The day after Sahnit-Ni, Kuki Black Day

Stephen Kuki *

 Kukis observed 25th anniversary of 'Sahnit', Kuki Black Day  at Churachandpur :: 13 September 2018 .
Kukis observed 25th anniversary of 'Sahnit', Kuki Black Day at Churachandpur on 13 September 2018 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

Numerous news items have appeared following the three-day commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of Sahnit- Ni, Kuki Black Day, from 11 to 13 September 2018. Notable among them is Sira Kharay's 'Naga-Kuki Conflict: A Case of Kuki Aggression' (, 20 Sept 2018).

Reading through Kharay's argument, one can't help but think a serious attempt is being made to overshadow the grief of the Kuki people by citing incidents of the past. Perhaps, denial of Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak & Muivah) role and 'blame to justify' forms a necessary premise for an advocate. Possible 'truth and reconciliation' between perpetrator and victim is clearly not the objective.

Neither is mudslinging, nor blame-game conducive for any process of reconciliation; and, one shall not be tempted. Women for Just Peace (God bless their endeavour), clearly intending to be non-partisan, nonetheless, seemed oblivious to the sentiments of the Kuki community.

Re the three monoliths engraved with the victims' names erected on the premises of Kuki Inpi Churachandpur, Tuibong, Churachandpur, WJP stated, 'remembering the deaths is a collective act and memory, and to mourn the loss is natural.

"However, to use the deaths to perpetuate hatred is a dishonor to the memory of the loved ones in whose names the day is commemorated (16 September, Imphal Free Press)."' Here, it appears the perpetrators sentiment, rather than the victims, is foremost. The common strain in Kharay and WJP criticisms is reference to incidents in history to neutralise the essence of Kuki Black Day, by attributing causes of the tragedy of 1992-1997 to both sides.

The basic assumption in both reproaches: there is neither perpetrator nor victim. In the face of existing, plus mounting evidence from survivors' accounts many, heretofore, unheard as there was no platform as the 25thAnniversary commemoration to express long-bottled up pain and memory nothing could be further from the truth!

A journalist of note, Yambem Laba, as a BBC correspondent, witnessed the Joupi massacre of 87 innocent unarmed Kuki village folk on 13 September 2003 in Tamenglong district. Laba submitted an objective report of NSCN (IM)'s heinous activity, e.g. male infants were picked out, hurled in the air and hacked to pieces.

However, some are of the view that the report was 'fabricated'. It is hardly likely that BBC would permit its international reputation for fairness tarnished by its correspondent's report.

It is pertinent to note that the 1000-plus innocent Kukis killed from 1992-1997 are not victims of conventional warfare; they were targets of NSCN (IM) cadres in full army fatigues backing the Naga Limguard. To this end, it is important to refresh the memory of all concerned, especially Government's, that the Report from United Naga Council, Manipur 1992-1998 admits,'The Naga underground has helped The Naga Limguard so has the Kuki been helped by their own militant group.'

However, denial persists amidst lies to deceive that the Naga Limguard, not NSCN (IM), carried out the killing of Kuki civilians! Considering UNCs report, how does one compare NSCN (IM) and Kuki militants? It is fair to put forward for purposes of sound 'judgement' that on the one hand, while Tangkhul-led NSCN (IM), as an armed organisation, was at its peak; on the other hand, Kukis, following non-inclusion in the Mizo Accord of 1986, were left unarmed and utterly vulnerable.

Not surprising that barely six years later, in 1992, the NSCN (IM), aware that MNF would not come to the aid of Kukis and risk their hard-earned peace, aggression on Kukis began forthright. The temptation on NSCN (IM) to wield the momentum of the Naga movement built up over the years by AZ Phizo against vulnerable Kukis simply proved irresistible.

The Naga Limguard, on whom NSCN (IM) apportions blame, would not have attacked Kuki villages on their own, let alone cause such heavy casualties; neither would UNC dare issue Quit Notice to Kukis! Self-evident is the hand of the perpetrator without the admission of the UNC report, not to mention journalists' coverage, and vivid accounts of victims who have survived.

The Tangkhul Naga Wungnao Long (Press Statement, 18 September 2018) rightly stressed the need for forgiveness and reconciliation. Aggressions have occurred in the past, but vengeance only perpetuates the cycle of violence. The NSCN (IM) utilised its firepower on innocents Kuki civilians; in contrast, KNO initiated a path to reconciliation by way of a MoU in June 2010.

The same MoU was proposed again in 2015, after the 'framework agreement' between Government of India and NSCN (IM). However, 'Proud Muivah', Gen Secy NSCN (IM), chose to ignore the peace overture.

Bishop Tutu headed a successful 'Truth and Reconciliation' mission in apartheid South Africa. Denial to charges of Kuki genocide cannot entail reconciliation. Confession is a prerequisite to forgiveness, consistent with the Christian spirit embodied in NSCN (IM)'s banner, 'Nagaland For Christ!' Regarding TH Muivah's obstinate disavowal of Kuki genocide, perhaps, there exists a major dilemma in reconciling the learned Maoist ideology to create an enemy (Kuki) to foster (Naga) unity and his apparent Christian faith.

Muivah has left a trail of blood leading up to his current stature in Naga politics. There is blood on his hands: not just Kuki blood, but Nagas, especially Angami and Chakesangs.

Following dissension over the Shillong Accord of 1975, he eliminated innumerable members of Naga National Council, mainly Angamis and Chakesangs before fleeing to Burma. Ninety-odd Naga youths, who were hurriedly trained at Zakhama in Nagaland to pursue him, were also summarily exterminated.

While at camp amongst Nagas of Burma, altercations with SS Khaplang led to further killing of NSCN (K) cadres, which forced him to escape to Ukhrul with just thirty men. Desperate, he engaged in false propaganda against Kukis to drum up support from the Nagas and made a huge success. The rest is history. However, in the venture to control Naga politics, vacillation between Maoism and Christianity would only prolong Muivah's Kuki nemesis.

Rev Prim Vaiphei's peace narrative at the Sahnit-Ni programme included facts of Kuki and Naga past enmity, as well as references to his Zalienrong colleagues' initiative for forgiveness as one people in Christ.

In his waning years, Rishang Keishing is said to have made his peace with Rev Dr T Lunkim, asking forgiveness for what he had done against Kukis as well as prayers and blessings. Such is the path to the soul's well being, and of healing, reconciliation and lasting peace between the two communities. God bless Kuki nation.

* Stephen Kuki wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Dy. Secretary, Information & Publicity, Kuki National Organisation (KNO) Manmasi
This article was webcasted on October 01, 2018.

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