Kuki peace process at stake: KNO

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IMPHAL, March 31: The Kuki National Organization, an umbrella body of different Kuki outfits presently under Suspension of Operation with the Centre and state government came out severely against former Tamenglong Deputy Commissioner and present Joint Secretary North East, GOI, Sambhu Singh’s reported statement “Where is Kukiland?”.

In a press statement the Kuki militant body has lamented, “Sambhu Singh was the District Commissioner of Tamenglong in 1993: when the `Zoupi Massacre` took place. The Nagas served notice to the Kukis of Zoupi to quit the village by 15 September. Not taking chances, the village folks left on 13th, two days ahead of the deadline. However, Naga civilians, led by NSCN (IM) cadres tied up and massacred with machetes and spears 107 Kuki men; 87 died at the spot and 20 later succumbed to fatal injuries”.

“The enormity of the scenario pervasive at the time in the hill districts, including Tamenglong, appears to have completely eluded the DC. Perhaps, this was owing to sheer ignorance of the existing crisis or simple indifference towards the vulnerable Kukis. Else, given the advance date of `Quit Notice` served to Kukis of Zoupi, adequate preventative measures could have been deployed by the representative of the Government and a human tragedy of calamitous proportions avoided” it further charged”.

“The tragic incident educed a rather poignant remark: `The Naga cry against human rights abuse perpetrated by the Indian army for over fifty years was, completely overshadowed by one incident of Zoupi village on 13 September 1993 (Yambem Laba. a distinguished journalist).`”, the statement added.

Further taking a dig at the former tamenglong DC, the statement added, “Today, despite the abysmal performance as DC `Tamenglong, Sambhu Singh`s is JS NE. Reminiscent of his apathy towards the Kukis of Zoupi, queried on the issue of `Kukiland`, he disdainfully quipped, `where is Kukiland`”.

Citing several reports of local as well as national papers regarding the Jt secretary’s remark on SoO and its signatory groups, the statement has added “Bureaucratic shenanigans, such as `clear agenda` `terms` or `demands` are irrelevant preconditions”.

“As the premise of SoO is the Constitutional framework, these aspects already form the basis for dialogue. To refer to them at this stage (2012) suggests one of three possibilities: a) uninformed of the premise of SoO, b) an illusion that KNO`s political objective is outside the ambit of the Constitution, and c) last but not least, merely a ploy to delude and delay”.

“Core and substantive issues, which might be interpreted as `demands`are to be raised for discussion during dialogue in New Delhi, not beforehand”, the statement added.

“Tripartite SoO means all three parties` consent is required for any resolution. Arbitrary or unilateral decision contradicts the tripartite agreement. This vital fact also invariably eludes the JS NE (or he simply disregards), as demonstrated by his autocratic behaviour in SoO meetings. Courtesy will be reciprocated; authoritarianism is counterproductive and will not be entertained – this is the Kuki ethos” the statement said.

It has further stated that “Undiplomatic and callous comments bears immense potential for deterrence to processes of peace”.

“Arrogant and tactless conduct so reinforces the discrimination felt by Northeast people and that they are looked-down upon by people of the mainland. A Government representative can ill-afford to perpetrate this sentiment. As a learned gentleman once said, a bureaucrat is a public servant and should not presume to be otherwise (paraphrased).A little civility would go a along way in building bridges”.

“KNO recommends Gol make discerning appointments to deal with the sensitive and volatile nature of issues concerning the Northeast. At all cost, efforts and time already invested by committed people to bring issues to their logical conclusion through dialogue conducted in the spirit of mutual respect ought not to be in jeopardy on account of an individual`s folly, especially in regard to the Kuki Peace Process” ended the press statement signed by the one Stephen Kuki, KNO.

The Jt Secretary had reportedly made the statements on March 25 after the joining of two more Kuki groups that share the Kuki National Organisation political umbrella, i.e.Pakan Re-unification Army and United Tribal Liberation Army into the tripartite Suspension of Operations agreement with the Government of India and the state Government of Manipur. Sambhu Singh, Jt Secy North East represented the Union Government on the occasion held at lsl Battalion Manipur Rifles.

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