Conspiracy, thy name is Kuki !

Mutum Prabir Kumar Singh *

My association with the Kukis started from the month of December 1987 when I was appointed as a teacher at Bethany Christian High School, Churachandpur which is now upgraded and rechristened as Bethany Christian College, Churachandpur. I was entrusted with the task of teaching the outgoing Class X students as the final examinations for the rest of the classes were already over and were on year-end vacation.

The institution was run by a very hard-working motherly-figure Kuki lady named Hathoi Buansing (maiden name Hathoi Lhungdim) for whom I have a high regard as I learnt a lot from her during the formative phases of my career.

Her husband, Dr Kamzamung Buansing, an erudite, scholarly gentleman, was the headmaster (and later the Principal) of the institution. Both were my mentors, and I continued to have very good relations with them even long after my leaving the school. I was not just a day teacher but a warden too to look after the hostel.

Literally, I worked 24 X 7 X 30 with a salary of Rupees 500/ - a month ! Thus, mingling with the Kukis, I got an ample opportunity to learn and understand not only their language thoroughly but also the intricacies of their culture as well as their ethos.

Despite the tough workschedule I had to follow daily, my life in Bethany Christian High School was largely full of sweetness and excitement. With pleasant memories, I often remember those nights when I along with my Kuki teacher friends and hostellers chanted together as we go to bed the beautiful Lord’s Prayer of the King James version of the Bible “Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will ... ... ... ”

Memory also often brings me the sweetness of those Sunday mornings when we sang together in the School Worship Hall the beautiful' song “hi chi ka-thu shim/hi chi ka-la ... ... ... " the Kuki version of the beautiful hymn “This is my story/this is my song ... ... ...”.

Although I left Churachandpur in the beginning of the nineties for Imphal, I continued to work in an institution in Imphal also run by a Kuki named John Thangjamang Touthang for another 10 or so years. Later, when I started my own institution in the beginning of the current century, due to my long association with the Kukis, hundreds of Kuki students came every year and studied in my institution.

Some of them happen to come from extremely poor families whom I helped financially or in whatever manner I could. A sizeable number of them have already become civil servants, university teachers, doctors, employees in various other departments, etc.

During my stay in Churachandpur, an incident happened one day which has got so much bearing on the present Meetei-Kuki conflict so that I can no longer keep it entombed in my bosom. Many a time, during the last one year or so of the conflict, I was almost tempted to speak out for the world to know the truth of the genesis of the conflict but I decided to remain mute until now thinking that given the fact that Kukis’ are Christians (as they consider themselves to be) and that they are also the lost tribe of Israel (as they often write in some of the National media, apparently with a motive to gamer some support from some quarters), they would certainly own up their misdeeds against the Meeteis/ the Meiteis who saved them by providing sanctuary during the days when they had trouble with the Nagas, who were there for the Kukis with helps gathered from the valley brethren - be it landslide at Chandel district, fire, or other disasters, apologize to the Meeteis, and blow the final whistle to end the present conflict.. Because the Christians, as I know, have a very high moral worth, and I anticipated the same from the Kukis too.

But nothing I anticipated has come from the Kukis so far. On the contrary, what I have been witnessing are just mind-boggling ones. Their mastery in spinning mendacious stories to show to the world that they are innocent and helpless in the present conflict is truly of classic proportion.

In the initial phase of the conflict, they fooled with ease the whole Indian Nation into believing that they are innocent victims and that their lives matter. Never ever bothering even the fact that the lifespan of lies is very short, they could also sur--prisingly fool even the United Nations, fool the American Congress, fool the CBSE, fool the Bishops of Kerala, and the list can go on pretty long.

I have also been observing the rare proficiency of the Kukis in distorting the historical facts to their advantage that certainly needs a special mention here. With ease, they can erase the chapters in the history books, and re-write them newly. To them renaming places of Manipur is just like a child’s play. Mount Thangjing is Mount Olivet What a crafty choice of the word olive to enable them to wear the public facade of peacefulness and understanding !

There is even one gentleman from Kuki-Zo community serving as a Professor at one of the universities in Delhi who could outfox the most gifted scientists by travelling back in time, re-writing a totally new history of Manipur, and then coming back to the present time. He may be rightly called the Father of Ultra-modem history.

