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Solution to Manipur violence and to prevent similar situation in future

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Solution to Manipur violence and to prevent similar situation in future

[Clear understanding of the root cause, who really are Kuki illegal immigrants, ‘Any Kuki tribes’, their influence, modus operandi and pattern of Kuki terrorism and ethnic violence since the early 1990s is key to solving the ongoing Manipur problem and to prevent similar problems in future. This needs strong leadership with firm political will and decisive actions.]

By- Manipur Resurgence Forum

It has been 10 months since the ongoing violence in Manipur broke out on May 3, 2023, yet there seems to be no way forward to end the crisis. This is primarily due to absence or lack of clear understanding of the real causes of the conflict. Solution to the present conflict needs to be sought with clear understanding of the underlying causes, behavioural patterns of the masterminds, history of Kuki-ethnic violence in the past and patterns and nature of the conflicts and cross border terrorism. Therse is a need to examine and understand the history and perpetuation of violent Kuki aggressions and terrorism linked to illegal immigration, drug mafia network and politics for power, control, supremacy and dominance in a similar way as Islamic terrorism or extremists operate in some parts of the world. The issue of Kuki illegal immigrants and Kuki terrorism need to be dealt with iron hand in the same manner as dealing with Islamic terrorism to right the wrong and stop it.
Modus operandi of Kuki supremacists: Basing on divisive identity politics, Kuki supremacists use church and clan or family groups as well as false prophets as mediums and platforms to spread their evil ethno-centric ideology and policies and to consolidate their power and control over the people. They expand their dominance by grabbing and controlling land and bringing in mass illegal immigrants for new Kuki settlements for large scale poppy plantations, trade and vote banks. They needed land, money and manpower, so they adopted and zealously pursue territorial expansionist policy and illegal migration or infiltration at the same time.
They also meticulously planned and established many fake or duplicate Kuki villages and households and manipulate electoral rolls. They extend their dominance in important government departments, offices and state machineries by putting up MLA, MP candidates and collaborate with ruling political parties, politicians and people in power or government. They then control the entire administrative and political systems by controlling political class and government officials to obtain all important contracts and funds meant for people’s development and welfare.
They fund, organise and control Kuki civil society organisations like the Kuki Inpi, KSO, KKL, Kuki Women Union and even church platform like the Kuki Christian Leaders Forum (KCLF). They knew people can be controlled easily when people feel most vulnerable and emotional, hence they organised and dictate community members and churches to observe emotive ‘Kuki Black Day’ every year on September 13 to keep alive the anger of community members and to seek vengeance over what they claim was ‘ethnic cleansing’ or ‘genocide’ on Kukis by the Nagas. They erected giant stones at Tuibuang, Churachandpur on September 13, 2018 in memory of Kuki-Naga ethnic clash with an inscription ‘25th anniversary of the Kuki genocide by Tangkhul-led NSCN (IM). Likewise, they would also observe May 3 every year as ‘Kuki genocide by Meitei-led Manipur state’ to keep emotions of the Kukis in flame for narrow political gains and vested interests at the expense of the common people.
Recent history and patterns of Kuki-perpetrated violence and aggressions: There have been several violent ethnic conflicts where Kuki is a party regardless of whether they claim to be the aggressor or victim, the major bones being Kuki vs Thadou (1992-1993), infamous Kuki vs Naga (1992-1997), Kuki vs Zomi (1997-1998) and Kuki vs Karbi (2003-2004). All these conflicts involved the active and full participation of armed Kuki extremist underground groups, who are now under the Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement with Indian government and Manipur state government since 2008, Kuki frontal organisations, Kuki politicians and Kuki church leaders and institutions who altogether formed an aggressive powerful force.
Violent Kuki aggression on Thadous of Assam started in 1992 when well-armed Kuki militants called Chin Kuki Resistance Force (CKRF) later on renamed Kuki Liberation Army from Manipur sponsored by Dr T Lunkim (Khongsai), Supremo of Kuki Christian Church (KCC), went to attack Thadous in Assam in order to change the proposed All India Radio (AIR) Thadou program, Haflong & Diphu to Kuki program. The army chief of the group at that time was Thanglam Khongsai Kuki. The conflict led to loss of many lives and burning down of many villages, homes and properties belonging to Thadou tribe. This was detailed in an article ‘Genesis of Thadou-Kuki conflicts’ written by Janglam Kipgen, Secretary, Thadou Tribe Council, India, published in Diphu Times, July 18, 1993.
On their way to Assam, armed cadres of the KCRF stopped by at Joupi village and entered a Zeliangrong Naga village called Lenglong in Tamenglong district and tortured and terrorised its villagers and also fined them over land dispute with Joupi village, which bordered Lenglong village. They also fined Lenglong village, which bordered Lenglong. After the mayhem in Lenglong, the CKRF then moved to Peren in Nagaland and then to Diphu in Assam and they ultimately started their well-planned war against the Thadous in Assam. When Kuki vs Naga communal clash started in 1993, the Naga Lim Guard killed Taloulong and Joupi villagers on September 13, 1993 in retaliation to the CKRF act of terrorism on Longleng Naga villagers. CKRF were not invited by Joupi villagers, but sadly they bore the brunt of the CKRF act of terror.
