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Hereditary Kuki chieftainship should be abolished: Maheshwar Thounaojam

by Aribam Bishwajit
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Hereditary Kuki chieftainship should be abolished: Maheshwar Thounaojam

IT News
Imphal, Jan 27:

Maheshwar Thounaojam, the National General Secretary of the Republican Party of India (RPI) Athawale, has voiced serious concerns, alleging that within the Kuki communities, militant groups are organized based on specific surnames and village chiefs. In a press conference held at his residence in Keishampat, he questioned the unbridled use of arms by these groups and their pervasive dominance.
Thounaojam pointed to the Manipur (Hill Areas) Acquisition of Chief’s Rights Act 1967, expressing dismay at the incomplete implementation of this legislation by the Government of Manipur. He stated, “How have they been allowed to use arms freely? How are they allowed to dominate like that? There is this act that was passed in 1967, called the ‘Manipur (Hill Areas) Acquisition of Chief’s Rights Act 1967.’ Though this act was passed in 1967, it is not yet implemented by the Government of Manipur fully. How come the previous or the current government unable to implement it fully?”
While acknowledging the Naga communities for their commendable practices in selecting village chiefs through public involvement and proper procedures, Maheshwar expressed his appreciation. He stated, “In Naga-dominated areas, the Naga communities have been properly selecting their village chief by the public or through proper ways. And through the village chiefs, they discuss when any issue arises.”
However, the tone shifted as he leveled serious allegations against Kuki-dominated areas. He claimed, “However, in Kuki-dominated areas, hereditary chieftainship persists, allowing chiefs to act autonomously and exert dominance. Moreover, they have imposed unlawful rules, restricting freedoms, and have even gone to the extent of forming militant groups for every surname.”
Highlighting a stark contrast, Maheshwar emphasized, “In all eight northeast states, Manipur stands alone as the only state where hereditary chieftainship has not been abolished. Assam did away with it in 1954, Mizoram in 1955, and even in Myanmar. Under the Village Authority Act, 1956, the Kukis have been allegedly resorting to the recruitment of illegal immigrants to establish villages, appoint village chiefs, and wield unchecked authority, forming militant groups and acquiring arms.”
He continued his critique, stating, “Their tactics include bringing in illegal immigrants, appointing village chiefs, forming militant groups, manipulating elections, and engaging in extortion—all of which run counter to the principles of a democratic government. Therefore, the pressing question is why hereditary chieftainship has not been abolished, raising concerns about the integrity of the democratic processes in Manipur.” He earnestly appealed to the Government of Manipur to promptly enforce the Act and underscored the imperative of abolishing hereditary chieftainship.

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