I also find that the talent of the Kukis in depicting themselves to the world as the victims of the Meetei cruelty and highhandedness is something that deserves all the Oscars. When they stayed in Imphal, no Meetei had ever disturbed them,

and they stayed more peacefully than they would have in the hills. When they ceL ebrate Christmas every year here in the valley, forget about disturbance by Meeteis, even non-believer Meeteis joined in rejoicing the festival together.

On the contrary, the Meeteis who have been displaced from Churachandpur and Moreh will tell you the constant feeling of fear and apprehension they always had in their minds from those tribal neighbours. They are even forbidden from casting their votes, and they cannot celebrate Holi Festival without permission from the local leaders.

However, the greatest of all the shocks that I ever got is that these so-called Christian brethren have, far beyond the realms of my imagination, could terribly ravage,without an iota of guilty feeling, more than 800 square kilometres of the forest land of this beautiful motherland called Manipur secretively to plant poppy to earn thousands of crores of evil money to fulfil their sinister design not only to destroy Manipur but also to destroy hundreds of thousands families, not only in Manipur but also in different other States of India, through their satanic business of drugs.

Drugs, as everyone knows, are not meant for the cattle grazing on grass in the field. It is for the humans-for some fathers, some brothers, some sons, some daughters, and imagine in due course of time how many of them are going to be infected with AIDS, how many unfortunate children are going to become orphans, how many innocent mothers are going to become widows, how many dreams are going to be shattered, how many families are going to be destroyed, ... And man, these so-called Christians still don’t have any guilty feeling about it!

Shame, shame, shame ! No man or men within their sense will ever do such a business which even Lucifer would think twice before doing it. This is a clear indication that Manipur is not their motherland. Had they been the real sons and daughters of Manipur, and had they have the real deep love of Manipur as though she is their mother, they would not have given such pain and shame to her and to her people.

Therefore, even though a lot of conjectures and hypotheses seemed to have already been published in the local dailies as well as in the National media regarding the cause of the present conflict, I decided to take up the cudgels by sitting in front of my computer with my mind racing down each and every labyrinth of the memory lanes of nearly four decades of my past with the Kukis,

streamline every strand of thought that wriggles out of the cocoon of time and print them to be published for the world to know the real genesis of the present conflict.

So, the year was 1988, September, though ! fail to recollect the exact day and the date after so many years. (Forgive me please if any reader happens to find certain chronological topsy-turvy in my writing because 37 years is a pretty long time, and my memory can get a little hazy here and there.) There it was the prize distribution day of the school annual sports meet.

A memorable gala day for the school, indeed. That day, the school founder also very generously arranged for a grand feast known popularly in the staff circle as bara khana at her residence which was within the campus of the school itself. Thus, when the programme was over, the staff enjoyed the feast along with a few well-wishers from the locality.

When the feast was finally over, I was relaxing in the living room of the school founder when I saw a local elder who happens to be the younger brother of Mrs Hathoi Buansing whose name I was not very sure but whose residence was in the immediate vicinity of Sialmat Christian Hospital, came up to me and sat down beside me.

We spent a few minutes chatting on a few insignificant things. “I will show you something.”, he told me as he got up from his seat and walked up to the TV set which was on the opposite side of the room. He rummaged in a nearby cupboard which had a few video cassettes, picked up one from among them, and put it in the cassette slot of a VCD machine. He then walked back and sat down beside me as he started playing the cassette with the remote in his hand.

As I sat quietly with my eyes glued to the TV screen with some sort of anxiety and anticipation in my mind, a long chain of humans, mostly males, slowly appeared on the screen, some in single file and some in double file. It was a hilly terrain, and they were walking in a highly organized manner. Many of them were holding sticks made from bamboo or small branch in their hands to help themselves in climbing the slopes.

As the video camera man panned his camera, I could see that it was a long Chain of humanity extending far beyond the visual range. He broke the silence, and slowly began to explain to me that what we were seeing was Zomi Unification Rally - a rally to unify all the Zomis.

He also told me that the rally started from Churachandpur and continued till Aizawl, the capital of Mizoram. As he was about to continue his explanation further, I saw Mrs Hathoi Buansing who was moving around talking to the guests in the adjoining verandah where the feast was held, after a quick glance at what was appearing on the TV screen, walked up to us, and without even bothering to take a seat, started explaining more about the rally.