Thadou tribe have been oppressed by Kuki supremacist force and militants. They have suffered Kuki aggressions in Manipur and elsewhere for long time.
Kuki militant groups and Kuki CSOs in Manipur force, coerce or bribe government officials to issue tribe certificate only in the name of Kuki or any Kuki tribes regardless of the tribe of the individual applicants. They also issued life-threatening diktats to denounce Thadou tribe and instead subscribe the ‘any Kuki tribes’. Kuki militants forcibly stopped Thadou activities wherever they could and there have been instances of Thadou leaders being threatened, beaten up and their homes burnt down by Kuki militants in Churachandpur. The historical and ongoing tension and animosity between Kuki and Thadou in Manipur and the Kuki attempts to wipe out Thadou are a direct result of Kuki supremacist agenda and expansionist policy at social, economic and political levels.
In fact, Thadou tribe have been the greatest victim and endurer of Kuki aggressions and Kuki supremacist policies and agenda for decades. Thadou leaders knew the danger of Kuki supremacist agenda and therefore opposed the demand for Kuki tribe in Manipur. This was revealed by repeated petitions and memorandums submitted to the Manipur state and Central governments by Thadou bodies like Thadou National Council, Thadou Inpi, Thadou Students’ Association on many occasions since the 1970s when so-called Kukis have started demanding Kuki tribe recognition in Manipur.
Thadou bodies had been successful in preventing Kuki attempts for tribe recognition in Manipur until 2002 when the state government under O. Ibobi Singh recommended to the Central government to add Kuki (any Kuki tribes) to ST list of Manipur despite strong objection from Thadou tribe and in spite of the fact that Kuki was and is never a tribe. ‘Kuki’ is a Bangladesh-origin foreign term taken from the word ‘cucci/cuckoo’ (offensive word for the migratory bird) or ‘coolie’ (offensive word for unskilled labourer or porter) and first used by Banglas/Bengalis and British in 1777 to refer to any group of people whom they did not know by their indigenous name.
During 2002-2003 then MP from Outer Manipur, Holkhomang Haokip, and then chief minister O. Ibobi Singh supported the demand for Kuki tribe due to political reasons; to appease Kuki illegal immigrants and the KNO and its frontal organisations like the Kuki Inpi, KSO, KCC etc for the Kuki illegal immigrant vote bank. This was a Himalayan blunder that needs to be now reversed and corrected urgently by removing Any Kuki tribes from ST list. Better late than never! It was the visionless Meitei CSOs and Meitei politicians who always supported Kuki, enabling continuity of Kuki aggressions and Kuki supremacy. The bloody ethnic clash between Kuki and Zomi that started in June 1997 and ended in September 1998 was also a result of aggressive Kuki supremacist agenda and violent coercive attempts to impose the term Kuki and dominate other tribes who are under the Zomi umbrella. Truly, wherever there is Kuki there is problem, violence or war.
Influence of Kuki illegal immigrants, KNO/KNA, illegal drug trade money in Manipur and its impact: The Kuki National Army / Kuki National Organisation (KNA/KNO) was formed by some so-called Kukis in 1988 at Molnoi village in Sagaing division in Myanmar with a claim to fight for setting up of a Kuki state in Burma now known as Myanmar, but with a hidden real agenda to control a society to carry out their drug and arms smuggling and other black businesses through the border in and around Moreh and to build up wealth and have influence in Manipur politics by sponsoring their candidates in Manipur elections. Notable veteran politicians sponsored by the KNO were Holkhomang Haokip, Chungkhokai Doungel, TN Haokip, Ngamthang Haokip who all served as MLAs and cabinet ministers in Manipur government for several terms. It is open secret that KNO/KNA was sponsored and supported by India’s intelligence agency, RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) to use as agents to counter and combat Naga (NSCN-IM) and Meitei insurgency in Manipur.
With huge combined revenue inflow from illegal poppy trade, siphoned-off government funds meant for development schemes, use of guns, terrorism, violence and their connections with people in power, Kuki illegal immigrants led by KNO managed to rapidly grow their influence even in Manipur government and the entire system. One classic example is their collaboration with Lhukhosei Zou, former Chairman of ADC Chandel who was arrested on June 20, 2018 and jailed on high profile multi-crore drug case while in office following seizure of huge quantity of illegal drugs from his residence in Imphal. Lhukhosei was not only one of the top drug lords in Manipur and beyond, but also said to be a chief financier for the KNO and certain Kuki politicians and even Meitei politicians.
Who really are Kuki immigrants and the so-called Any Kuki tribes in Manipur and their influence in Manipur? With its status as illegal Immigrants or non-native people in Myanmar, Kuki has no chance of recognition in Myanmar and they could not corrupt Myanmar government to manipulate the system. The KNO claim their original mission was creation of Kuki state in Myanmar and they later on claimed to demand a big ambitious Kuki independent country comprising of all the hill districts of Manipur, some parts of Assam, Nagaland and parts of Myanmar and Bangladesh. They knew that their claim in Myanmar had no basis and no prospect as Kuki is not even a recognised group of people in Myanmar. Chin ethnic group in Myanmar has 53 sub-groups and they are recognised as native people of Myanmar, but Kuki is not one of them.
