Controversy Surrounds Speech by Manipur Tribal Leader in Canada, Details Inside
Controversy Surrounds Speech by Manipur Tribal Leader in Canada, Details Inside

New Delhi: A significant uproar has emerged in the wake of a speech delivered by a leader hailing from the Kuki-Zo tribes of Manipur, now based in Canada, addressing the ethnic turmoil in his homeland. Lien Gangte, who serves as the head of the Canada chapter of the North American Manipur Tribal Association (NAMTA), delivered his address in August this year. During the speech, he decried what he labeled as "attacks on minority communities in India" and appealed for "any available assistance" from Canada. This event took place at the same gurdwara in Surrey, Canada, where Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar was fatally shot by unidentified assailants in June.

Initially, NAMTA shared a video of the event on various social media platforms, including Facebook and X (formerly Twitter), on August 7. However, they later removed the videos as tensions escalated between India and Canada. This escalation followed allegations by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that "Indian government agents" played a role in Nijjar's assassination.

Gangte, representing the Kuki-Zo tribes to which he belongs, discussed the ethnic violence plaguing Manipur, particularly the clashes between the hill-dwelling majority tribes and the valley-dwelling Meiteis.

Lien Gangte's Controversial Address in Canada

In his August address, Gangte recounted a distressing incident, stating, "On May 4, a mob attacked our residence and attempted to murder my 80-year-old father. They vandalized our home and set it on fire. Since May 3, Manipur has been in turmoil, with more than 120 casualties within our community, over 7,000 homes looted and set ablaze, numerous churches destroyed, and 200 valley villages reduced to rubble."

Gangte also expressed grave concerns about the lack of action by authorities during the violence, alleging that Manipur's police not only failed to quell the unrest but also encouraged the rioters. He described the forced displacement of his community from the Imphal valley as a form of ethnic cleansing. He further recounted a harrowing incident in which a seven-year-old boy, his mother, and a relative were tragically burned alive inside an ambulance.

He expressed dismay over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's absence during this crisis, remarking, "While all this turmoil was unfolding in India, where was Prime Minister Narendra Modi? He traveled to the US, France, Egypt, but neglected the place that required his utmost attention. No minority is safe in India, whether they be Muslim, Sikh, or Christians. We vehemently condemn attacks on minority communities in India and earnestly request any assistance Canada can offer."

Reports have surfaced suggesting that India's intelligence agencies are closely monitoring NAMTA's activities and investigating alleged connections between the Kuki-Zo group and Khalistani elements. Following Gangte's speech, NAMTA members and supporters of Nijjar reportedly held a meeting, raising concerns within intelligence agencies.

Sources within the Manipur government have acknowledged their awareness of NAMTA's activities in Canada. A senior official from the Manipur Home Department disclosed, "We have observed the NAMTA video. It is a cause for concern, but we have faith that intelligence agencies are monitoring them, given the situation in Manipur. At present, our primary focus is on restoring normalcy and peace."

Response from Indian Government and Intelligence Agencies

A communication expert closely following the Manipur crisis dismissed allegations of NAMTA's association with Khalistanis as unfounded and exaggerated. They stated, "Claims of NAMTA's ties with Khalistanis lack credible evidence to substantiate them. It appears to be a baseless conspiracy, amplified solely by anonymous online sources."

Ethnic Violence in Manipur

The ethnic violence in Manipur, which erupted on May 3 due to the Meiteis' demand for Scheduled Tribes category status, has claimed the lives of over 180 individuals to date. Thousands have been displaced, seeking refuge in relief camps and prefabricated housing.

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