Targeting of Nagas, Meiteis, Paites, Tamils at Moreh spelt out in petition
Excesses of Kuki militants since 90s laid before MHRC
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, September 11 2023: Even as the present crisis is nowhere near its end, a long sheet/history of gross human rights violations, extortion, and targeted killing of people belonging to certain communities by the armed Kuki militants since early 1990s has surfaced in the Court of Manipur Human Rights Commission.

This long sheet of "communal violence borne as a result of armed Kuki militants' atrocities" surfaced when two law students filed a petition with the Manipur Human Rights Commission, which took up the case on September 4 .

A division bench of the MHRC comprising Chairperson Justice UB Saha and Member KK Singh heard the petition, and it has directed the Superintendent of Police of Tengnoupal district to submit a status report pertaining to a 2007 case registered with Moreh police station.

Copies of the pages of the petition, available with The Sangai Express, detail years, dates and atrocities perpetrated by the armed Kuki militants such as the KRA, short for Kuki Revolutionary Army, that fuelled communal violence/clashes in Manipur's Moreh, neighbouring Myanmar.

The law students, in their complaint to the MHRC, stated that the present communal clash in Manipur that started on May 3 is not the first, and many such clashes have occurred in Manipur, specially in Moreh where armed Kuki militants have a large presence.

The petitioners stressed that several communal clashes have taken place in Manipur, all involving Kukis as one of the parties.

Communal clashes have occurred between Kukis and Nagas, Kukis and Tamils, Kukis and Paites, and Kukis and Meiteis several times since the early 1990s, said the petitioners.

In 1992, the petition said the Kuki National Army (KNA) served a quit notice to the Nagas to leave Moreh which resulted in a communal clash between the Kukis and the Nagas.

The petition said amid the heightened tension at the time, one Tangkhul civilian named Khayao, who was married to a Meitei woman, was killed by the KNA at Moreh town, and this led to the spread of the communal violence to other districts.

Many Naga villagers who fled Moreh to save their lives could not return to their respective villages and all the abandoned Naga villages were taken over by the Kukis, said the petition.

Giving another account, the petitioners highlighted that on June 6, 1995, a Tamil man who worked in the 'Money Exchange Market' was killed after being abducted by Kuki militants for ransom.

Thirteen persons including seven Tamil civilians and two Meitei civilians were killed and 25 others sustained injuries during the communal violence.

The communal tension forced many Tamils to flee to Myanmar.

On November 4, 1997, three Paite persons were killed by Kuki miscreants at Moreh, which was then under Chandel district.

With their lives threatened, around 116 Paite persons fled to Myanmar, said the petition stressing that the Meitei community at the time facilitated the safe return of the Paites to Manipur (India) .

The Paites were evacuated to Churachandpur with the help of the local police.

The land belonging to the Paite community including the biggest pharmacy at the time located at Moreh town were taken over by the Kukis.

The petition continued that on June 3, 2007, Yumnam Roshan Meitei--a 22-year-old resident of Moreh Ward No 7 was shot dead by armed Kuki militants near the Community Variety Market at Moreh.

Communal violence erupted and altogether 12 persons including 5 Meitei men from Khurai area namely Soibam Itomcha, Likmabam Bungcha, Likmabam Bungo, Oinam Nilamani and Yanglem Pikpa Singh were killed.

In the communal tension of 2007, 528 residents of Moreh including 71 Tamils fled to Myanmar due to fear of getting killed.

The petition noted that in connection with the violence, a case was registered with Moreh police station under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Arms Act.

Moreover, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the leaders of the Meitei community and the Government of Manipur.

Significantly, the copy of the petition available with The Sangai Express revealed that the points under the MoU coincidentally include a popular demand that resonates even today during the present crisis, i.e.the removal/shifting of the Assam Rifles.

The points under MoU are as follows: 1) consider shifting of the 24 Assam Rifles from Moreh after consultation with the Chief Minister; .

(2) Deployment of State security forces at Moreh town; and.

(3) Entrusting the responsibility of investigation into the circumstances leading to the incident and other previous similar cases with the civil police.

The petitioners further informed that in July 2010, Kuki militants allegedly attempted to abduct the leaders of Meetei Council Moreh (MCM) .

On July 16, 2010, a meeting was held at the Moreh Trade Centre among the representatives of MCM, then Deputy Commissioner H Dilip, then Superintendent of Police K Radheshyam, CO of 31 Assam Rifles Ravroop.

The meeting resolved that (i) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in Moreh would report every criminal incident that occurred in and around Moreh to the law and order enforcing authority of the district; (ii) to ensure initiation of action by the law and order enforcing authorities to any crime reported in public interest and deal the same as per law of the land; and (iii) to call off indefinite bandh imposed by the MCM and other civil society organizations.

The petitioners continued that on August 18, 2015, Kuki miscreants allegedly started pelting stones at the Meitei people who were taking out a rally at Moreh in support of the demand for implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) System in Manipur.

Goods and properties belonging to the Meitei community worth over Rs 1 crore were damaged and more than 100 vehicles were vandalised.

Indefinite curfew was clamped and subsequently, the Manipur Government compensated Rs 2.3 crore to repair damaged properties and for resettlement.

The petitioners contended that in all the cases, the victims were killed by the Kuki militants in cold blood, and not a single statement of any of the individual(s) who witnessed either the abduction or the killing has been recorded.

The suffering of the families who lost their children at the hands of the Kuki militants remain severe and no justice has been delivered to them till date.

Even though FIRs have been registered at the police station, no proper investigation has been done, and not a single criminal prosecution has begun despite, said the petitioners.

All these unpursued cases have resulted in exoneration, and over the years, a feeling of absolute immunity has developed in the minds of the perpetrators.

The series of unchecked violence over the decades have also reinforced a belief among the Kuki miscreants that they can kill, torture and burn down houses of members of Meitei community or any other communities and get away with it, claimed the petitioners.

"The Kuki miscreants or perpetrators, who were involved in such heinous crimes, are still at large, have no fear of any prosecution or deterrence of law, and therefore, they are persistently indulging in communal violence without any hesitation till today," said the petitioners, asking the Manipur Human Rights Commission for appropriate actions on the numbers of cases they put before it.

After hearing the counsel of the petitioners, the Commission asked the Commissioner (Home), Government of Manipur to direct the Superintendent of Police of Tengnoupal to submit a status report pertaining to the investigation into the 2007 Moreh case, and listed the matter for further hearing on October 3 .

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