Because Kuki is not recognised in Myanmar, the so-called Kukis of Myanmar moved to Manipur, while those who remained in Myanmar enlist themselves under a population code called ‘Other’ which Myanmar government created for foreigners and illegal immigrants. It is under this ‘Other’ code illegal immigrants like the Rohingyas and Kukis have to be recorded in Myanmar census because they have no other option. Therefore, Kuki illegal immigrants turned to Manipur in droves as they knew they could manipulate Manipur politicians and the corrupt and broken systems in Manipur. The KNO had shifted their base to Moreh and other parts of Chandel district and now Tengnoupal district in the early 1990s, and later on in other districts as well, in cahoots with Manipur Meitei and Kuki politicians and Indian Army / Assam Rifles. They always supported the ruling party during Congress era and were heavily involved in rigging votes for Congress candidates of their choice in their dominated areas.
In return, the Ibobi government agreed to the Kuki illegal immigrants’ demand to add Kuki to the list of Scheduled Tribes of Manipur which became a reality in 2003 under the style of ‘Any Kuki tribes’ Sl # 33 of the list in respect of Manipur state. This was cleverly designed to allow anyone from any culture anywhere in the world to become a legal scheduled tribe and settle in Manipur as long as they simply say they are Kuki and they fit in the Any Kuki tribes. Under this Kuki tribe, they don’t need to be able to prove their identity as one of the native or indigenous tribes of Manipur. Worthy to note is that all the native or indigenous tribes of Manipur had been duly recognised as scheduled tribes of Manipur under the 1956 tribe reorganisation Act of Indian parliament.
Kuki not in 1956 list of scheduled tribes of Manipur; distinction between Kuki and recognised native tribes of Manipur: Clear distinction or differentiation needs to be made between Kuki and all the other 32 scheduled tribes of Manipur. Prior to 2003, there never was an official record of ‘Kuki tribe” or ‘any Kuki tribes’ in Manipur except temporarily between 1951 and 1956, during when tribes of Manipur were broadly classified under Any Naga, Any Kuki and Any Mizo as a temporary arrangement until the completion of a linguistic tribe survey for the purpose of scheduling of native tribes of Manipur.
However, the Any Naga and Any Kuki tribes ceased to exist with the reorganisation of the pre-existing 29 native tribes of Manipur as scheduled tribes in 1956. The ‘Any Mizo’ tribe was renamed Any Mizo (Lushai) by virtue of Mizo or Lushai being a proper linguistic tribe of Manipur. Distinction needs to be made between Kuki and Zomi. Whereas Kuki is not a nomenclature consisting of any of the native tribes of Manipur that had been duly scheduled in 1956, Zomi is simply a collective nomenclature for several native tribes of Manipur that had been duly recognised and scheduled in 1956. Although we cannot rule out the possibility of the presence of illegal immigrants among other communities, there is no doubt the bulk of illegal immigrants in Manipur are the ‘any Kuki tribes’.
Since the creation of any Kuki tribes in 2003 there is actually no more Kuki or Kuki tribe(s), at least officially, other than those who belong to this particular tribe called ‘any Kuki tribes’ under sl. 33 of ST list of Manipur. This makes it easy to identify illegal immigrants from native tribes of Manipur from tribe certificates or last census record of 2011. Anyone who have entered their tribe name as ‘Kuki’ or ‘any Kuki’ or any Kuki tribes’ or a prefix (a family name/surname) to Kuki for example Khongsai Kuki, Haokip Kuki, Doungel Kuki, Baite Kuki, Lhungdim Kuki, Guite Kuki, Mate Kuki, Chongloi Kuki, Doungel Kuki, Hangshing Kuki, Kipgen Kuki, Misao Kuki, Lupho Kuki, Touthang Kuki, Lupheng Kuki, Hangmi Kuki etc. This cannot go wrong because Kuki illegal immigrants hate indigenous Thadou so much that they would never write Thadou as their tribe name in tribe certificate and census entry or any document to signify tribe name.
Historical ‘Khongjai’ not the same as Khongsai (Kuki or any Kuki tribes): The Thadous of Manipur were historically also known as ‘Khongjai’ by the Meiteis and Nagas. This is often mixed up with a new group of immigrant Kukis called ‘Khongsai’. There was no Khongsai in Manipur until recent time. This validates the claim that this group of people called Khongsai are among the Kuki illegal immigrants, not indigenous to Manipur or India. This Khongsai group are generally anti-Thadou, fanatic Kuki. They would prefer to die than to be Thadou although they speak the same language as Thadou. Actually, they steal Thadou language, Thadou attire and they call it Kuki language, Kuki attire.
Kuki attempt to steal and wipe out Thadou identity: In fact, Kuki illegal immigrants aka ‘any Kuki tribes’ or so called ‘Kukis’ have attempted to steal Thadou identity, such as language, culture, traditional attire, costumes, and try to rename it ‘Kuki’ in order to claim legitimacy as indigenous people because they are scared of being identified as illegal immigrants and deported from Manipur or India, especially due to the impending NRC exercise in Manipur. This is why they suppress and want to wipe out Thadou. They tried and still try to do the same thing in Myanmar where Kuki is not a recognised ethnic people, but they are classified as illegal immigrants and foreigner, in the same category as the Rohingyas from Bangladesh.
