Rebellion, insurgency, riots, armed-conflict, ethnic crisis, national liberation movements happen everywhere in the world today. India, the most populous country in the world, cannot escape from it. Regional aspirations that altered the boundary of northern Indian states, the bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir and the separatist movements in Manipur, Nagaland and Tripura are the facets of the Indian nation-state. Though some sections called the merger of 1949 as the Indian annexation of Manipur, Manipur has been taking part in the Indian parliamentary form of democracy ever since India became a republic. Leaps and bounds, Manipur continues to bring glory to India in the field of sports, tourism and art and culture. Nevertheless, Manipur has gained a position in the global narco-terror network vis-à-vis insurgent infested region in the South West Asia.
Being the largest democracy in the world, India gives its citizens enough space for any peaceful democratic process and dialogue for an amicable resolution if any conflict arises. Unlike the past events that seized the Indian nation asunder, the ethnic inferno that started from May 3, 2023 has put India’s security at stake. For the first time in the history of this subcontinent, armed cadres of the Kuki militants flaunting with automatic Kalashnikov rifles (video clips already available in social media) openly participated in the so called Tribal Solidarity March sponsored by the belligerent All Tribal Students’ Union, Manipur. If one observes minutely the sequence of events of the rampant ethnic violence continuously perpetrated by the combined force of illegal Burmese chin militants and SoO Kuki militants upon the civilian Meitei population in Manipur since day one, one may be able to easily grasp the nefarious design of the Kuki militants’ ongoing military campaign in the hills and valleys of Manipur is just the beginning of the establishment of a larger territory expanding from the Bay of Bengal touching the Yunnan Province of China encompassing the whole of Mizoram, part of Manipur-Nagaland-Tripura from the Indian territory in their clandestine affairs called the “Zalen’gnam”. This military campaign has nothing to do with the demands of the Meiteis in the inclusion of the Scheduled Tribes’ List under the Constitution of India even though the Kuki militants sprang off their carnage in the name of protest against the demands of the Meiteis.
The total security and intelligence failure of the state machineries led the Kuki militants ran amok the Meitei population clusters at Tronglaobi and Moreh torching houses, looting public property vandalizing age-old Meitei and Meitei Hindu temples at first in the evening of May 3, 2023. In retaliation, some sections of the Meitei community began to ransack and douse houses belonging to Kuki community in the Imphal Valley. Since then, the Kuki militants have been on killing spree of civilian Meiteis with automatic rifles and ravaging their houses into ashes. In this nightmare, more than 50,000 people have been displaced and put up at relief camps. Till the time of writing this piece, information has been pouring in about the onslaught of the Kuki militants at different periphery places of the Manipur Valley. The ongoing military campaign in Manipur organized jointly by the SoO Kuki militants in nexus with the illegal Burmese Chin militants show the highest evidences of the violations of the international humanitarian law. Killing defenseless people, destroying cities and towns, torturing innocent civilians, burning down of houses and public infrastructure and looting public property are acts considered as war crimes under the preview of the international humanitarian law.
Barring the armed-opposition groups that denounced any peace deal with the government of India, what irks most is the possible infringement of India’s security in the wake of this premeditated military campaign by the Kuki militants as a whole. Pockets of Kuki armed groups are fighting in Burma (now Myanmar), Chittagong Hill Tracts (Bangladesh) and Manipur (India). If one goes by the available literatures on the venture of Kukiland and the larger Zalen’gnam, the establishment of a larger Kuki empire in the Indo-Burma region is imminent if India does not root out steadfastly the ongoing military campaign in Manipur by the Kuki armed groups in their first step for the consolidation of a Kuki dominated territory in this geo-political strategic region in the backdrop of Chinese expansion in the region. If not so, by then, the alleged Chinese link with some Manipur based armed-groups might have been shifted with the emerging administering power of this Israel-type Chin-Kuki territory that may pose severe threat to India’s territorial integrity and existence. In any way, India’s security is at stake now and it is on the wisdom of New Delhi to avoid a future war in the Indo-Burma Region.
Writer: MC Birla Meetei