It was her words on that moment that really sounded a sense of alarm in my mind, and I am still remembering each word that she uttered along with the distinct body language that she displayed. “This is Zomi Unification Rally,” she said “and some day we the hill people are going to unify and live together. We have our people not only in Manipur but also in Mizoram. We also have our people in Burma (now Myanmar)”.

She then instinctively raised her right index finger at a certain angle towards the sky and then continued further, “We cannot be with the Meiteis. Your culture is different from us. We don’t believe in your Lai Haraoba. We don’t worship your Lairemba and Lairembi. We think it is devil worship”,

With a little bit of a mischievous smile, she further continued, “In our leaders meeting, we are making discussions not to reveal this secret of our unification to the valley people. We shall keep the Meiteis ignorant about this. We cannot afford the Meiteis to be wise; we shall let the Meiteis remain foolish. Only when the right time and the right moment come, we will do whatever is needed to achieve our goal.” She was about to continue further but was interrupted by someone calling her, and she immediately left us.

That was enough, and I don’t need any further description of this scene. For many years I kept on wondering why such a secret was revealed to me by Hathoi Buansing. Was it an emotional outburst on her part ? Or was it a mistake on her part to have spoken out such a secret ? I am not sure.

The only explanation I have as of now is that a man in twenties working 24X7X30 for salary of Rs 500/- naturally must have been looked upon as a nincompoop, and that revealing such secret will not have any serious implications in the future. Today, I am beginning to feel that the rally could be a part of the prelude of what is happening between the Meeteis/the Meiteis and the Kuki-Zo people today.

Bethany was a small world, and a few other noteworthy incidents and observations I experienced during my stay there which appeared seemingly insignificant those days but have suddenly become unbelievably significant after the 3rd of May 2023. They deserve their mention here to corroborate the point that I am attempting to drive home.

One such incident was that among the members of the staff, there was a teacher from Tamenglong teaching History who belonged to the Naga community (the name being kept withheld due to personal reason). His wife happened to be a lady from Hmar community who was also a member of the staff. Both studied MA together at Manipur University, and theirs was a love marriage.

Once, while I was,in the staff room, she confided to a few of us in the staff room that whenever there was heated argument between her and her husband, her husband would often scold her telling “you immigrants!”

Imagine it was almost four decades back, and the intelligent Nagas already got the wind of the intentions of the Kukis way ahead of the Meeteis. This could be the reason why the Nagas attempted to displace them from the Naga inhabited areas in the early 90s. The Meeteis, however, with a naivety of gargantuan dimension, helped them during those days who now are backstabbing the Meeteis to the hilt.

Another significant observation that I made was that a lot of Burmese Kukis were there in the campus -some as students, some as teachers, some as workers, and a few shuttling to and fro from Bethany to Burma (now Myanmar) almost every alternate week. Some of them got jobs and settled down after marriage. By now, not only they but also their children must be having perfect voter’s card, Aadhar card, Pan card, etc.

Now, if these were happening in Bethany, it can be conjectured that it could be happening under the very nose of our past leaders in other places where the Kukis are settling - for many decades without any checking.

The CONCLUSION now is very apparent that the present Kuki-Zo and the Meetei conflict has nothing to do with the Meeteis/the Meiteis demanding ST status. Neither is the developmental imbalance between the valley and the hills the cause as depicted by one mainland Indian lady writer in a book written by her.

The root cause of the present conflict can be summed up in just one short Meetei proverb that reads phamba challaga hippa challi meaning when you get a place to seat, you will somehow get the place to lie down,, and (my additions) when you have a place to lie down, you will star thinking for a bed, a room, a house, a land of your own, a ... a State/a country of your own. Kuki-Zo people seem to have been doing that for the past many decades by out-populating, out-breeding and out-enriching the majority community ie the Meeteis to bring a demographic inversion as well as financial dominance.

Issue of illegal migrants is not for Manipur alone, but it is a world-wide issue. This issue has been compared by many as cancer-unless it is removed quickly from the body, the host is going to succumb to it sooner or later.

Excepting Japan and Poland, almost all the countries under European Union, America, Australia, etc. are currently reeling under the issue of illegal migrants. India too needs a double checking in her status in this regard and do the needful at the earliest so that' the Nation’s existence is not left in jeopardy.

Finally, what has been written above are purely from my experience, and I shall not make any response to any rejoinder - be it in support or in contradiction. Amen.

* Mutum Prabir Kumar Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 18 May 2024

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