We express our heartfelt condolence to the untimely demise of Kuki brethren, who lost their precious lives in the course of series of unfortunate incidents in Churachandpur District (Manipur: India): the two persons who were burnt alive, one who succumbed to an accident injury, and five others who were killed in the repression. We share the grievances of the families and pray for the departed souls to rest in peace. We also convey our goodwill message to all the injured persons to recover soon.
We are aware of the restive situation erupted from 31 August 2015 onwards, against the three bills recently passed by the Government of Manipur; which has now spread like wildfire in the Manipur Hills. About 13 days before, the incident in Moreh Town on 18 August was a clear signal that any political decision that may encapsulate the entire Manipur, if there is no deliberate policy agenda to make it become a matter of contention and unrest, must first of all fulfil prior informed consent of the peoples for whom the decision has to be taken. The government, however, have always acted above the community or popular conscience, as result of which dissentions and unrests have become the order of the day. We wonder if the policy makers were either sincerely ignorant about the latent unrest vis-à-vis the bills or simply feigning ignorance to test the tolerance and capability of dissention or simply igniting communal flames to disunite peoples, to serve certain authoritarian interests. Although we do not approve violent mobbing, riots and destruction of properties in the name of protest; we held the government fully accountable for creating an atmosphere of mistrust and violent agitations in the Kuki clustered areas.
We are also aware that before the Kukis and the Nagas rose in protest against the bills, the peoples in the Manipur Valley rose in agitations to demand Inner Line Permit System and they were brutally suppressed for some months. The unrest had affected the entire Manipur, particularly the larger bulk of the poor and daily wage earners. A student was killed in police action, about 450 were injured, hundreds were jailed and scores of properties were destroyed. All these could have been prevented, if the government had fulfilled the reasonable demand without delay. After causing much damage, the government, on 31 August, passed three bills, which partly fulfilled the demands and pacified the agitation. What becomes apparent, however, is; while the wounds in the Valley have not been fully healed, the government have designed the bills in such a manner that it opened the door to different interpretations that inflicted wounds in the Hills. A Pandora’s Box is being opened to let loose sensitive issues, thereby, letting the wounded communities into tensions. In the melee of projecting community enemies, those who are in power often escaped away from the collective scrutiny of their arrogances and misrules.
We are witness to the manner the Kukis have reacted to their immediate representatives, the MLAs. The MLAs were singled out for unrepresenting the dissenting voice and their luxurious houses were burnt. Although we could not approve such violence and destructions; we cannot deny that these convey the message about the power of popular struggle. All these exemplify that the existing relation of powers, between the rulers and the ruled, can be turned into upside down, at the wink of eye, if the peoples want it. The Kuki agitation is limited in scope, as it is centred on the resentment against the bills. Given the nature of the demand and the leadership, which could not magnify beyond the higher demand for either VI Schedule or different administrative state for the Kukis: revolutionary direction towards an overall regime change, to free the society from inequality and bourgeoisie misrule, is still missing. However, the misruled Nagas, Meeteis and other minorities in Manipur have a lot to learn about their latent collective strength from this particular episode of Kuki agitation. The Kuki experience can also serve as a constant reminder to whosoever comes to the power, to have a second thought in policy framing and implementations.
Finally, we once again express our heartfelt condolence to all those from the Meeteis and Kukis who lost their precious lives in the course of different agitations in the last few months. We convey our goodwill message to all the injured persons to recover soon. We congratulate those in the Valley who have partly achieved their demand. We also express our solidarity to the democratic struggle in the Hills by those who do not want the bills to encroach upon their rights. We appeal to all, to arrive at a point, to ensure that the rights of indigenous peoples are collectively protected from the outsiders and capital intrusion that grabs land and resources in the guise of projects such as dams, mining, oil drilling, civil and defence infrastructures.
“Long live people’s democratic struggle”
Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur)
4th September 2015.