Zalengam : WMC sets record straight
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, July 30 2023: Armed groups who kill fellow men to achieve "Zalengam" don't deserve respect, honour and reward.

They should be contained, disarmed and brought to justice instead, said World Meetei Council (WMC) as the Government of India began fresh talks with SoO militants, United People's Front (UPF) and Kuki National Army (KNO) .

The World Meetei Council's statement was against media reports that alleged that the Centre has "accepted" the removal of the clause for safeguarding the integrity of Manipur in the Suspension of Operation (SoO) Agreement.

Notably, the formal dialogue between the Kuki militant groups and the Government of India held recently was chaired by AK Mishra, Special Advisor MHA with delegates of UPF and KNO led by Aaron Kipgen and Dr Seilen Haokip respectively.

An India TodayNE report claimed that during the dialogue, UPF convenor Aaron Kipgen demanded the Centre to withdraw the clause for safeguarding Manipur's integrity from the SoO agreement asserting that the groups would not be able to represent their people if it wasn't withdrawn.

The report claimed that the Centre "considered" the demand paving way for the dialogue to start.

During the talk, India TodayNE said the UPF and the KNO put up the demand for creating a Union Territory with legislative powers under the Constitution of India.

Meanwhile, reacting strongly to this report, the World Meetei Council (WMC) set the record straight and laid down several points for Centre's attention and action to abrogate SoO.

Whatever may be the position of the Government of India, WMC said, when Manipur Assembly passed the Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015, no one in Manipur except the Chin-Kuki protested.

They (Chin-Kuki) violently attacked Churachandpur police station leading to police firing that killed nine persons.

They protested violently against the Protection of Manipur People Bill 2015 all because it had 1951 as the base year for identification of illegal immigrants.

About 70 percent of the present Chin-Kuki population are "immigrants" and the "descendants" of those who immigrated after 1951 from Myanmar.

They feared losing their citizenship, said the World Meetei Council.

In another incident, on August 18, 2015, Kukis attacked and vandalised almost all Meetei shops in the border town of Moreh where they are the majority community.

They bullied the Meetei people for demanding implementation of the Inner Line Permit System, which could check illegal immigration from Myanmar into India.

The Meetei then didn't retaliate, said WMC.

It continued that on April 27, 2023, Chin-Kuki set on fire an open Gym facility at Churachandpur giving vent to their anger against Government's actions against drugs, poppy plantation, encroachment on Reserved Forest land etc.

The open gym was set to be inaugurated the next day by Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

A Guwahati based media had shown live the violent incident, sort of promoting the "revolt" against the State, claimed WMC.

On May 3, 2023, on the pretext of protesting against Meetei's Scheduled Tribe status demand and taking advantage of the Meetei's non-violent culture of Vaishnavism, the Chin-Kuki, without any provo- cation from Meetei, came and attacked nearby Meetei villages with AK Rifles, looted and torched Meetei houses for 2-3 hours without any intervention from the Assam Rifles or the Manipur police, said the World Meetei Council.

The ferocity of the Chin-Kuki shocked and deeply hurt the Meeteis, who ultimately had to defend themselves, it said.

In one night, all Meetei houses in Churachandpur were destroyed displacing more than 9000 Meeteis.

Many Meetei women fell "prey" to the "ferocious Chin-Kukis" as Assam Rifles could not do anything because of the SoO Agreement.

This was how Manipur violence began, said WMC.

It asserted that the Kukis aim to carve out homeland 'ZALENGAM' from Manipur which was conceptualized in the 1980s according to 'documents' .

Zalengam is a well-planned action calendar, said WMC quoting one of the Kuki leaders as saying, "Even if not May 3, we would have a war with the Meetei, only looking for a trigger point" .

The World Meetei Council claimed that they (Kuki) never speak for peace but only for Zalengam/separate administration.

They provoked the Meetei by firing at them at their convenience under the protection of the SoO, which gives them "immunity" from the Indian Army/Assam Rifles, it said.

The Meeteis are at the receiving end.

About 6000 (Meetei) people from Moreh and more than 3000 at peripheral areas (of valley districts) within the striking range of Chin-Kuki's sniper rifles and 2- inch mortars have been displaced.

Moreh and all periphery areas within the striking range of Kukis have become no man's land, said WMC.

It may be noted here that the actual number of people affected/displaced may be higher than the number given here by the WMC.

While the conflict has affected Kuki people, the number of affected Kukis in the valley couldn't be more than 13,000 while the number of affected Meeteis from Churachandpur, Tengnoupal, Chandel and Kangpokpi districts couldn't be less than 18,000, said WMC.

While the number of casualties on both sides is not known, one Chin-Kuki leader put it at 250 which include 200+ at Khamenlok for Meetei and the Chin-Kuki's casualty are less, said WMC.

"Fact is Chin-Kuki's aim is to keep trouble brewing to mount maximum pressure on the Government of India.

Question is-how could in a democratic country, a group of people who kill fellow men to achieve their ZALENGAM be given respect and honour and be rewarded? Instead, they should be contained, disarmed and brought to justice," said WMC urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to abrogate the SoO Agreement with the Chin-Kuki militants.

Abrogating the SoO Agreement can bring normalcy, it added.

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