TODAY -

Acknowledging the stand of UNC : Noting indigeneity
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: July 08, 2024 -



The United Naga Council (UNC) has a point and New Delhi should take note of it.

And the acknowledgment should stem from the fact that the areas which the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), Committee on Tribal Unity (CoTU), Kuki Inpi, Manipur (KIM) and the ten Kuki-Zo MLAs have claimed should come in the map of the Separate Administration cannot have a legal standing.

It should not be forgotten that the call for a Separate Administration has come amid the growing demand that a National Register of Citizens be exercised here, the latest being the joint memorandum submitted by the UNC and the Co-ordination Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) to the Governor not so long back.

What is significant here is not just the submission of the memorandum but the response of the Governor wherein she has been quoted as stating that ‘necessary steps will be taken to ensure implementation of the NRC in the State...the issue has been discussed with President Droupadi Murmu, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Home Minister Amit Shah.’

This is coming from the Raj Bhavan and nothing can be more significant than this at this point of time and this is where one would need to look at the Separate Administration demand as well as the stand of the UNC with the statement issued by the Raj Bhavan just some days back.

‘The undivided Senapati district, Ukhrul district, Chandel district, Tamenglong district and Churachandpur district that include areas of the so called newly created districts of Kamjong, Kangpokpi, Tengnoupal and Noney’ are lands that do not belong to the Kukis, is the stand of the UNC and this implicitly implies that the Kukis have no land in Manipur which they can claim as their ancestral land.

In other words they are not indigenous to the land, is the assertion of the UNC.

The Kuki bodies will obviously contest this stand, but it is significant to note that the UNC has made its stand clear and simple and come to think about it, this is not a recent development.

From the day the new districts were created in the winter of 2016, the UNC had been steadfast against the move of the State Government, particularly with the creation of Kangpokpi district.

All in Manipur will understand the staunch opposition of the Naga folks, under the aegis of the UNC, against any proposal to create Kangpokpi, a demand which was previously raised as Sadar Hills district with even a body christened Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee spearheading the demand.

Back then the Meiteis did not fully realise the import of something called infiltrators of illegal immigrants but now that the realisation has dawned on the two groups of people indigenous to the land, perhaps it is time to give more substance and meaning to the understanding of people who are indigenous to the land here.

And it stands that the UNC has reasons to be apprehensive.

Even as it made its stand clear in the memorandum submitted to the office of the Prime Minister, refugees from across the border continue to be a source of concern and worry.

It was on July 4 that the Wung Tangkhul Region of the NSCN (IM) asserted that two Kuki villages, Kachouphung Kuki village and Gampal Kuki village fall under the ancestral land of the Tangkhuls and hence should obtain ‘legal permit’ to continue staying at the said two villages.

This is where it becomes important for Manipur as a whole to acknowledge that it is the Tangkhuls and the other Naga tribes which are first and directly impacted by the gradual entry of people from across the border and in due course of time claim ancestral rights over the land they occupy.

The claim on Mount Thangjing and the furore over Mount Koubru should be seen and understood against the decree issued by the WTR of NSCN (IM).

The stand of the UNC should also be seen and appreciated against the fact that it was as recently as 2021 that it had opposed the proposal to bury a Kuki scholar, who had passed away due to Covid, at Kangpokpi on the ground that the deceased was born at Myanmar, a Myanmarese by birth.

This is a fact that was not disputed but which was reasoned with the line that the deceased grew up in Manipur.

Citing an example of how infiltrators from across the border can lay claim to be naturalised citizens of the land and it is against this fact that the UNC had raised their stand to the Prime Minister.



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