E-Pao! Opinion :: KIM must tackle Kuki insurgency problems socially

KIM must tackle Kuki insurgency problems socially

Thangboi Haokip *

It is high time that the Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) initiate concerted efforts towards solving insurgency problems among the Kukis socially when faced with various problems- unemployment, economic poverty of a high magnitude, acute identity crisis resulting from the disintegrated nomenclature and law and order problems arising out of insecurity of life and property.

It is not the Kukis alone that encounter such unpredictable future. Yet the type of issues confronting them surpasses other issues being confronted by other communities of NE India - say - Bodos, Nagas, Meitei, Mizos and others.

The so called Kukis, which once occupied an envious place in NE India during the British period because of their rich social and cultural heritage which enable them to confront the mighty British Empire for 2 years (1917 - 1919 ) - encountered a threat to their identity - when the Scheduled Tribe modification Act, 1956 was enacted by Government of India.

The Kuki polity has been characterised by good governance by the chief and his cabinet members from time immemorial. Within specific geographic boundaries demarcated by the British, the Chiefs administered the villagers - maintaining food security by means of allotting them lands to all families based on family strength.

Social usages, conventions and cultural systems were such that each village used to live a dignified social system. Orphans, Widows and unfortunates and the sojourners who take shelter were taken care of in a dignified manner as guaranteed by the social convention system enshrined the rich Kuki Cultural system. Hence, the unwritten code of conduct or constitution was such a beautiful foundation that shelters all - rich and poor alike.

Such acts of governing a village rest with the village chief and his cabinet team. The system is said to have elicited appreciation of the then British administration. The fact that the Kukis rose in one mind to fight the British Empire for 2 full years because of forced labour imposed on them by the later is simply a testimony to that connotation.

Because of certain factors like - occupying a specific portion of land in their neighbourhood - their brethrens - like the Meities, Nagas, Mizos, Khasis and Bodos all have the blessings of the Government of India in the form of autonomous administrative structures. Unlike others the Kukis scattered in various pockets of NE India. In Tripura they are still snoring.

In Assam the much hyped Regional Kuki Council could not fetch them any tangible result on the ground that the population was less than 50,000 inspite of the administrative protection they so deserve given the ethnic carnage unleashed on them from time to time.

The degree of hardship the Kukis suffered in Nagaland in the backdrop of UNCís ethnic cleansing campaign of 1992-93 which led to the killing of 114/89 civilian and exit of a sizable population to other States shows the naked truth that the Kukis are indeed unprotected.

Whether any worthwhile rehabilitation programmes were under taken on behalf of the 325 villagers uprooted in Manipur and nearly 1000 souls being killed in Manipur and Nagaland by Government - State or Central is altogether another story. How the Kukis suffered harassment and exploitation under the hand of Burmaís military junta is another sordid chapter in degradation of humanity in the present generation.

Adopting a correct part by all concerned: One tribe of Israel was reduced to utter minority due to internecine war - in which some 30,000 Benzamites were killed leaving a survival of just 700 souls. The other 10 tribes who committed the affliction repented and took up strategic plans to rebuild the weakened Benzamites.

Conflict is a must in human society. No civilization can put to a stop this human madness. Even committed Christians can sometimes commit great blunders. Because all are sinners by birth. The weakened Benzamites condition sent a shockwave to their surroundings. In one heart their restoration was sought by all concerned.

On a similar vein the pitiable condition in which we find this particular community - the Kukis - deserve a special help from all concerned. Looking at their pitiable condition - their present situation demands an urgent response.

To mention some issues
(a) Ignorance of a high magnitude coupled with vast illiteracy,
(b) The desire to live in small villages with intense poverty,
(c) Inability to come together for any project that can bring mutual benefit to the community at large,
(d) Unemployment problem of a high degree owing to sudden disappearance of forest area (Thurn area).

To love instinct: It is true that man is a social animal. Yet man is superior to other animals because man cannot survive in isolation. Even a community or one nation cannot survive alone. India boast about its thriving democratic institution, being world No.1 USA surpass other nations in its military strength.

