TODAY -

A chink in the Kuki-Chin legislators' armour
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: March 02, 2024 -



THE 10 Kuki-Chin legislators, who are raising the demand for separate administration for Kuki-Chin people living in Manipur, have understandably rejected the resolution adopted by the Manipur Legislative Assembly to urge the government of India abrogate the tripartite Suspension of Operation (SoO) agreement signed with as many as 25 armed Kuki-Chin groups, which are grouped under two umbrella bodies, namely, United People's Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organisation (KNO).

In a joint press statement, the 10 Kuki-Chin legislators condemned what they described as the "one-sided resolution" of "attributing responsibility to the SoO groups for the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur" and categorically stated that the resolution adopted by the Assembly emanated from "prejudice, biasand hatred for our community that reflects a myopic view on the issue".

Questioning whether the resolution was based on any report or observation of the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) comprising central agencies, state government agencies and representatives of KNO and UPF, which is the only official mechanism to determine whether any violation of the ground rules has taken place or not, the joint statement asserted that "this is not the case as the resolution is based on an overwhelming sense of animosity and hatred for a particular community."

Trying to prove their point, the 10 Kuki-Chin legislators also recalled how the tripartite agreement was lauded as "the harbinger of peace and security in the state when it was signed and Manipur, particularly the hill districts, witnessed a sea change in the security scenario as the level of violence came down drastically in the years that followed", and how "successive governments took their share of credit over improvement in the law and order situation in the state owing to the signing of the agreement," which, we dare say, is something hard to argue against or discredit.

However, the contention of 10 Kuki-Chin legislators has fallen flat and a chink appears in their well-guarded armour, when they insisted that the "august House resolution would have evinced fairness and peace objective" if the role played by a faction of UNLF, with whom the government of Manipur had signed a peace accord recently, in the current violence, which they claimed "is widely known to one and all," too had been highlighted.

With this insistence, the Kuki-Chin legislators seem to have lost track of the argument they had been building up against "attributing responsibility to the SoO groups for the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur" with cleverly chosen words to insinuate that the resolution adopted by the state assembly was "emanated from prejudice, bias and hatred for our community," "based on an overwhelming sense of animosity and hatred for a particular community," or "to defame the KNO and the UPF and further alienate the Kuki-Zomi-Hmar community as part of the continuing hate campaign," etc.

It would have been appreciable on the part of Kuki-Chin legislators to remember that the demand for abrogation of the SoO pact with armed Kuki-Chin militant groups, some which are notorious, for violating the agreed ground rules, went back to the pre-May 3,2023 violence.

In fact, it was with their full knowledge that the government of Manipur, of which they are still part of it despite expressing lack of confidence, had on March 10, 2023 announced the Cabinet's decision of withdrawal from the SoO agreement with two groups, namely, Kuki National Army (KNA) and Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), which are respectively leading the KNO and UPF conglomerates after it was established that many of the Kuki-Chin armed groups are indulging in illegal activities like extortion, drug trafficking, poppy cultivation, gun-running, etc., with virtual impunity guaranteed under the SoO pact, not to speak of the doubtful nationality of the leaders of some of the armed groups.

From a mere issue of law and order in the state, the demand for abrogating the SoO pact has today assumed importance for countering threat to national security of the country. So, such "myopic view on the issue," to use their own words, is not going to help the belligerent Kuki-Chin legislators in advancing the cause of their supposed persecuted "Kuki-Zomi-Hmar community by a Meitei/Meetei majoritarian government" in any way, other than, perhaps, saving themselves to fall from grace in the eyes of their own people on whom they thrust upon to fight a battle for a lost cause.



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