In the backdrop of a volatile political situation in the state of Manipur in North East India where a demand for separate administration for the hill people is gaining momentum, the President of Kuki National Organization (KNO), PS Haokip, reiterated his organization’s long-standing demand for a Kuki state within the Indian Union. In a statement released on September 18, 2015, Haokip appealed to leaders of the Kuki armed groups under the umbrella organizations of the United People’s Front (UPF) and the Kuki National Organization (KNO) for unity and said:
“Today, we have come to a very critical juncture in our history. The land our forefathers have fought to protect from British colonial government between 1917-1919 in what is referred to in history as Kuki Rising, the part of our territory that has been incorporated in the Manipur state, and our right to govern ourselves and determine our development and welfare stands unrecognized today. Our people have now shown solidarity with our struggle to achieve political recognition of our right to govern ourselves over our territories, the merciless killing of our 9 martyrs being the spark.
Today, we are being called upon by our people to unite and speak in one voice. They want us to define our political goal and identity under which the people can unitedly fight along with us. We cannot fail them. We all know that the strength of a movement lies in the support of the masses. When our people are screaming that they want out from the existing political entity called Manipur, we must leverage their strength to achieve our common goal of a political solution for our people.
We must be clear that we don’t want an administrative solution within Manipur. We must reflect the people’s wish and our revolutionary objective to achieve the recognition of our political right to govern ourselves over our territories, separate politically from Manipur.
We know the exclusive and clear political objective of our tribal brothers, the Nagas, and we now know that our only shared interest is in breaking away from Manipur. Other than that, they clearly pursue their dream of a pan-Naga political entity. We also know that they lay claim to large parts of our territories, over which they have killed many of our innocent villagers without even sparing women and children.
In this light, we also know that the KNO had offered the NSCN-IM to work out a political and territorial understanding and they have declined our offer for mutual understanding based on mutual respect and a spirit of peaceful co-existence.
Today, we need to give our politically aroused people an identity and a goal. We cannot delay this further. We can no longer afford to shout tribal unity and can no longer raise slogans like “Tribals want separation from Manipur” since the Nagas refuse to work together. It is time we shout our own slogan like the Nagas do.
We have a rich political history as Kuki people and Kuki tribes. The world knows our history. The government of India and Manipur knows us as Kuki tribes. While I have no particular attachment to the term, and while we understand our unity under the nomenclature Kuki had been mismanaged in the past, I am sure you would all agree that we need to unite under Kuki political identity till our goal is realized.
Therefore, I propose that we rise up to the call of our political situation and unite our people under one identity, Kuki, and lead them to claim our political right for a state within the Indian Union. This alone will meet our people’s aspirations for security, peace, welfare and development. This alone will meet our expectations of progress as a people.”
The article was sent by Kukiforum News. They can be reached at kukiforumnews (at) yahoo(dot)com