Yet both India and USA need other nations because they cannot meet all their internal demands. People living in NE India, being in one geographical region our dependence on one another is something no sensible person would like to refute. Manís interdependence has been an aged old practice.

To survive as a respectable citizens of India the need for self evaluation seems all the more important for all the mongoloid people of NE India in particular. The population of Nagaland and Manipur put together is 43,77,270 as per 2001 census and that is smaller than the population of one district name Medinipur of West Bengal - i.e. 69,19,689.

In democratic country population counts. Even the best statement to represent us 1/2 MP in no way can influence the Lok Sabha with its 550 members. .

The importance of having proper network to safeguard the interest of the minority ethnic people group is never to be forgotten. Lending of helping hand to give constitutional protection to the hitherto neglected and weakened Kukis by all community leaders who matter in policy making for NEI region - is a need of the hour.

Such positive steps, if taken up, would definitely fetch the Kuki population to a higher socio-economic level where they can afford to maintain a peaceful co-existence with their other Meiteis and Nagas brethren in the near future.

The strained relationship between the Kukis and Karbis in Karbi Anglong can also be reversed. Such positive changes in the political climate can even cast an impact in the weary minds of Kukis living in Burma, Chittagong Hill tracks- as well.

For the convenience of thinkers and planners - national, regional and at local level, I would share a few goals and action plans to pursue on priority basis.

1. To ensure that some tangible objectives/ goals are undertaken to enable KIM to pursue:
(a) Goals, objectives for further security and welfare of the Kukis with proper action plans in a timebound manner;
(b) to bring about a settlement among the Kuki UGs and to pave the way for political dialogue with State and Central Government with clear cut demands - in consultation with revolutionary agents.
(c) To lobby with all stake holder the need for supporting the same under the Constitution of India.

2. Plans and ancillary to the attainment of such welfare project to one particular group - the Kukis include:-
(a) They can live normal and peaceful co-existence with other communities as and when they feel secure economically.

All human races had the same progenitor is an irrefutable fact. The Bible traces to Adam as the progenitor of human race. With the passage of time the multiplication of human being tracing of oneís origin and relationship or family line have become an increasingly difficult task. Yet looking at the physical features an outsider find it difficult to differentiate between the Nagas, Kuki and Meities.

Besides their similar physical structures, the anatomic vocabularies of the people groups - Kuki, Naga and Meitei, seem to suggest same origin - because of having identical and same vocabulary. Such closeness of Kuki, Meitei, Naga linguistically is another proof of their having same origin not long ago.

Inspite of all these closeness each entity having been adopted and influenced by various cultural and belief systems with passage of time, constitutional protection of each group would be the best guarantee to maintain peaceful co-existence in the long run.

This is necessary because - The Kukis - who are by far weak and frail in almost all conceivable spheres of life - need constitutional protection. It could be in the form of Sixth Schedule, Territorial Council or a Regional Council. To be more precise - Sadar Hills, Chura- chandpur, Chandel and parts of Tamenglong and Ukhrul- can form the proposed Kuki Council.

Why this constitutional Protection for Self Administration is needed?

The performance of Kukis - in various fields lack behind. The Kukis are trailing far behind their two younger brethren - the Nagas and Meitei in various fields. They are not as good as their Naga brethren in organising themselves for a common cause.

They are not as good as their Meitei brethren in trade and commerce. They are numerically smaller than the other two. Yet as a people with unique customs and habits, they need space for breathing ground.

The Kukis, like a chicken that need protection against being trampled by the elephant with whom it (chicken) shared the dancing space for her to enjoy her right to dancing, also need constitutional protection in the form of separate administrative unit under the Indian Constitution.

It could be in the form of the Kuki Regional Council through special enactment of the Indian Parliament. This would only ensure stability and peaceful co-existence am-ong the three communities - Kuki, Naga and Meitei.

View in support of the above hypothesis, can briefly be summed up as follows. The Meiteis, be cause of their advancement in various fields, inspite of their apparent closeness to the Nagas and the Kukis, were categorized in the general list separately whereas the ot-her two were in the Scheduled List as Tribals.

