TODAY -

Manipur at a Glance - An Ethnic Dilemma
- Part 1 -

Khulakfam Altab Ali *

 Manipur at a Glance - An Ethnics Dilemm



*** Please scroll down to download the entire Article in PDF - 1.4 MB )

ABSTRACT

By Ethnic conflicts we mean those domestic, inter-state or transnational political conflicts in which the actors involved focus on issues relating to Ethnicity. Ethnic conflicts are the main forms of political instability in the multi ethnic societies like Manipur during second half of twenty century and beginning of new century.

The goal of this study determinates social context of ethnic conflict in multi ethnic societies with the rise of nationalism based organisation. Balancing ethno cultural diversity and dignity with national integration and cohesion has been a constant challenge for the state policy-maker. Also, This study is to predict the future direction of Ethnic policy in the political system as opaque as the state fight with difficulties.

MANIPUR

Manipur, a sovereign Kingdom came under British rule as a princely state in 1891 and existed until 1947 as an Independent Princely Country. However, in 1949, Maharaja Bodhchandra was summoned to Shillong, the capital of the then Indian province of Assam, and on 21 September 1949 signed a Treaty of Accession under which Manipur was to be formally merged to India on October 15, 1949.

Under terms of this agreement, the government of India announced the formal annexation of Manipur on 15 October 1949. Manipur was a union territory from 1956, becoming a full-fledged state in 1972.

The state Assembly and the council of Minister which elected by the people of Manipur under the provisions of Manipur Constitution Act 1947 by practicing the Universal Adult Franchise were forcibly abolished on the same day by an executive order of the Indian government.

It consist of 9 districts viz. Bishnupur, Churachandpur, Chandel, Imphal East, Imphal West, Senapati, Tamenglong, Thoubal and Ukhrul. And later on divided into 16 districts on 8th December, 2016 which 7 new districts are Tengnoupal, bifurcated from Channel district, Kamjong from Ukhrul, Pherzawl from Churachandpur, Kangpokpi from Senapati, Kakching from Thoubal, Noney from Tamenglong and Jiribam from Imphal East districts.(3) The creation of the new district comes after a long struggle and at the cost of 7 lives lost during the agitation for the same.

ETHNICS GROUP

Manipur is a state inhabited by several ethnic groups, which have their unique culture & tradition. Some of the major communities are Meitei, Pangal, Naga and Kuki in which Naga and Kuki belongs to Schedule Tribe whereas Meitei and Pangal live in Valley in which these two ethnics groups are classified as Majority & Minority based on demography and social status.

It can be mention that some of the Meitei belongs to schedule caste and majority population of the Meitei schedule caste constitutes at Kakching, Pheiyeng, Sekmai, Andro. Some Ethnic group of Naga community are Tangkhul, Kabui, Kacha Naga while Thadou, Paite, Hmar, Vaiphei, Maring, Anal, Zou, Lushai, Kom, Simte and belongs to Kuki Family. However, the Maring and Anal tribes have been assimilated into the Naga fold.

Manipur is a collage of a diverse ethnic and multicultural society. Based on the 2001 Census, Meiteis and Manipuri Muslims account for approximately 14.1 lakh population (58.9 percent), whereas 9.8 lakh population (41.1 percent) belongs to different tribes such as the Naga, Kuki.

Some fault lines to ignite tense among the Ethnic groups are :

1. Historical Prejudices
2. Autonomy or Local Self-Governance
3. Non-Inclusive Development
4. Biased Political Structure
5. Property Rights
6. Individual Interests and Personal Ambitions of Leaders
7. Insurgent Groups on Ethnic Lines.
8. Socio Political Organizations in Manipur.
9. Extortion or Illegal Taxation
10. Areas of Convergence
11. Origin
12. Linguistic Affinity
13. Socio-economic and Cultural Relations

Among the various factor, the rise of Nationalism on Ethnic lines is the main factor that work for their own, to gain the power of Administration with the help of Politico of their own, which result to the Biased Political structure. Once it gain the political power, then there's somehow fallen the image of biasness on individual interest that other ethnic groups are suffer with hue and cry.