So called Kuki or any Kuki tribes in Manipur, among others, should be the first target to identify illegal immigrants. This should not be a difficult task as most of them have already recorded themselves in official documents as Kuki tribe or any Kuki tribes or Kuki with a prefix of their family name as explained above.
Danger of Kuki illegal immigrants: Recently published article in various newspapers on February 11-14, 2024 about census records for Manipur since the first census in 1881 (where Thadou was already recorded) revealed that while all other tribes have had census record since 1881 or in later census year, the first time Kuki had its first census record was only in the last census in 2011 with a population of 28,342. It is feared that more Kuki illegal immigrants in even larger numbers, believed to be in terms of many lakhs, than prior to the 2011 census might have migrated and settled in Manipur taking advantage of the porous border, free cross border movement and corruption in Manipur where it’s not difficult to obtain relevant official documents such as Aadhar card, tribe certificate, domicile certificate or enrol in electoral rolls. Especially in the hill areas where they already have connections and influence. Under the circumstances, population of ‘any Kuki tribes’ would have increased exponentially since 2011. It is possible that all these are those illegal Kuki immigrants who started entering Manipur from Myanmar from the late 1980’s.
Besides the ‘Any Kuki tribes’ of 2003, another concern is the addition of a family group/clan called ‘Mate’ to the list of Scheduled Tribes of Manipur in 2012 entered as Sl.34 in the list. There has not been a census record for this new tribe but like the Any Kuki tribes, Mate tribe is also potential of being a loophole for illegal immigrants and outsiders to gain access to Manipur, masquerading as Manipur native people or Indian citizens.
The fear of large influx of illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries through the Any Kuki tribes is real and cannot be simply ignored as unfounded fear because Manipur is already at high risk of being overpopulated by non-Manipur people or illegal immigrants leading to all sorts of problems due to irreversible situation of serious demographic and power imbalance, where the Manipur native people become a minority and powerless in their own homeland.
Emergence of new wave of Kuki supremacist movement: Activities of anti-Meitei, anti-Manipur and even anti-India agenda and policies became more glaring in the combined personalities of ultra-Kuki extremist, communal and passionate pseudo-politicians viz Saikot MLA Paolienlal, Benjamin Mate, Thangminlen Kipgen (Kuki Inpi Kangpokpi leader) and Lamtinthang Haokip who actively engaged in ultra radical divisive and communal Kuki politics and narratives in social media to achieve their political ambitions. They have successfully brainwashed and radicalised many Kukis, particularly the youth, with their anti-Meitei, anti-Manipur narratives and Kuki supremacist ideology and concerted campaign even more vigorously since 2020.
While Paolienlal, unnamed co-author of KNO ‘Zalengam – Land of the Kukis’ (the named author being his close relative PS Haokip, KNO president), got elected as first time MLA from Saikot in the last Manipur elections in 2022, Benjamin Mate, Thangminlen Kipgen and Lamtinthang Haokip have not yet been successful in election. Lamtinthang is still a Congress leader, Benjamin Mate a BJP executive and Paolienlal still a BJP MLA despite their open involvement in communally-charged hate speech and incitement in current violence. These pseudo politicians have nothing good to sell to their electorate other than anti-Meitei, anti-Manipur, anti-Naga emotive communal narratives, hence they do what they have been doing.
The four formed a social platform called ‘Youth For Change’ (Y4C) in 2020 with tacit support of Kuki militant groups including the KNO and their leaders like KNO president PS Haokip and KNO spokesman Seilen Haokip, Thangboi @Thahpi, Th German Kuki, Thongsei Haokip and other Kuki SoO group leaders. All of these Kuki extremists have been influenced or supported by Dr T Lunkim, the powerful supremo of Kuki Christian Church (KCC) and the main architect of the Any Kuki tribes and the idea of fictitious Kuki sovereign independent country. With strong foreign funding, Dr T Lunkim and his KCC had been able to flex its influence among all the Kuki underground and civil organisations, particularly the KNO, Kuki Inpi, KSO, Kuki Khanglai Lawmpi etc. Kuki Christian Church and its Trulock Theological Seminary with its headquarters at Dewlahland in Imphal was and continues to be a major centre of Kuki radicalism and Kuki extremism. The KCC headquarters has moved to Kangpokpi district headquarters after the Kuki-Meitei violence started. This group of extremist Kuki supremacists control Kuki society by using violence and championing Kuki supremacist agenda.
The successful indulgence of Kuki supremacists in Manipur politics, elections and successive state governments was possible as they managed to successfully form an alliance with powerful Meitei politicians, including chief ministers like RK Dorendra, RK Ranbir, O Ibobi who all belonged to the Congress party. They also befriended Meitei CSO leaders. One tactic the Kuki underground groups and politicians used was their being strongly anti-Naga and supporting Manipur integrity. Because of this the Meiteis believed them, which came handy for the KNO groups and their politicians (MLAs) in preparing for future war against the Meitei and Manipur state, which the Meiteis only realised when the long-planned agenda finally broke out on May 3, 2023 in Churachandpur when Kuki militants started to attack Meiteis in Kangvai area, followed by attacks and burning down of hundreds of Meitei homes and properties in Churachandpur and Moreh and attacks and retaliatory attacks in other parts of the state including Imphal valley and peripheral areas in Thoubal, Bishnupur and Kangpokpi districts.
