Imphal, Feb. 20: The Zomi community celebrated its 64th Zomi National Day in Imphal today. The Zomi Students’ Federation, the organisers of the cultural programme, had invited chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and other ministers for the event at Bheigyachandra Open Air Theatre here. The students group took this opportunity to apprise the ministers of the community’s desire for peace, development and equality.The Zomi community observes its national day in commemoration of a convention of Zomi leaders at Falam in neighbouring Myanmar in 1948. The convention had rejected British rule in Manipur and worked for democratic self-governance.
The theme of this year’s annual programme is culture conformity.
Chairman of the Zomi council, the apex body of the community, L.B. Sona, said the community was desirous to establish peace through political dialogue with militant groups from the hill districts, who are in suspension of operation agreement with the government.
Nearly 20 militant groups from the five hill districts are now in more than 10 designated camps, waiting for a political dialogue with government.
The demands of the militant groups include a “Kuki homeland” and protecting the interests of the community.
Sona called for bridging the hill and valley divide by integrating community knowledge for “collective survival.”
The Zomi community is concentrated in Churachandpur district of Manipur and in neighbouring Myanmar and Bangladesh. Zomis living in other countries also observed the day.
Chief minister Ibobi Singh, who was the chief guest, did not make any commitment in his speech because of the election code of conduct, but called for dialogue to sort out all differences among the communities living in Manipur.
“I cannot make a political speech here today because of the election code of conduct, but I can appeal for peaceful co-existence among the different communities by resolving problems through dialogue and bringing development by working together. We all are Manipuris and citizens of India,” Ibobi Singh said.
Ibobi Singh and other ministers, who attended today’s programme, had to get permission from the Election Commission.
But there were fewer speeches and more cultural programmes during the daylong programme.Well-known Tangkhul folk singer Guru Rewben Mashangva and singer from Mizoram, Mami Varte, also performed at the programme.