TODAY -

Rumours and bloody September: Two episodes
- Part 1 -

Aheibam Koireng Singh *



Rumours are associated with collective behaviour and are compared to a spark and the people who hear it with either cement or dry grass. It may or may not catch fire. In a tense atmosphere, the frenzied crowd becomes so manipulable that it tends to accept every charge cast as its real or supposed enemies.

Here, I deal with two episodes, one in the year 1993 and the other in 2015 where in both the instances, rumour is purposively used to instigate the crowd sentiment to spark the blood-bath by creating an atmosphere of distrust, hostility, apathy and prejudice.

The first one occurred in 13 September 1993 in the early years of Kuki-Naga clash. Already since the beginning of 1993, as many as 242 Kukis have been killed and over 242 houses belonging to Kukis have also been burned down. The villagers of Joupi Kuki village at Tamei Subdivision of Tamenglong District were already living with acute fear as the United Naga Council (UNC) had served Quit Notice to the Kukis as early as 2nd September 1992.

They received quit notice in advance from the Nagalim Guard (NLG) and Naga Students Volunteer Organisation (NSVO) intimidating them to vacate their land on or before 15 September 1993. Two days before the expiry of the dateline, they left their houses and took shelter in the field. On 13 September 1993 at about 8 a.m., they came under attack while they were in the process of displacement.

The attackers, including women, were both civilians and Naga ethnic armies with sophisticated weapons. In it, 80 persons including a woman were killed. 15 of them, all male, were fatally injured, out of which seven later succumbed to their injuries. Two days before it, Saramjao, a Liangmai Naga village also known as Makui-II, came under attack on 11 September 1993 at about 6 a. m.

An exchange of fire took place between the Kuki ethnic armies and the security personnel guarding the village. And in Tamei, people were inflamed by rumours that from dawn to dusk, Saramjao came under heavy attack from the Kuki ethnic armies and many villagers including women and children were killed and their properties burnt down. Tamei Sub-Division has the highest concentration of the Liangmais population. The miscreants must have spread this very rumour in the Tamei area so that the civilian population by either believing or half-believing the rumour will either collaborate with them or show no disapproval in the genocide.

In addition to it, on the same day there was a pre dawn attack at Gelnel Kuki Village near T. Waichong of Senapati District. The villagers received Quit Notice in advance. As defensive measures, the village elders and youths performed vigils round the clock using single barrel and 'Pumpi' (country made canon). The village came under attack at about 4 am and the exchange of fire continued up to 8 am. Three of the attackers including a female also got killed.

The villagers were compelled to flee as the attackers outclassed them both in terms of numerical strength and superiority of weapons. In the said attack, there were 17 death and seven injured casualties among the villagers. 80 out of hundred houses were completely burned down. Valuable items like money and livestock were taken away. Church and school were also burned down.

As maximum number of death casualties occurred on this day of 13th September 1993, the Kuki communities chose to observe onwards from succeeding years the day as the 'Black Day' in remembrance of those killed, injured and displaced in the Kuki-Naga clash. The apex body of the Kuki, Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) had consistently been maintaining that the Kuki people will not accept the outcome of the talks between the Government of India and the NSCN-IM before the issue of the 'killing of 905 innocent Kukis, uprooting of 360 villages and displacement of more than One Lakh Kukis by the NSCN-IM is settled.

In the later part of the Kuki-Naga clash, concerted efforts were made by the Naga cohorts to buy peace with the Non-Thadou Kukis, viz., Hmar, Paite, Vaiphei, Simte and Tedim Chin when civilians belonging to these communities fell prey to the bullets of the Naga ethnic armies. In such cases the Nagas represented by UNC, Manipur successfully arrived at an amicable solution with the respective apex organisations of the ethnic groups concerned to which the victims belonged, by paying adequate compensation to the victim's family.

On the other hand, in case of their conflict with the Thadou-Kukis, the Nagas represented by UNC or otherwise show no such urgency of sorting out their conflict. Later, in the year 1997-1998, Churachandpur (CCPur) District witnesses the Thadou-Paite conflict in which both the warring groups belonged to the same kindred tribe of Chin-Kuki-Mizo/Zomi (CHIKIMZ) community.

In it, the main protagonist was the armed group, Kuki National Front-President (KNF-P) and the Zomi Reuification Organisation ( ZRO) and its armed wing Zomi Revolutionary Army ( ZRA) allegedly trained and armed by the NSCN-IM. As regards the occurrences of the said clash is concerned, there have also been opinions that it occurred partly because the NSCN-IM tried to set their foot in CCPur District in proxy via ZRO/ZRA.

The clash resulted to dethroning of Rishang Keishing from the Chief Ministership of Manipur as his impartiality in dealing with the clashes is being questioned by some tribal MLAs. With it, Shri W. Nipamacha became Chief Minister on 16 December 1997, and the effort of his new MSCP led Government to resolve the conflict led to fruition as the final peace accord between the two warring kindred tribes was signed on 01 October 1998 with Thadou Kukis represented by the Kuki Inpi Churachandpur (KIC) and the Paite Zomis represented by the Zomi Council.

To be continued...


* Aheibam Koireng Singh wrote this article for Imphal Times
The writer is Asst. Professor at Centre for Manipur Studies in Manipur University
This article was webcasted on September 13, 2016.



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