Creation of 7 new districts on December 9, 2016 by then Congress government under the chief ministership of O. Ibobi to appease the Kuki groups close to election date was taken by Kuki groups as a kind of future separate administration for the Kukis. Although this may have in fact been for administrative reasons, it greatly boosted and paved the way for future anti-Meitei Kuki separatist movement which took an unprecedented violent turn on May 3, 2023. Congress party especially the successive governments of former chief minister O. Ibobi was indeed a great blessing and booster to Kuki separatists and their movement.
Change of guard and why Kuki illegal immigrants hate chief minister N Biren Singh so much? Unlike the Congress government under O Ibobi Singh, the BJP government under Biren Singh, particularly in its second term, came to be hated by Kuki supremacist and extremist groups for certain reasons. Chief minister N Biren Singh took some much-needed bold steps in enforcement of existing laws relating to forest, illegal occupation of government lands, drug business, poppy cultivation and illegal activities of Kuki SoO groups, illegal immigrants and border security. His government gave due recognition to the indigenous tribes and people of Manipur while being tough on the issue of illegal immigrants and poppy plantation. This was used by some Kuki politicians and leaders to campaign against Biren Singh with their engineered narratives of Kuki victimhood and discrimination at the hands of Manipur state government and Meitei community.
They instigated innocent people to take out their anger in the streets with all kinds of explosive anti-Meitei slogans with readiness to resort to violence. The issue of forest and other genuine important issues of tribal concern and resentment were never taken up by Kuki MLAs in the Assembly, which is the right platform, but they readily take them to the streets and social media. This shows they are not serious about resolving those issues but use them to incite the community against the government and another community for their narrow selfish political gains.
Widespread Kuki supremacist theory and hate campaigns in social media: Taking advantage of the powerfulness of social media, those group of warmongering ultra-Kuki supremacists, a combined force of armed Kuki militants, politicians, KUKI CSOs and Kuki church leaders, exploited well many brainwashed Kuki youths to propagate supremacist and hate campaigns in various social media platforms, Facebook and Whatsapp groups. Their propaganda is usually based on Kuki supremacist theories, such as that Kuki was and is a sovereign nation state that fought against the British empire and the so-called ‘Anglo-Kuki’ war had not yet concluded and that United Nations is going to settle the political problems of the Kukis in the form of recognition of ‘Zalengam’, what they claim is the sovereign ancestral land of the Kukis, as a sovereign nation state.
KCC leaders Dr T Lunkim and Dr Satkai Chongloi and KNO president PS Haokip are famous for making foreign trips with this kind of false propaganda and fooling many of their own ignorant people, who would in turn believe that Indian or Manipur state laws don’t apply to Kukis because Kukis, they believe, are sovereign people from the British time till now. Just like the Hitler Nazi race theory of Aryan superiority as justification for exterminating millions of Jews in Germany, Kuki supremacists also propagate and promote a racial or ethnic superiority theory that Kuki is an internationally recognised race or name that is superior to all other groups of people in north-east India and south and south-east Asia while portraying other groups of people such as Thadou, Zomi, Mizo, Zo, Naga or Meitei as inferior to Kuki.
These Kuki supremacists glorify war and violence to promote Kuki supremacy at the cost of suffering others. Even in the ongoing Kuki-Meitei violence, they acted smartly by starting the fire in Churachandpur and let it spread quickly to other parts of the state, where others have suffered most while they stay safe within their comfort or safe zone in inner Churachandpur. They knew the Meiteis would not be able to attack their strongholds in inner Churachandpur, including town and Tuibuang areas, as security is tightened in outer Churachandpur areas bordering Bishnupur district. See how they say they are demanding separation administration from Manipur state and incite their own people for violence against Meiteis and Manipur state while they happily continue to maintain ties with Manipur state administration and government and enjoy all benefits as usual.
Social media platforms used for such widespread hate campaigns are prominently run or exploited by some active social media user Kuki supremacy propagandists like Sonboy (Hemlalson) Lhungdim @ USB of Moreh Alert and employee of MSF Moreh, Kaigoulal Kipgen @ Leo’s Kipgen Kuki (SDC/MCS officer under Manipur government), Kyai Khongsai (Thangtinkai) Manipur police, Hejang Misao (Inside North East NGO), Ngamlen Haolai, Ngamlen Touthang (Navy), Seikholen @ Len Khongsai (BSF). Another group is Kuki scholars or academics like Professor Dr Thangkholim Haokip @ TT Haokip (NEHU) Dr Robert Thongkholal Haokip (JNU), Dr TS Letkhosei Haokip (WKZIC), Dr Jangmang Guite (JNU) and others. Interestingly some of these people are government-funded NGO workers or Manipur state or central government employees, who spend their time and money on full-on hate campaigns against another community and actively engage in anti-state, anti- national activities.
