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Panel discussions on ethnic conflicts in Manipur held
Source: The Sangai Express / Newmai News Network

Dimapur, October 30 2018: A panel discussion on "Ethnic Conflicts in Manipur: Issues and Challenges" was held on October 26 at the School of International Studies (SIS), JNU, New Delhi organised by Naga Scholars' Association (NSA).

Dr Zuchamo Yanthan, president of the association while welcoming the participants introduced the chairperson Prof Yaruingam Awungshi and two panelists-Dr Tuisem Ngakang and Dr Khole Timothy Poumai.

Dr Yanthan categorically mentioned that it is time that the Naga scholars address the issue of ethnic conflict and its challenges in Manipur.

He further stated that ethnic conflicts in Manipur have been a major concern across various sections of society in the State and the Nagas have been one of the main victims of the conflicts.

"Hence, the Naga Scholars' Association (NSA) initiated a series of academic discourse under the broad theme "Ethnic Conflicts in Manipur: Issues and Challenges", the first of which series focuses on 'Naga-Kuki Conflict' to get a deeper insight into the conflict and to provide rationale to address the challenges in the contemporary context," according to a press release from the NSA.

Both the panelists focused on the Naga-Kuki conflict, particularly on the genesis of the conflict nature of the conflict, and the major incidents, the NSA said.

It added that they traced the genesis of the conflict to the 19th century when the Kukis migrated to the Naga areas (of present Manipur State) from Myanmar (erstwhile Burma) and subsequent British deployment of the immigrant Kukis to help check the unrest of the Nagas against the British^ interference.

"In the process of helping the British to subdue the Naga unrest, the Kukis also took undue advantage of acquiring land for themselves in Naga areas," the NSA stated, adding, "However, they were met with stiff opposition from the Naga villages, although some Kukis could avail some land for settlement by paying royalty to the Naga villages concerned.

In all such Kuki villages, the names of the new Kuki villages were prefixed by the names of the Naga villages concerned".

Dr Timothy stated that, with the swelling of the Kuki immigrants, the Kukis began to populate some pockets of Naga areas where they became dominant.

In the latter half of the 19th century, many raids were organized by the Kukis in the Naga villages.

"Many Naga villagers were killed and even many villages razed.The most heinous inhuman acts perpetrated by the Kukis on the innocent Nagas were the killing of over 600 villagers of Chingjaroi ('Swemi') in 1892 and the 'Haokip War' ('Tingtong rih') wherein the Kukis killed over 1000 Rongmei Nagas in 1917 during the 'Anglo-Kuki War' (1917-1919) .

Inspite of the conflict, the Kukis continued to pay royalty to the Naga villages and were living at peace with the Nagas," he added.

The discourse also gave an insight as to how the Naga-Kuki relationship took a very different turn in the 1990s when the conflict caused a huge casualty to both the Nagas and the Kukis with hundreds of people dead, hundreds of houses burnt and massive displacement of villagers.

Dr Tuisem stressed that it is more important to focus toward building stronger relationship rather thanconsidering the other as a threat.

"This is for the fact that Nagas and Kukis will always live as neighbours", he said.

He opined that both communities can offer many good things to one another.

He felt that the scholars have a crucial responsibility towards rebuilding trust for a better future of the Nagas and Kukis.

Prof Yaruingam Awungshi, the chair of the panel discussion, concluded by submitting that the Nagas and Kukis should learn to live as good neighbours by reflecting on the South African experience where truth and reconciliation went hand in hand.

The panel discussion ended with a vote of thanks by Dr Lungthuiyang Riamei.

The rapporteurs were Lung Nuthan and Dr Aton Mungleng.


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