IMPHAL, December 4: “The endless round of talks between the NSCN-IM and the Union Govt appear to have reached a final stage as indicated from press reports. However, the Union Govt must exercise great caution in the matter as the arrangement/settlement reached with the NSCN-IM may affect the interest of the other tribal communities who are equally or more deserving of such ‘alternative arrangement’; and accommodation of a particular section could result in denial of justice and discrimination to the larger society.”
This was said by the Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) in a recently submitted memorandum to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. “In the case of Manipur in particular, we are all aware that the administration of this multi-ethnic State had been inherited by the Govt of India (GOI) from the British. The British had annexed the Manipur kingdom after a brief resistance in 1891. Subsequently, the hill areas of Manipur (the Kukis in particular) revolted against the foreign (British) administration in a 3-year long war (1917-1919) that was fought by the Kukis against the British covering the length and breadth of the present hill areas of Manipur. These historical events of the period clearly indicate that the administration/control of Manipur prior to the British rule had been in the hands of the majority Meiteis (plain areas) and the Kukis (hill areas),” it said.
“The term ‘Naga’ is a connotative term to identify a collection/conglomeration of distinct/separate tribal communities residing mostly in the present state of Nagaland. There is no clear cut demarcation between Naga tribes and non-Naga tribes, as erstwhile Old Kuki tribes of Manipur now claim themselves to be Nagas. At best the term Naga could include any tribal community which claims to be so,” it further said.
“Historically, therefore, there is no justification for selective grant of special political status to the Nagas of Manipur over and above the other tribes (the Kukis, in the case of Manipur). In fact, the Kukis of Manipur are fully justified historically/politically for a superior ‘alternative arrangement’,” it said.
“The well armed NSCN-IM embarked on the policy of ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Kuki population in Manipur in the early 90s on the heels of a ‘Quit notice’ served by the United Naga Council with copies to functionaries of the state administration then. There was no serious attempt on the part of the State or Central administration to put an end to the violence and the unarmed Kukis were left/ forced to fend for themselves (The UNC remained untouched by the Govt at the time). Instead of enforcing the rule of law and bringing the culprits to book, the Govt ‘declared’ the conflict as an ethnic conflict thereby prolonging the violence for several years till the Kukis, who were unarmed and defenceless initially, were left with no choice but retaliate in equal measure,” it said.
“The NSCN-IM led violence against the Kukis lasted several years resulting in the inhuman death of 900 plus innocent Kukis and uprooting of 360 plus Kuki villages. Innumerable appeals/memorandum etc to the GOI by the Kukis for dialogue/rehabilitation/ resettlement/compensation etc have not been responded to till date. Mr Th Muivah, the leader of the NSCN-IM was arrested at Bangkok. The GOI strangely rescued him and gave him a hero’s welcome and the ceasefire/talks with the NSCN-IM commenced,” it said.
“The Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM), which is the apex body of the Kukis in Manipur, has absolutely no objection in principle to grant of an ‘alternative arrangement’ for the Nagas of Manipur who are historically our co-residents of the hills areas of Manipur. However, before such an arrangement is finalized, there has to be compulsorily a top level official dialogue and agreement between the Kukis and the GOI for a justified/deserved and superior political solution for the Kukis of Manipur. Any ‘alternative arrangement’ for the Nagas of Manipur prior to such justified/deserved political solution for the Kukis of Manipur is not acceptable under any circumstances,” it added.