Case example of illegal immigrant Kuki separatists and need for investigation into their legal status in India and Manipur: One of the most vocal ultra-Kuki supremacists is one Luntinsat Kipgen @ LS Kipgen, a close associate of KNO president PS Haokip and an ardent champion of Kuki Zalengam and Kuki supremacist movement. Luntinsat was born and raised at Teijang village in Myanmar. A former leader of Kuki Students’ Democratic Front (KSDF), Luntinsat entered and settled in Manipur in early 1990s and ended up working as a Central government income-tax officer in Delhi. He is also a social media activist and a prominent writer on Kuki supremacist ideology and separatist movement and narratives against Manipur state, Meitei, Naga, Thadou, Zomi or Mizo. The question of Luntinsat’s legal status in India and whether he obtained his Indian citizenship and residency documents lawfully and through proper channel, if at all he is an Indian citizen, is doubtful and needs proper investigation by government authority because it is impossible to get Indian citizenship as a Myanmar refugee, unless there is a court order.
Mention may be made that India is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol and is not obliged by the convention or protocol on refugees. The legal status of even the Tibetans who were born and lived in India for decades remain to be refugee and foreigner, and they do not have citizenship rights, including political rights, which limits their access to government jobs, land or property and freedom of movement within and outside India – unless there is a court order on an individual case. Tibetan refugees have ‘Registration Certificate’ issued by Indian government but this is not an Indian permanent residency or citizenship.
Luntinsat’s case is probably a prime case example of the influx of thousands or lakhs of illegal immigrants into Manipur and whether they procured documents for Manipur/Indian residency or citizenship through proper channel or legal means just like the case of ZRO/ZRA president Thanglianpao Guite who was an MP in Myanmar and KNO president PS Haokip who was allegedly born at Molnoi village in Myanmar and lived in Nagaland state until he moved to Manipur to become the president of KNO/KNA towards the end of the long-drawn Kuk-Naga violent conflict in the 1990s. All individuals who have obtained benefits as an Indian citizen when they were actually not, should be legally required to forfeit the benefits, be it Indian passport, employment, land, property or anything.
Role of hate preacher pseudo-pastors and evangelists among Kukis inciting violence: Many Kuki church pastors and leaders have been actively preaching hate and inciting violence and war against Meitei and the state, promoting separatist movement. They effectively use social media platforms and church platforms for their hate campaigns. Prominent among them apart from KCC’s Dr T Lunkim are Dr Satkai Chongloi of KCC, Pastor Onkho Haokip of KBC and many more of Kuki church pastors. Interestingly, in a viral video evangelist Paogin Haokip was speaking from a church pulpit and exhorted church members to buy AK 47 rifles, vowing that he would sell properties of those who fled and use the money to buy guns because it’s war time to wage war against the Meiteis and the state. Many so-called Kuki churches in and outside Manipur (especially KCC, KBC, KWS) have become powerful political platforms and centres for Kuki supremacist teaching and radicalism for hate and violence. There are too many pseudo evangelists and pastors, and growing, among Kukis who publicly or openly preach for hate and violence contrary to the teaching of Jesus Christ and the bible which is all about love, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.
Advancement of ultra-Kuki supremacist policies, formation of ITLF and outbreak of large-scale violence in Churachandpur: While proponents of Kuki tribe/ Any Kuki tribes have always campaigned Kuki supremacy, Churachandpur had become the epicentre of such campaigns with the well establishment of their leaders including all leaders of Kuki militant groups under the KNO and their frontal organisations such as the Kuki Inpi, KSO, Kuki Khanglai Lawmpi (KKL) and recently the ITLF, World Kuki-Zo Intellectual Council (WKZIC). Saikot MLA Paolienlal Haokip became the pride of these people and organisations and they saw the rise of ultra-Kuki supremacist Paolienlal just like the rise of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. Paolienlal’s idea and manifesto of Kuki movement and Kuki sovereignty had been recorded in the book ‘Zalengam’ just like Hitler wrote his manifesto in his book ‘Mein Kampf’ in 1925. However, their plan did not materialise as Paolienlal’s ambition to be Manipur’s deputy chief minister under N Biren Singh failed. He proposed himself to be the Dy CM with the support of Kuki organisations, including the KNO, KSO and Kuki Inpi.
ITLF was formed with the support and sponsorship from the KNO and Churachandpur-based Kuki MLAs and Kuki CSOs with an aim to unleash a reign of unprecedented terror, destruction and violence against the state and Meitei community. Withdrawal of Manipur state government from SoO agreement with the KNA, ZRA and KRA on March 10, 2023 for repeated serious breach of SoO ground rules by the three groups was another factor for the violence. Another major cause of the outbreak of violence was the return of the glory of Thadou tribe in Manipur, particularly the unprecedented grand celebration of Hun Thadou festival at Kangpokpi in mid-April 2023. The over-jealous anti-Thadou, Kuki supremacists could not tolerate this and they felt they had to suppress Thadou tribe and find an excuse to topple the government that they thought was supporting Thadou tribe and Kuki or Kuki supremacy was losing its relevance and influence in Manipur unlike before. Another flashpoint was the state government decision (dated 8th February 2023 but leaked later on) to delete Kuki (aka ‘any Kuki tribes’) from ST list of Manipur and the much-hyped implementation of NRC in Manipur.
