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Why does the Kuki-Zo organization want to topple CM Biren?

Another angle on the 3.5 Collective’s case in the Supreme Court

by Editorial Team
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Why does the Kuki-Zo organization want to topple CM Biren?

The case of the 3.5 Collective in the Supreme Court is making headlines once again. It revolves around whether victims of the drug economy in Manipur can appeal against the acquittal of high-profile drug runners and kingpins. The genesis of the case can be traced back to a raid conducted by Manipur police in 2018 at the residence of Lhukhosei Zou, a prominent political figure in the Kuki-Zo community. The raid resulted in the seizure of 4,595 kilograms of heroin and 280,200 amphetamine tablets weighing 28 kilograms. Later, Zou was granted bail. However, when he failed to appear before the court on January 8, 2019, and went missing for an extended period, the court declared him an absconder. Subsequently, in February 2020, he surrendered to the court and was subsequently acquitted by a Manipur court.
This acquittal sparked outrage among civil society organizations in Imphal. Various groups, including those representing individuals who have suffered from drug abuse and trafficking, exerted pressure on authorities. Leading this movement was the civil body known as the 3.5 Collective. Against the mounting pressure on the Manipur government by valley-based organizations, the Kuki-Zo organizations supported Zou’s acquittal and warned against appealing to a higher court. The Kuki Students’ Organisation Tengnoupal, in a statement released on December 30, 2020, expressed dissatisfaction with the demand of civil bodies to go to a higher court, arguing that the court had already given its verdict after thorough investigation and examination of all the facts and evidence.
Similarly, the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur defended Zou’s acquittal and urged the government not to further victimize him or appeal against the court order, as he had already suffered enough. Furthermore, they warned against appeasing civil bodies aiming to incite mob agitation.
The Kuki Chiefs’ Association (KCA), Tengnoupal, appealed to the State Government not to appeal Zou’s case for reinvestigation, threatening agitation if their demand was not heeded. Likewise, the Joint Women Organization Moreh, in a statement dated February 11, 2021, appealed for the Valley CSOs not to sow seeds of hatred between valley and hill people by pressuring the government to go to a higher court over this matter.
Despite pressure from Kuki-Zo organizations, when the 3.5 Collective moved the Supreme Court in March 2022, it directed the Manipur government to file an appeal against Zou’s acquittal. In a subsequent hearing, the Manipur government informed the Supreme Court that it had lodged an appeal in the High Court challenging the December 2020 acquittal of Zou and others in the drug case.
Even though there are many allegations against the government’s leadership, it lodged an appeal and did not succumb to the pressure of the Kuki groups. This could be one reason why the Kuki groups now want to topple the current BJP government led by CM N Biren Singh. Moreover, the economic damages caused by the crackdown on poppy farms since the heightened debate over drug trade in Manipur since Zou’s arrest could have fueled Kuki-Zo anger against CM Biren Singh.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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