Perhaps, their conversion to Hinduism may have contributed a lot in creating a wider chasm between valley and hill brethren. The Meitei with almost 2 million population - occupying the most fertile portion of the State, by virtue of their envious position are expected to lead the region in development race of the subcontinent.

The Nagas, they already enjoy constitutional protection in the form of one full fledged State, are under no threat. Whereas the Kukis, whether good or bad, weak or strong, being a weaken nation they need a sort of Constitutional protection under the Indian Constitution. This kind of political solution can create a conducive atmosphere for the regionís march towards peaceful co-existence and then towards progress and development.

We need to correct our perspective and concepts: Pointing fingers at others is not helpful. Lets stop blaming New Delhi for the ills inflicting our society. When people who have been sharing joyful and sad moments together for centuries are hurting each other, those who slumber in a luxurious living 2000 miles away from NE India - cannot be held responsible for the happenings in our soil/area. Recalling some incidents can prove the point.

The Mizo leadership committed a political blunder when they accepted merger of the Gangte Tribe - on insistence of GPC at the backdrop of the ethnic crisis that engulfed Chu-rachandpur sometime ago. Many Kukis sweated and even lost their precious souls in the Mizo movement, spearheaded by Late Pu Laldenga.

Instead of using the privileges they enjoy now activities initiated for further weakening of the Kuki polity will go down in the annals of political struggle of the Endangered Kukis. For Kukis, Mizo and Kuki are two different words describing the same group of people.

As guaranteed in the Constitution of India, each people group, big or small need protection to preserve their language, literature, culture etc. Imposing and exalting one language at the expense of another language and culture is one dirty act of colonization.

The Mizo leadership should read history and take time for introspection and retreat from such ill conceived steps. Some Gangte families display Mizo symbol on their doorstep only belittle the Mizo population.

If the Kuki Inpi Manipur hadnít acted on time to respond on the issue, it could be because of the multifaceted socio-economic and political problems confronted at that point of time.

The act of merger was an act of insult to the Kuki politics. Being part and parcel of the Kuki society such act of betrayal at the behest of Mizo leadership is adding of salt to the wound.

Indeed the circumstances surrounding Kuki Polity- those day- consisting of internal squabbles leading to internecine killing, uncontrolled gun culture along with extortion of money without limit, that too at an individualís will, and at gun point, total absence of a body or a person to which you can ventilate your grievances was so much unfavourable.

Indiscriminate planting of landmines to cause certain deaths to the local population and forceful occupation of their ancestral land by the valley based militants, are acts of naked aggression against their hill brethren. The Meitei society, in general would have not even conceived the type of harassment inflicted on Innocent Kukis.

Yet it happened, SPF Govt too remained silent spectator. Such trends if allowed to continue, for another decade, awakening could take place in among the Kuki militants and possible arm confrontation is inevitable in the long run. Civil casualty and breakdown of rural/tribal economy could be too much for reconstruction.

To create a better future (NEI) what role should be played by whom, when, where and how?

The thoughts of man are evil continually. Violation of oneís rights can be checked by means of one statutory law enacted and enforced on behalf of the people by village chief or the law makers, etc. The reflection on the present state of socio-political climate of the State also deserve proper analysis and response.

KIM need to ensure that it position itself secure enough to handle the fluid political condition of Manipur in consultation with elders, thinkers, ROís State and Central Government - viewing total welfare of the people of Manipur in particular by means of one constitutional protection - administrative councillor Kuki Regional Council- comprising of Churachandpur, Sadar Hills, Chandel and parts of UkhruI and Tamenglong.

This would mean formation of a committee to work on the modality, structure, boundary, Constitutional amendments and guidelines for demarcating boundaries.

People, who really wish well for the future generation need to think twice to work out one political solution with peopleís mandate by forming one Regional Council for the disperse Kukis - acceptable to Nagas, Meiteis and Kukis.

The forum - comprising of various NGOs, ROs, Political parties should submit their review report of the charter of demand from the Kuki UGs for discussion, recommendation to New Delhi by State Cabinet Committee. All these at the initiative of Central Government.

* Thangboi Haokip wrote this article for The Sangai Express . This article was webcasted on 12th December 2007.

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