One of the strategic plans of Kuki supremacists was to control the whole Manipur society and advance their Kuki Zalengam movement through Paolienlal and their chosen Kuki MLAs being at the helm of Manipur government. They also campaigned for anyone out of the 6 MLAs of Churachandpur and Pherzawl to be inducted into N Biren Singh’s cabinet, however this flopped quickly as chief minister Biren Singh favoured LM Khaute instead of Paolienlal who had hatched the plan for him to be the pick for the cabinet minister post. This infuriated Paolienlal and his supporters and anti-Khaute group or supporters of former minister Hangkhanlian in Churachandpur.
All these factors and some other factors combined together led to increased sense of insecurity among the Kuki supremacists and eventual eruption of the inevitable Kuki war against Meitei and Manipur on May 3b 2023. They started a series of violent protests in Churachandpur against the chief minister and the state, followed by ATSUM protest rally on May 3, 2023 against Meitei ST demand and counter protest by Meiteis. ATSUM rally was said to be secretly sponsored by some Kuki and Zomi MLAs including minister Letpao Haokip, Paolienlal Haokip, Letzamang Haokip, Chinlunthang Zou, Kimneo Hangshing. ATSUM protest rally was not necessary as the matter of Meitei ST demand was sub-judice in court following objections lodged by a tribal group, the All Manipur Tribal Union. Moreover, it was well known that grant of ST demand is a prerogative of the government with majority approval of the Indian parliament, not of Court. The truth, however, is that ATSUM protest was a pre-planned coordinated event to explode in all the hill districts at the same time to affect all tribals and non-Meitei communities of Manipur.
Pre-planned violence & Declaration of Kuki war against Meiteis and Manipur state: At the ITLF meeting in Churachandpur on May 13, 2023 Sominthang Doungel, leader of Kuki Inpi Manipur, declared war on Meiteis and the state as he was speaking passionately about the war and strategies (the video was telecast live on Churachandpur-based Tullou TV news and available on Youtube under the title ‘Declaration of war on Meiteis & Manipur State’. This points to the assertion that the violence was preplanned by Kukis. All events in Churachandpur leading up to the outbreak of violence on May 3 and thereafter suggest the ongoing violence is a show of force by Kuki supremacists who wanted to show their relevance and that they have to be appeased at all times, otherwise they are capable of creating problems if they don’t get what they want.
Involvement of well-trained fighters, a combined force of Kuki SoO and non-SoO groups and Kuki mercenaries or insurgents from Myanmar and Bangladesh in the sustained Kuki war efforts in Manipur, cannot be disputed given the nature of the aggressions and use of sophisticated and heavy weapons like heavy machine guns, snipers, bombs, rockets, high-powered rocket launchers and drones as well as the timing of all related events, readiness and continuous availability of inexhaustible supplies, weapons, money, manpower, food and other resources. This proves this Kuki war was well preplanned.
Failure to distinguish between Kuki and other tribes a great blunder: While the ATSUM protest begun and ended peacefully in all other hill districts, in Churachandpur it begun violently and ended violently in unprecedented communal riots and violence against the Meiteis with attacks and counter attacks involving people from both communities. What was most unfortunate was the spontaneous retaliatory attacks by Meiteis against the Kukis had affected non-Kuki tribes like the Zomi, Mizo and Thadou, who never wanted to identify as Kuki. It was a great blunder on the part of the Meiteis to fail to distinguish Kuki or Kuki illegal immigrants (aka Any Kuki tribes) from other tribes who hate to be called Kuki.
The way forward and light at the end of tunnel: Manipur government’s recent announcement to implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Manipur with 1961 as base year and to detect and deport all illegal immigrants will certainly be a herculean exercise, but positive. The choice of 1961 as base year instead of 1951 is a wise decision by the state government as this will prevent or minimise possible unintended negative impact on indigenous tribes or people of Manipur that had been included in the 1961 census. Significantly the 1951 census did not include population count on individual tribe basis because there was no such census on individual tribe basis in post-independent India until reorganisation of all the 29 native tribes of Manipur in 1956.
NRC in Manipur is untested and we cannot tell how successful it would be to identify and deport illegal immigrants but it seems to be a right step in view of the real danger and concerns about illegal immigrants in the state. If this Any Kuki tribes is not removed it would be exploited by lakhs or even crores of illegal immigrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh including Kuki, Rohingyas, Chakma, Karen, Arakan, Shan and other groups of people from Myanmar and Bangladesh and beyond. Because of the ongoing instability and civil war in Myanmar, the potential of refugees fleeing to Manipur, India will continue to grow even bigger in the years to come. The way Indian government and Manipur state government are dealing with Kuki illegal immigrants and Kuki terrorists or militants, including SoO groups and their frontal organisations like Kuki Inpi, KSO, ITLF, COTU etc, is too late, too soft. Nonetheless, the Indian government and state government should start dealing seriously with them like terrorist organisations and terrorists just as they deserve.
