Many scholarly write-ups seen on the issue of the present conflict between Meiteis and Kuki and related tribes in the last 3 months plus period. All the write-ups mostly suggesting the possible resolution of the conflicts vis-a-vis the causes.
To resolve a problem/problems or rather to heal a disease - the clinching of diagnosis is a must. Hence, we would like to repeat and emphasize on some of the root causes already enlightened by some writers especially Home Raikhan – Sangai Express dated 24/07/23, Yenning – Sangai Express dated 09/07/23 and a few additions.
1. The migration of Kukis into Manipur was more of a flood after 1857. The British used Mangjahu Kuki, chief of Khangdosei and Thadou Kukis to enter deceptively the barracks of Sylhet and Silcharon the pretext of joining the sepoy mutiny of 1857. The number was so great, they could kill all the sepoys in both barracks and captured huge number of firearms and ammunitions and turned over to the sarkar (British). The British rulers were so pleased – many arms and ammunitions were gifted to the Kukis. Subsequently, Kukis went on a big rampage destroying many indigenous Naga villages. This violent rampaging is known as Tingtongreh/Haokiplal in the western sector of Manipur. Over 1000 Kabuis killed and 34 villages displaced. Maj. Mccullock initiated punitive campaigns stretching over a long period and it culminated with the subduing of the Kuki rebellion of 1918-19 for refusing to contribute Labour Corps. During this Tingtong reh– many Kabuis were displaced and migrated to the valleys and western foothills of Manipur. Prof. Gangumei rightly called Maj. Mccullock the father of Kuki migration.
On Northeastern areas of Manipur Kukis attacked Chingjaroi village in 1892 and killed 286 – mostly women and children. Hence, there was time when the village of Chingjaroi requested the neighbouring Naga villages to give marriageable women to repopulate Chingjaroi. Poumai and Chakhesang complied with and hence today we see the village as a composite of Tangkhul, Poumai and Chakhesang. So also the dialect uniquely interesting. After Chingjaroi, Ngahui, Zingsui and Mapum almost completely destroyed. A few escaped hiding in the forest. A big village called Shifong bordering Burma was wiped out in 1888. Maharaja Surchandra sent his brother Senapati Tikendrajit for punitive campaign in December 1888. Chassad Kukis were defeated and captured Tonghu with 20 prisoners and imposed a fine of Rs 800/- etc.
2. After the World War II, there were many Gorkhas – retired soldiers along with many Kuki porters for Allied forces who were seeking resettlement in Manipur. Late Maj. Bob Khathing, who played a big role during World War II later became Hill Minister, Union Territory of Manipur, opened one settlement called ‘Shepmanai’ – now corrupted into Saparmaina, 15 km North of Motbung to accommodate the Gorkhas and Kukis. The settlement area originally belonged to Lengmai but their permission not sought for. Gorkhas migration from elsewhere followed but Kukis much more. In no time Kuki settlements spread downward and upward along the National Highway.
3. Late R Suisa – Ex MP, outer Manipur, during his tenure 1950-55 requested the government of India to recognize the Kukis/migrants as bonafide refugees and grant relief funds. This augmented fresh Kuki migration.
4. In 1974 Manipur after becoming a full-fledged state went through a short period of presidential rule. During this period, there were 2500 Kuki refugees contained at Konkan Thana. Late Dr Rishang Keishing was wary of his political future initiated to settle this group in the land between Yaingangpokpi and Sanakeithei by declaring open forest. The land originally belonged to Hongman to the West and Thawai to the East. The villagers of these two were not taken into confidence and much less consulted (oral testimony of Thawai village). Hence, the present Kangpokpi district and its foundation laid by three Tangkhul stalwarts of the past.
5. As a gesture of gratitude to the Nagas for accommodating the Kukis in their lands and three Tangkhul stalwarts giving services of kindness, in 1989 March (date off record) KNA wrote a memorandum to Buta Singh, Home Minister of India, to train and arm Kuki youths and liberal sanction of money. In the memorandum Kukis vowed to subdue the Naga Independence Movement in 5 years which the Indian army failed to execute in 40 years. The memorandum was signed by the President, KNA and Secretary late Maj Pugin Kipgen (details with relevant group for future litigation in the International Court of Justice).
Home Raikhan mentioned in his article “Resolving Kuki-Zo-Chin and Meitei conflict” about suspicion of the involvement of Central government of India. Home Ministry initiated using RAW to execute the heinous crimes against humanity using Kukis against the Nagas. Late RK Ranabir (Chief Minister) and late C Doungel (Finance Minister) were fine tuned for this ethnic cleansing/civil war using one community (Kuki) against the Nagas – unfolding the horrendous ethnic clash of 1992-94, the very brain work of Home Ministry and RAW. Another major contributor was Dr SC Jamir the then Chief Minister of Nagaland.
