by Rinku Khumukcham
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By:- Aheibam Koireng Singh

Asst. Prof., Centre for Manipur Studies,

Manipur University

United Naga Council (UNC) came into existence with an objective to work as an apex organization of all the Nagas inside the territorial boundary of Manipur in 1992. UNC was also alleged as the over-ground wing of NSCN (IM) by the Government of India when the Kuki-Naga clash was at its height.[Does Violence get a Mandate, GoI publications, 1993, P.25.] More recently also United Naga People Council (UNPC) Secretary General Lansa mentioned that UNC worked as the frontal organization of the NSCN (IM). UNPC is a Naga armed group splintered from the NSCN (IM). Its Secretary General Lansa’s statement came as a reaction against the claim by the UNC that the formation of the UNPC was the handiwork of enemies of the Nagas and designed to create confusion in the minds of the Naga people. Here is a glimpse of some of the activities so far taken up by UNC and its outcome.


UNC in 1992 took a formal resolution that UNC shall thenceforth be the only custodian to organize and celebrate ‘Lui-Ngai-Ni’. Lui-Ngai-Ni as a common festival of the Nagas in Manipur was reinvented in 1988 with state patronage during the Chief Ministership of Rishang Keishing. But till date, it remained a political festival observed only at the district headquarter and was not filtered down to the village level. The name itself represents only three community and also indicative of the hegemonic preference in HEAD-TAIL-TAIL order with Lui representing Tangkhul, Ngai representing Zeliangrong and Ni representing Poumai. Other communities are all excluded. And Zeliangrongs had earlier condemned the festival as artificial.


After the eruption of Kuki – Naga clashes in the middle part of 1992, UNC issued ‘quit notice’ signed by the President, RK Theko to the Kukis on 22 November, 1992 to leave their villages. But the outcome is Moreh, a border town of Imphal is now Zero Naga populated zone and with many of the Forced emigrated Kuki village resettled at Kangpokpui area, Kangpokpi eventually solidifies as Revenue District.

The Kuki-Naga clash had led to serious casualties both in terms of human lives and material loss. This had created a situation of humanitarian crisis. UNC came together with the apex body of the Kuki, Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) and formed the Committee for Restoration of Normalcy (CRN). CRN goes to oblivion without any significant achievement as KIM withdrew from it in the later middle part of 1997 after UNC welcomed the GoI-NSCN-IM Ceasefire by the UNC and its expressed desire to extend it to Manipur. KIM termed it as the second quit notice to the Kukis. At two separate instances, first in 27 May 1996 and second in 12 February 1997, some non Thadou Kukis got killed and injured in the attack by Naga assailants. In it the UNC representing the Naga communities immediately bought peace by paying adequate compensation and also by expressing unqualified apology to the apex bodies of the tribal groups concerned to which the victims belonged. UNC on the other hand show no such urgency in the case of the Thadou Kukis.


UNC was an unwelcome intruder in Nagaland. During the Presidentship of Mr. RK Theko and his successor Mr. G. Gaingam as its President, they forcefully pleaded for UNC becoming a member organization of Naga Hoho. But the Wokha Summit of 1994 and Kohima Summit of 1995 have adopted a formal resolution and rejected the plea.

NSCN-IM assassinated a prominent Naga leader, Mr. Povezo Soho in 1995. The Chakhesang in Phek District of Nagaland issued quit notice on Tangkhuls in Phek and the NSCN-IM responded with a death sentence on those who signed the Quit Notice. As a follow on, 21 Tangkhuls were killed in Kohima and Dimapur by unidentified gunmen during the period from 8 May 1995 to 6 June 1992. [Aheibam Koireng Singh, Ethnicity and Inter Community Conflicts, Akansha, N. Delhi, 2007.] UNC emergency crisis meeting on 17 October 1995 resolved and accordingly depute a high delegation of UNC to Nagaland for bringing the situation to normalcy. [UNC, A Brief Report of the United Naga Council Manipur for the year1995 – 1998, Imphal.]. How far  it bore fruit is to everyone’s knowledge.


UNC as members of Action Committee of Naga Hoho/NGOs for enforcing ban in the election held under Indian constitution boycotted the assembly and general election at the Naga inhabited areas of Manipur and Nagaland in the Seventh Assembly Election and Twelfth (1997) and Thirteenth Lok Sabha Election (1999). Consequently, Kuki got elected from the outer parliamentary constituency. Even with their ban 09 Naga MLAs got elected. Kukis also benefit from it as they got elected in 11assembly seats. This discredited the mainstream Naga political leaders and led to the loss of their significance. Consequently, it created a rift within the Naga community and depleted the support base of the UNC. And with the increase in the number of Kuki MLAs and MP getting elected from the lone ST Reserved MP seat, and the hike in Local Area Development Fund, coincidentally, the otherwise minnow Kuki outfits became emboldened to match the might of otherwise .


The  Chief Minister of Manipur  in the year 2005 declared 18 June, the day 18 people laid down their lives in Imphal in protest against the extension of GOI-NSCN-IM Cease fire “without territorial limits” on the day in 2001, a state holiday calling it “Integrity Day”. In protest, UNC declared Non-Co-operation and Civil disobedience Movement against the Government of Manipur. But the Naga people were not enthusiastic about it, as none of the Nagas have given up their job under Manipur Government and the Zeliangrongs, Inpuis and Puimeis have time and again expressed their resolve to remain co-existed with their Meitei brothers.


The UNC took part in the 9th general assembly election objective [UNC, Call for Democratic Expression of our Birth Right, Position paper on the 9th  General Election 2007, Manipur, 2007]. The UNC claimed themselves to be mandated by the Naga people through the NPC declaration of August 2001. UNC’s initial success of this misdemeanor is a spat from their Founder President, RK Theko and UNC saying that the NSCN-IM is attempting to wipe out the Congress Organisation from the Naga areas through the UNC. UNC floated a common front which has been christened as the United Naga Democratic Front (UNDF). In Nungba AC, UNC first fielded former Technical and Higher Education Minister, Gangmumei Kamei but ditched in the last minute by the UNC by withdrawing the support. The success of Gaikhangam in Nungba and Khangthuanang Panmei in Tamenglong was a direct blow to the UNC and its mentor NSCN-IM and the aspiration of its promised land ‘Nagalim’ Khangthuanang Panmei got elected after he was forced to announce retirements from the election by the outfit while in their captivity. And now it is to everyone’s knowledge that many of the candidates they earlier fielded have joined other parties as they see no prospects for changing their fortune considering the growing apathy of the Naga people towards UNC. Example being Khasim Ruivah, Samuel Jendai.          


{Common syllabus, alternative arrangement, endorsement of NPF and others will come in Part II)

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