Implementation of NRC along with border fencing, ending of Free Regime Movement (FRM), deletion of the ‘any Kuki tribes’ of 2003 and Mate tribe of 2012, abrogation of Kuki SoO agreement or outlawing all armed Kuki militant groups and identification and cancellation of fake Kuki voters, villages and any Kuki tribe certificates will be a significant step in detecting illegal immigrants and preventing them from illegally entering and settling in Manipur in the future. This will then help prevent similar problems in the future.
Mizoram state has lately been facing the same issue due to entry of large number of refugees and illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar and more recently from Manipur after May 3, 2023. This is despite the existence of Inner Line Permit system in Mizoram since 1930 – then Lushai Hills district. The new ZPM government in Mizoram recently issued an order restricting land ownership to outsiders and is in the process of bringing in a new illegal immigrant bill to check and restrict illegal immigrants and movement and residency of outsiders (people from outside of Mizoram).
The Manipur state government with the help of central government and Manipur CSOs and public must unitedly face the challenges from Kuki illegal immigrants and finish the mission to secure safe, peaceful and progressive new Manipur, sans illegal immigrants, in the best interest of the state and all Manipur people of the present and future generations.
Solution and action plans:
For permanent peace and stability and integrity of Manipur and to end the ongoing violence in the state and to prevent similar situations in future, the following should be considered and actioned as a matter of top priority and urgency. Otherwise, it is simply continuous living under Kuki terrorism and waiting for another even bigger Kuki aggression or war.
1. Implement NRC with 1961 as base year with documents obtainable by all genuine Manipur people as proof of citizenship.
2. Special attention be given to individuals who enlisted under the ‘Any Kuki tribes’ or Kuki in 2011 census and all records of tribe certificates with any indication of Kuki or ‘Any Kuki tribes’ or Kuki with a prefix of a family name. Among other ways, this would be one of the easiest and surest ways to detect illegal immigrants in Manipur. Anything with ‘Kuki’ is an automatic red flag for decertification and disqualification and eventual deportation.
3. Immediately remove the ‘Any Kuki tribes’ and ‘Mate tribe’ from the list of Scheduled Tribes of Manipur.
4. Make it illegal to obtain a tribe certificate any tribal benefits and schemes in the name of Kuki tribe (any Kuki tribes) and Mate tribe and require such benefits, including employment, admissions and schemes obtained under tribal quota to be forfeited or cancelled.
5. Exclude Kuki or Any Kuki tribes and Mate in all future census.
6. Identify illegal immigrants in electors rolls and remove them from the rolls
7. Pass a bill in Manipur Legislative Assembly not to recognise any new group of people as a tribe or scheduled tribe
8. Ban all Kuki armed groups (SoO groups) and Kuki organisations including Kuki Inpi, KSO, Kuki Chiefs Association, Kuki Khanglai Lawmpi and all other Kuki organisations that has connections with Kuki separatism and Kuki terrorism.
9. Ban foreign funding of Kuki churches particularly the Kuki Christian Church (KCC), it’s college Trulock Theological Seminary and monitor their financial transactions and organisational activities.
10. Ban ITLF (Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum) and COTU (Committee on Tribal Unity).
11. Freeze the bank accounts of all these Kuki organisations, including ITLF and COTU.
12. Ban the book ‘Zalengam’ Land of the Kukis and any books authored by PS Haokip, President, KNO.
13. Monitor activities in social media platforms to check hate speeches and massages and take stern actions against those engaging in such activities, especially government employees, elected members and CSO leaders and also ban such media platforms.
14. Consider reorganisation of districts of Manipur, redrawing Kuki-dominated district boundaries and merge them with hill or valley districts as suitable. If they could be created overnight just for election purpose, why not reorganise them for the sake of state integrity and in the best interest of the state?
15. Create a new Moirang district that will include plain areas of Churachandpur district, including Tuibuong and Sagang areas.
16. Consider redrawing or adjusting Kuki-dominated ACs, particularly Saikot to be split as large part of it can be merged with Moirang AC and Kumbi AC and the remaining inner areas be merged with Singhat AC and Churachandpur AC. Saikot AC is where the headquarters of Kuki supremacist and separatist policy and movement is situated and from where they spread to other places.
17. Pass a bill to regulate and support ST of Manipur where each tribe apex body will come under the purview of the state government with a budget allocation for necessary expenditure pertaining to the development, advancement and organisation of each tribe. State government to build a complex in Imphal where all tribe bodies will have their office to strengthen integrity and relationships among tribes of Manipur.
18. Strict implementation of Manipur Revenue Department prescribed guidelines for issuance of tribe certificates; particularly Annexure A (7) (ii) proof of tribe/certificate of membership, which requires a certificate of membership in tribe issued by President/Secretary or any other competent authority of the association of the tribe concerned.
19. Introduce a computerised system to record issuance of tribe/caste/domicile certificates.
20. Introduce a Unique Identification Card for Indian citizen native permanent residents of the state of Manipur, that shall contain personal details such as full name, date of birth, address, tribe/caste name, residency status with a requirement for renewal on expiry of the card.
21. Introduce identity card for temporary residents and illegal immigrants.
22. Make peace with all the native tribes of Manipur excluding the ‘any Kuki tribes’ and any Kuki organisations and support an accelrate the process of safe return and resettlement to their respective homes, including provision of adequate security and financial support.

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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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