His letter of endorsement for Col Joy Singh and his team – sent as a special team to incite communal clash/ethnic cleansing using Meiteis and Kukis jointly against the Nagas. SC Jamir’s letter of endorsement for Col Joy Singh and team was seized at Inspection Bungalow, Bishnupur in September 1989, a sequence to Col Joy Singh molesting IB chawkidar’s daughter when celebrating completion of mission with RAW officials. This incidence was hushed up but by the act of divine, it came into the hands of Human Rights watch group. The GoI inciting communal clash to solve political problems! The present Meitei Kuki clash could be the second handiwork of Home Ministry and that could be the reason Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India keeping silent till shameful incidence was on the social media for all to see.
Now today the tide is in a reverse course. Meitei turning on to Kuki-Zo-Chin. Where is the hand and heart of Home Ministry and RAW in this clash? Meiteis do not trust Assam Rifles and already requested for keeping them outside the scene of Manipur. The Home Minister and the Prime Minister with so much of proximity and intimacy known to all, Amit Shah after his two visits to Manipur must have conveyed/advised that the usual communal turmoils taking place all over Hindustan under the doctrines of Hindutsva was happening in Manipur. The political drama of BJP in Manipur is unprecedented. Chief Minister N Biren Singh holding the charge of Home as well and losing the control of armouries is deplorable. Losing to the tune of 3500 plus arms and over 5 lakhs of ammunitions - simply deplorable and condemnable. If N Biren Singh has any sense of moral dignity, he should resign even if his supporters prevented him to do. It should not be a political drama. If the past events are followed, presidential rule a must. Besides, the people of Manipur should know for sure that the present conflicts are not related to narcotic trades. Try to face the facts squarely. The rule of law has become very blurred in the eyes of the present ministry.
Now to sum up the root causes of the present Meitei and Kuki-Zo-Chin conflict:
I. Undue influx of Kukis since 1840 and grabbing of lands.
II. Old wounds of Kuki savagery against the aborigines Nagas was about to be forgotten and healed after the coming of the gospel of Jesus Christ in late 19th century. Minor conflicts here and there were considered forgivable and to be ignored but thanks to Home Ministry and RAW with the involvement of Manipur and Nagaland government under SC Jamir opened the wound of conflicts and let blood flow red in the hills of Manipur during 1992-94.In the present conflict between Meiteis and Kuki-Zo, the subtle involvement of Home Ministry is very likely.
III. With no sense of malice we want to state the facts that the Kukis have been building up their domains through craftiness. Many history records written by Eastern Frontiers of India by T H Lewis, Notes on Thadou Kukis by W Shaw, The Tribes of Manipur by T C Hodson, The Diary of Col Johnstone – many more wrote the history of nomadic-restless Kukis shifting their settlements many times by violence.
Man may cheat man for sometimes …… nay all the times but not God. Since the present Kuki-Zo profess Christian faith, we wish to remind the immutable word of God that your sin/sins will find you out (Num 32:23).
On June 30th 2023 your “World Kuki-Zo Intellectual Council (WKZIC)” in their memorandum to Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, mentioned (Page 5, 2nd para) that NSCN (IM) did ethnic cleansing of the Kukis during 1992-97. Whereas, the truth was the Kukis did ethnic cleansing of the Nagas with the vow that they would subdue Naga Independence Movement in 5 years. And in 1995-97 you forgot your bloodthirsty conflict with your own Zo/Zous. Now you are in conflict with the Meiteis. You have deceived the whole world with your deceits – even the European Parliament. One of your intellectual and signatory of the memorandum is Dr. H H Mate, probably knighted. There should be pursuits to defrock and your deceitful ways of campaigning for sympathy all over the world.
IV. O Ibobi, the longest congress ruling Chief Minister forgot that he was mentored by a noble person – late Dr Rishang Keishing and all through his ministry the worst fangs in him was displayed and alienated the Nagas. He created Kangpokpi district lavishly taking away many ancestral areas of the Nagas without even consulting. Sadar hills of Kangpokpi district was known as Khaorui and many Tangkhul villages were growing cotton and the Yang Tangkhul did the weaving of clothes (T C Hodson). Kangpokpi is corrupted name of Kangui (Naga name). The Meiteis politically treated the Kuki-Zo as the favoured one for more than 30 years. The tribals in the hill areas of Manipur were fed with the fallen grumbs from the table, however, Kukis and the kindred were far better fed. Hence, the Meiteis seems to be reaping what you sowed in over 30 years of political dispensations. Good to introspect. Now the Meiteis should help to reclaim the land you apportioned to the Kukis in the past. Nagas will never claim the land that belongs to others and not touch even an inch of your Kangleipak.
Inevitable political dispensation seems to be in the offing. Let us not fight for integrity of Manipur which was sealed by the fact of Kangleipak by your very own maharaja. Now how to solve/resolve the conflict? Supreme Court seem to sense the lack of honesty and hence initiated certain steps apart from political steps. It is in the right course. Pursue earnestly and solve the problems for good. Let it not be the usual symptomatic suppression for political reasons especially in view of the coming Lok Sabha election in 2024 etc.
Wishing you all the best.
Chairman, Tangkhul Kharar Long
Secretary, Tangkhul Kharar Long
Dr Nelson Vashum