Amit Shah to meet Manipur agitators after boycott call

A gate near Imphal, Manipur welcoming guests to the Sangai festival. (DH photo)

Union home minister Amit Shah invited Manipur-based organisations agitating against the possible impact of Naga pact for a meeting on Monday in New Delhi after they issued a boycott call to Sangai festival, the state's biggest tourism festival.

A statement issued by the office of Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said Shah agreed to meet a delegation of the agitators at 10 am on Monday, despite the Parliament session and the political developments in Maharastra. 

The state government also agreed to convene the winter session of the state Assembly by December 20 to discuss the issue, as demanded by the agitating groups. Life has come to a standstill in parts of Manipur since the agitators launched a series of protests against the possible impact of the Naga pact. 

The delegation will comprise members of Co-ordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) and other organisations, who has been agitating since the Centre and Naga rebel groups concluded their negotiations for signing a final agreement to end decades-old Naga conflict. The agitators fear that the Centre could meet Naga groups' demand to integrate Naga dominated areas in Manipur. They have been demanding the Centre to disclose the contents of the agreement. 

Although the BJP-led government had earlier took a tough stand against the agitators, sources said the boycott call issued by COCOMI for Sangai festival prompted it to meet their demands. Manipur government is trying to use the Sangai festival, which began on Sunday to project the state's tourism potential. Tourists, tour operators and business delegations from different parts of the country and South-East Asian nations such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia and others are likely to take part. The festival will conclude on December 6.

The state government claimed that tourist inflow into the state increased due to improvement in law and order situation, after years of insurgency problem. Singh said that 1,66,032 domestic tourists travelled to Manipur last year, which was a 14% more than 2016. During the same period, foreign tourist arrivals saw a leap of 222% with nearly 10,000 arrivals recorded last year, he added.

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