By Jangmang Haokip
Dear editor, I would like to use your highly esteemed paper to speak out something very important and sensitive to the Kuki underground groups and the govt of Manipur and the centre in connection with the current Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement to the general public. Since time immemorial the Kukis are peace loving people and obedient citizens of India and they did not play politics which can disturb the peace of the society. Though ~rm movements have been initiated by other communities the Kukis didn`t bother much thinking that the govt of India will care their requirements as and when required. Of course they have had 2 long years of wars with the mighty British during the last part of the second Global War but that was due to their too much love of freedom and protection of their rights and not rebelling for the sake of rebelling.
Indeed other communities had started political movement since the last so many years, the Kukis distanced themselves from such activities in the hope that the authority will reward them for their love of non-violence. But the situation is turning from bad to worse for the Kukis as others had been busy leaving no stone unturn to achieve their political goals without thinking for others. The 1992 -95 Naga Kuki clash occurred at the time when the Kukis were quite unprepared. The ugly incident left large scale destruction of lives and property. For the Kukis such communal clash was like a bolt from the blue as the attack came upon them like a lightening giving the hardest hitting. It was really an unequal fight as the Nagas have been very well armed. Now the Kukis consider this incident as a thing of the past for the sake of peace and social harmony.
Finally, the Kukis came to the conclusion that without initiating a system of protection and safeguarding themselves they will have no future as human beings on this earth. So they took up arms mainly in self defense and their ancestral land since they came to the firm believe that they have no future if they continue to follow the path of non-violence and peace. This is the reason why they have started a political movement by taking up arms. Thus the world began to acknowledge the birth of the Kuki revolutionary groups in great number, particularly in the aftermath of the Naga-Kuki clash of the 90s.
Nevertheless the Kukis could not forsake their inherent peaceful nature and within few years of arms struggle they long to initiate peace with the government and accordingly the current SoO pact came to be signed in 2005. Initially the agreement was signed between the Kuki UGs and the Indian army. After some years in that stage the Indian army leadership was kind enough to put forward the case of the Kuki UGs to the Ministry of Home, Govt of India. Then the tripartite agreement came to be signed between the govt of India and the Manipur state govt on one side and the Kuki underground groups on the other side in 2008. That was a good and healthy step for the authority to proceed towards the peace process. An atmosphere of high hope was created not only to the Kuki revolutionary groups but to all other armed groups operating in the soil.
However, the govt. is not taking much interest or the Kukis and no political dialogue is initiated so far. The peace pact came to be extended one period after another in all these long years without any concrete result. In recent time the worst came upon the Kukis when they went to Delhi to meet the representatives of the state and the centre governments.
The leaders of the Kuki outfits went to Delhi with a high hope where a meeting took place between them and the govt representatives from 30 to 31 August 2012 at Asoka hotel, new Delhi. But contrary to their hope and believe they were greeted with an insulting proposal to surrender all the arms to the nearest police or army or Assam Rifles post or station. It was really a cruel joke on the part of the govt. According to the agreed ground rules of the Suspension of Operation (SoO) except some dos and don`ts, depositing arms to the police or army was not mentioned in any part of the peace agreement. Of course the govt has every right to make sure that no violation of the agreed ground rules took place and they can also give strict instruction to the Kuki UGs in regards to the observance of the agreed ground rules but they have no right to speak on many irrelevant issues which are not part of the ground rules.
Of the so many `dos and don`ts` imposed upon the Kuki UG groups as a component part of the 500 ground rules, the two most important things are to keep all the arms (weapons) in a double locked room, one key of the lock would be in the hands of the Police and the other key in the hands of the UG and to let all the armed cadres to remains in designated camps with no permission granted to leave the camp freely. On top of this, verification of the cadres in those designated camps are conducted regularly every month by the police and the Assam Rifles.
Keeping away arms to a double locked room is almost equal to surrendering of arms to the government but the Kuki underground groups agreed it for the sake of peace in the state. However, the recent meeting at Delhi had shown the true sinister design of the government particularly the state govt. because the proposal to deposits arms to the police or army was reportedly moved by the state govt. Instead of creating an atmosphere of trust the govt had acted in a very suspicious manner.
This is not the time to talk about depositing arms to the police or army. Depositing arms to the police or army is more or less a total surrender. The govt must not forget that the Kuki UGs are not surrendering their arms. Indeed they are not surrenderees. The govt must not forget that the Kuki UG groups are representing the Kuki community and they are not that free to act in accordance with their sweet will. Surrendered groups and those who come to negotiating table should be treated separately, for they are not the same.
Now only three months period was extended for SOO period and by the end of the three months the situation is unpredictable. This means the days of the Kuki UG groups. (SoO groups) are already numbered. Their fate is nearer and nearer day by day. This kind of ill-treatment meted out to the Kuki UGs will definitely turn back other groups who are thinking of coming to negotiating table.
Now even if the Kuki UG groups-agreed to, deposit arms to the authority the people will go against them and such agreement will not be accepted. The Kuki UGs also must keep in mind that the people stood behind them. They are advised to abrogate the peace agreement if the govt is treating them shabbily.
It seems that the centre govt is just simply a spectator when the Manipur state govt is showing its insincerity to the fullest extend in demanding the complete surrender of the Kuki UGs much contrary to its earlier promise and assurance. 0 lbobi Singh government is seen the most cruel govt for the tribals as he had shown enough insincerity to them. Our honourable CM Ibobi is seen calling out with a loud voice to all UG groups to come forward for negotiation but his real intention seems to be to eliminate them one by one once they agreed for negotiation. This is not a fatherly treatment meted out to his children.
This is really a very sad story. In all these long years of peace agreement, the govt has done nothing worthy for the Kukis. Instead of coming forward taking a bold step for peace talk the Manipur govt is seen betraying the Kuki armed groups. This is very upsetting and ridiculous. The arms have been already deposited in the arm-code which is no longer utilized by the arm cadres. This is almost equal to surrendering them to the authority. Then the need to relocate them to the police or army does not arise at all. But the current stand of the Manipur state govt towards the Kukis appears that the father giving his son a snake when the son is asking for fish.
This is high time to wake up for the Kuki public to the sinister design of the Manipur govt and reorganize into a stronger body to counter the plan of the govt. As far as the Kukis are concern they are not demanding independence. They are not demanding the moon in the sky. They are simply demanding what the constitution had given them. If I am not mistaken, the Kukis are not focusing on disintegrating the state. Their demand for autonomy or autonomous state is not something unreasonable. This is the right time for the Kuki people to unite behind the Kuki UGs for peace and permanent solution. It is a fervent appeal to the Kuki social bodies to stand behind our UGs for reasonable political settlement. No relocation arms until political settlement is made.