Kuki-Meiteis: Not Border Fencing but Farewell will

Luntinsat Kipgen

During his visit to Moreh, an Indo-Burma Kuki dominated hill town, Honorable Lok Sabha Member of Parliament, Pu Charenamei was presented a memorandum by the Hill Tribal Council (HTC), the Kuki Women Union and Human Rights and the Kuki Students’ Organization (Moreh Block). Of the points demanded by the three bodies in the said memorandum, the Indo-Burma border fencing which if fulfilled will not be free from the negative impact as it will further divide ties between the Kuki people in Burma and in India. Even now, due to cultural, tradition and language affinity to the respective nations –India and Burma - to which they at present belong, there has already been differences in usage and accent in language so much that at times they don’t understand each other on certain words.

While meeting the visiting MP in one occasion, L. Imobi, chairman of the Meitei Council, Moreh did not miss any opportunity to give an artful display of rhetoric expression to earn favour when he requested the former to initiate investigation on why the business communities are fast disappearing from the trading town of Moreh. Also, the MCM appealed the Nagas who had fled during the Kuki-Naga ethnic clash to come back to Moreh and resume their business. (The Sangai Express June 22, 2007). In fact, this might not either impress or surprise Pu Charenamei because it is well known that most Meiteis leaders are bluff masters, well versed in utterances of such statements.

Without a thorough understanding, one may, by being opposed to and fighting against communalism for justice, appear to be communal. Such is the case of the Kuki community whose past goodness or innocence has brought them problems after problems the tackling of which has compel them to appear to be one of the worst people on earth today. Few injustices played on the Kukis because of their ethnicity are cited below.

In the heart of Imphal city, the capital of Manipur, the Meiteis who keep shouting the slogan “Manipur Kaiba Yaroi” (No disintegration of Manipur) and singing the song, “Hingminnasi Eikhoi” (Let us live together), have forcefully evicted without any compensation two Kuki colonies namely Chikim Veng and Doupao Veng a decade ago. The Chikim Veng, a land plot, which was purchased directly from one of the descendants of the Manipuri King was, however, forcefully vacated on the ground that it was the Meitei national land and did not belong to the King, and therefore, the King’s great grandson had no legitimate right to sell the land at all as such.

While the other locality, Doupao Veng was evicted on the ground that it was illegal settlement on the Imphal river embankment. But what about the Meitei Leikais built on the same river embankments, whose house columns are openly seen standing along the internal riverbank? (Have the western back view of Paona Bazar from the link road that runs along the opposite river bank connecting Churachandpur bus parking and Uripok-Sagolban Traffic point.) The question that begs to be answered is would the two Kuki localities be evicted had they been of the Meiteis?

Besides these, the playground at Kekrupat on the eastern bank of Imphal river, surrounded by North A.O.C., Kangla Fort and New Lambulane, which had since decades ago been used by the Kuki localities of Zomivilla, Cannan Veng, New Lambulane and shared by the Muslim locality of Hatta was forcefully acquired in 2002 by the Meiteis organizations for the purpose of the June 18 Uprising Cemetery. This was done so in spite of strong protest by the said Kuki localities. Was this playground the only land available in Imphal for the site of June 18 Uprising Cemetery?  Would this playground be acquired if it were of the Meiteis? This heavy loss incurred on the Kukis in the post Uprising explains the exclusiveness of it.

Now, applying Newton’s third law of motion, “Every action has a reaction equal in magnitude but opposite in direction,” can the Kukis also not say that all the land plots held in Moreh by the Meiteis and the Meitei Temple compound on the hill top at Moreh Chikim veng as well were granted to them by an ex-MLA, Chandel, Pu Khaimeng during his tenure of office, are illegal encroachments and therefore must be evicted because he (Pu Khaimeng) has no legitimate right to sell the Kuki National Land? Can we also not say the same to the Meitei localities in Churachandpur?

Similarly, UNLF’s justification for its rampant presence in the Kuki territory by showing the land purchase receipt from chiefs or any Kuki individual can be negated. In this particular case, if it (UNLF’s purchase) is to be accepted, the fact that the said insurgent group being not confined to only within the plot they have owned has incriminated the group and therefore it is culpable under any law.

In all cases, the Kukis – both leaders and followers – from henceforth, need to be cautious of the Meitei proverb “Phomphom challaga hipphom challi” (A seat also guarantees a space for sleep). Thus, the past experience has taught us that living together with the Meitei community is like a dormant volcano that may erupt at any time. Hence, for permanent solution, it is time the Kukis propose for throwing a farewell party to the Meiteis in the same way the Manipur Nagas are doing; or shout for a separate political administration to the authority concerned, for as long as they stay together, the minority Kukis will always be the victims of violence because they can never equal the cruel majority Meiteis.

Luntinsat Kipgen is the General Secretary of the Kuki Students Democratic Front