TODAY -

Kangpokpi, a safe haven for immigrants and its rampant growth

Diphiu Prinmai *

 Map of Kangpokpi
Map of Kangpokpi :: Pix - TSE



It was William McCulloch, the British Political Agent in Manipur who resettled the Kukis in 1840s in the ancestral lands of the Nagas to create his infamous ‘buffer zone’ as a policy to contain any resistance by pitching the Kuki mercenaries against the Nagas, the Burmese and the Lushais.

According to Sir James Johnstone 'My Experience in Manipur and the Naga Hills' the Kukis are a wandering race consisting of several tribes who have been working up from the south. The term SADAR Hills was coined by JC Higgins in the 1930s as an acronym for Selected Area Development Administrative Region (SADAR) for the purpose of accommodating ex-servicemen.

SADAR hills came into existence on 22nd May, 1947 and later upgraded to a sub-division on 25th May, 1951. Decades later in the 1970s the Kukis began to demand for a district of their own known as Sadar Hills District.

They were first heard as Kukis in Manipur between 1830s and 1840s. Subsequently, during the transitional periods of 1961 coup, 1988 ethnic conflicts and 2021 Military Coup, thousands of Kuki refugees fled from Burma and entered Manipur from the porous 1,643 km Indo-Myanmar border.

There was no system or mechanism to filter such infiltration and scrutinize fabrications of Government records and forgery of personal documents to become a citizen of the State. Thus, began the illegal and unchecked infiltration of the refugees who became a Scheduled Tribe of India overnight and settled in Manipur.

The bureaucrats turned a blind eye to such development while their political masters continue to cultivate their vote banks and augment this illegal growth of population. In order to achieve bloated vote banks and also grabbing the land of indigenous citizens, the politicians implemented a divisive policy of employing their own puppets (bureaucrats) in all key Government departments to ensure smooth documentation process.

It was on the midnight of 08 December, 2016 the State Government of Manipur led by the then Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh declared 7 districts including Kangpokpi defying the four Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the United Naga Council (UNC), Manipur and the Government of Manipur, that the Sadar Hills district cannot be created without due consultation and the consent of the indigenous Naga land owners.

Leave alone consulting the United Naga Council, the State Government did not consult even the Constitutional body, the Hill Area Committee (HAC) while creating this controversial district. Thus, finally the Manipur Government in order to quench its political thirst granted the Kukis’ demand by formally naming the new district as Kangpokpi, comprising of nine Kuki sub-divisions, Saitu Gamphazol, Kangpokpi, Saikul, Kangchup Geljang, Bungte Chiru, Champhai, T Waichong, Lungtin and Island.

The exponential growth of new villages due to uncontrolled influx of illegal immigration mainly from Myanmar (Burma) being facilitated for electoral gain in the last seventy (70) years in the State had caused rampant settlement in Kangpokpi District. Over a period of time these illegal immigrants known as the Kuki have maintained a demographic edge over the newly-created district of Kangpokpi.

The creation of new district turns out to be a well-laid political plan, ‘a demographic engineering’ to tilt the balance of power against the genuine indigenous Nagas. A deliberate and continuous attempt is being made to reduce the indigenous citizens to voiceless and invisible minorities in our own land through a systematic and divisive structural manipulation.

In the new Kangpokpi district the Nagas are divided and placed in different Constituencies or segments thus weakening their political thrust and making them handicapped to thrive politically.

To recapitulate the exponential growth of the Kuki population which has caused demographic imbalances one has to carry out a comparative analysis of 1951 & 2021 census and increase in number of villages. In the 1951 census the total population of Senapati district (Naga, Kuki and Nepali) was 46,608 out of which the Kuki population under Senapati district was just a few thousand.

But in 2021, the Kuki population soared to unbelievably 2.80 lakh. How this illogically humongous figure has been achieved within 70 years is a question to be answered. Secondly, in 1969 there were a total of 179 villages (Naga, Kuki, Nepali) while according to 1972 report there were only 27 Kuki villages but in the report of 2023 it is seen that a total of 542 new villages have been increased in Kangpokpi District.

The total Kuki villages in entire Manipur are now 1878 from just a mere figure of 73 in the year 1881. The overwhelming growth of villages could be due to unlawful recognizing by the concern department of the Government. At this rampant growth rate, the days are not far off when the indigenous people will be displaced and face the status of refugee.

Further, the establishment of SoO camp in Koubru Range and extortion along the IT-road (Imphal-Tamei road ) has brought distress beyond limit to the commuters and small traders in the area. To add to the misery of the indigenous people the rampant cultivation of poppy and timber logging has brought in environmental degradation in the area.

Surprisingly, inspite of unrestrained extortion and harassment the State Government or its police system have failed miserably to attend to the reports of the victims. The only saving grace is the deployment of Assam Riffles post at Gelnal, which gave some sense of security to a certain stretch of the IT road.

Therefore, it’s high time the present Government develop a platform where the indigenous minorities can exercise their democratic rights and empower themselves politically in their own land.

The Government must roll back the newly created districts and re- organize to keep all the indigenous minorities under one umbrella and not let them further succumb to the divisive political policies, which have been applied since last 5 decades.

The indigenous communities have been deprived of all developmental packages for long in their own land. Hence, the attention of the present Government is drawn towards providing political and economical justice to indigenous Naga people living in Kangpokpi district.


* Diphiu Prinmai wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The Writer can be reached at diphiuprinmai(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on March 15 2024 .



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