RISE OF NAGA & KUKI NATIONALISM AND ITS DYNAMIC CONFLITS

The growth of nationalism among the Nagas of Manipur can be traced back to the first half of 20th century. Jadonang and Gaidinliu rose in revolt against the British in 1930, which may be termed as revivalist movement of the Zeliangrongs. The movement took a semi-military, semi-religious and semi-political character. In the second half of the 20th century, Naga dream and demand for "Unified Nagalim".

The demand for unification was brought into the sharp focus following the establishment, and ascendance to hegemony, of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) to engage the Government of India through peace overtures and effecting the merger of Naga inhabited hills of Manipur.

The main goal of the organisation is to establish a sovereign Naga state, "Nagalim" which would consist of of Nagaland and "all contiguous Naga-inhabited areas" of Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and, across the international border, Myanmar.

On 30 April 1988, the NSCN split into two factions; the NSCN-K led by Khaplang, and the NSCN-IM, led by Isak Chishi Swu and Thuingaleng Muivah. The split was accompanied by a spate of violence and clashes between the factions.

Kuki Nationalism Nationalism can be describe as a desire for political independence; the desire to achieve political independence or a separate entity. With the British raj coming to an end, the Kukis formed the Kuki National Assembly (KNA), in October, 1946.

The failure of the state to protect the Kukis from the onslaught of the Nagas, especially NSCN (I-M), during the conflict, gave birth to Kuki Liberation Army (KLA), Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA), Zomi Revolutionary Organization (ZRO) and United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF).

The failure of the KNA* and KNF to stand up to the expectation, to protect the interests of the community and to resist the onslaught of the NSCN (I-M) has sent strong signals to every Kuki sub-tribe to look for a self-defence mechanism.

There was a formal cessation of hostilities between Nagas and Kukis in 1997. But these two communities escalated into violence during the 1990s, more precisely 1992-1997 which resulting in the lost of 100s lives on both side. On September 13, 1993, Naga militants allegedly belonging to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak Muivah) massacred around 115 Kuki civilians in the hills of Manipur.

The Kukis refer to the killings as the Joupi massacre after the village which saw the highest number of casualties. Ever since, the community has been assembling every September to remember their dead.

The congregation this year was bigger than usual, and was marked by the erection of three monoliths inscribed with the names of 1,157 people who had allegedly been killed by Naga mercenaries during the '90s. "25th anniversary of the Kuki genocide by Tangkhul-led NSCN (IM)," read the plaque on the monoliths.

There are different opinions about the root cause of the tense between these two ethnic group. The physical violence formally ended in 1997.

The government of India is sitting around a table and doing peace talks with the Nagas. But there is an assurance from Kuki as "But the Centre should know that until the Kukis get justice, the Naga issue cannot be solved. They have to do justice according to the law of the land."

The Kukis' bitterness with the Indian state is allpervasive. The ignorance of the Kuki by Indian Government ignite to Kuki youth to fuel Kuki Nationalism more over the past as well as the demand of Kuki Homeland too. The demand for Kukiland (land for the Kukis) is a direct challenge to the demand for Greater or southern Nagaland by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN IM).

RISE OF MEITEI NATIONALISM

At the far end of the monarchy in Manipur, the kings lost much of their authority and independence to the British. In spite of losing their authority to the British, the Kings continued to oppress the commoners by levying prohibitive taxes on the commoners for all socio-economic activities thus inciting political consolidation of the Meities against the Monarchy.

The political awakening among the Meiteis began against the monarchy. In the post-independence context, the revolutionary movements in Manipur are an outcome of several deep rooted factors, namely, perceived forced merger of princely state by India, the threat posed by the Naga movement, poor governance, neglect from central government and the crisis of identity which are the motivating factor in the revival of Meitei nationalism.

These several deep rooted factors pave the way to the emergence of Meitei revolutionary groups in Manipur.

Some of the active revolutionary groups are; United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA), Peoples' Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) and Kanglei Yawol Kanba Lup (KYKL) among which UNLF was the first resistance group which was founded on 24 November, 1964, which stated as its aim not only an independent, socialist republic in Manipur but also that it had a 'historic mission' to liberate Manipur 'from colonial occupation in the larger context of liberating the entire Indo-Burma region, for a common future'.



To be continued...


* Khulakfam Altab Ali wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can reached at altab(DOT)mailbox(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on June 05 2019.



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