Will Manipur ever be the same again ?

Ngaranmi Shimray *

The destuction at Moreh :: Pix - TSE

The Nagas and Kukis have a long history of animosity and warfare. The fights were vendetta over century old bloodsheds and claims of land ownership. There was a detente only after the control of various areas between the warring tribes became clearer after ethnic cleansing in many locations. To a great extent the Churches played a role in the reconciliation.

However, areas of potential conflict still exists even to this day with onus of not aggravating the fragile detente falling mainly on the Kukis. This is so as the Kukis are settled on highways between the Imphal valley and higher hills and mountains inhabited by Naga tribes. The Kukis have always been careful not to provoke the Nagas whenever road bandh are imposed by Kuki organisations.

It is this stranglehold the Kukis have on the National Highways that the Meiteis in Imphal and Moreh are suffering from today. Similarly, the Kukis are not having access to any locations in the hills via Imphal valley. Both warring parties are exerting their influence to control the life line that runs across each other’s territories. If normalcy has to be restored, the imposition of selective blockade by each party has to be lifted first.

In the current conflict the Nagas have played a very responsible role of not taking sides but have recently expressed their exasperation with the United Naga Council (UNC) issuing a statement to both warring parties to stop harassing and stop provoking the Nagas. They have cautioned the Nagas living in Imphal to consider evacuating from Imphal if the situation does warrant. This hint is ominous and can only mean that the Nagas may favour leaving Imphal giving a blow to Manipur.

In 2023, the Kukis had taken cudgels with the Meiteis. There are many dimensions to the current clashes but it can be said that it centres around land, rapid population growth and poppy cultivation. The Kukis may be realising gradually now they have picked a fight with a community whicj has more resources including State Government control and a Central Government leaning on their side that these factors would favour the Meitei in a long haul conflict.

This will not be an easy fight for both parties but it will be the Kukis who will suffer more from social, economic and political deprivation in the long run. The sooner reality of the situation is realised by both parties the brighter the prospects for seeking out opportunities for peace.

Land has always been, and will always remain, an emotive issue. In the current clashes ethnic cleansing has been achieved in various pockets of the State. Meiteis have been evicted from Churachandpur district and Moreh town while the Meitei villages in the valley adjacent to the hills have become inhabitable on account of intermittent gun fire.

Their business and livelihood have been destroyed. Kuki-Zomi villages on hill areas surrounding the Imphal valley have been evicted, largely vacated but the presence of armed Kuki-Zomi persons in and around the hill villages, taking pot shots at innocent Meitei farmers have become a thorn in the flesh of the Meiteis. The properties and businesses of Kuki-Zomi have been vandalised and occupied by radical elements in Imphal city.

The Kuki-Zomi MLAs, top bureaucrats, Government functionaries, business persons and common men have been evicted from Imphal, the capital of Manipur and cannot return till they feel safe to come back. Similarly, the properties and houses of Meiteis have been looted, torched and levelled in Churachandpur and Moreh. Meitei business persons and farmers cannot return to their last place of residence.

The story is the same for the villages on both sides of the divide in the Imphal valley and the hillocks surrounding the valley. At the current extent of estrangement and war of attrition everybody is left wondering whether Manipur will ever be the same again after this conflict.

Trying to make sense of past history, the suspicion that the Kukis are trouble makers seem to stick. They had been used as reprisal forces armed with muskets issued by British colonial power to control difficult tribes.

At the time of the first world war the Kukis refused to help the war efforts as labour force and rebelled. Their rebellion affected mainly the non-Kuki tribes whose fighting ability was depleted as their youth had gone to Europe to aid the war efforts.

It was a vile tactical policy of the Kukis to pillage defenceless Naga villages whose main menfolks were in Europe causing deaths and destruction in its aftermath and it was more or less a one-sided fight. The second coordinated geo-political move by the Kukis was the control of the strategically important border town of Moreh. They succeeded by evicting the Nagas.

This time the Kukis have picked up a fight with the Meiteis, an adversary better placed than the Nagas to harm and damage their interest in every sphere of life. In the Naga-Kuki conflict the goal was just eviction from land. In the current fight with Meiteis, the Kukis have suffered considerably by losing political participation in the Assembly and total administrative absence in administrative institutions at Imphal.

The Kuki-Zomi are deprived of access to the High Court, subordinate Courts, universities, police headquarters, airport, land routes through the Imphal valley etc. Earnings from properties in Imphal for the Kuki-Zomi has stopped.

But the gravest danger of all for the Kuki-Zomi, after the Centre has acceded to the plea of Mr Biren Singh, Chief Minister of Manipur to erect fencing wall and remove Free Movement Regime (FMR) in the Indo-Myanmar border, is the fear that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) may be implemented in Manipur. Implementation of NRC could affect the Kuki-Zomi population the most with loss of citizenship.

From what is currently happening in Manipur, one is tempted to conclude that there may be no easy solution to the ethnic conflict before the 2024 Parliamentary elections. Allegations of rigging and electoral frauds cannot be ruled out as deployment of polling officials and security personnel in the Outer Manipur Constituency will be the biggest challenge to the Election Department of Manipur.

Allegations of such nature could result in cancellation of Outer Manipur Parliamentary seat election in 2024 leaving the hill areas without a representative in Parliament. On the economic front, economic activities will decline, prices will keep on rising and common people will become poorer throughout the State. Developmental schemes will come to a halt. Unemployment will sky rocket.

Education will suffer. Pot shots will continue to be fired from the hill top on innocent farmers. Free movement of goods will continue to be impeded. The Nagas and other non-warring communities will suffer from collateral damage of the conflict. This may become the “new normal” for people of Manipur which everybody should be working hard to avoid.

Given the high degree of estrangement between the warring communities, the time is not too late for the Churches of Manipur to take over the role of interlocutor and parley peace between the warring community. At the political level the Ministry of Home Affairs is talking to different leaders.

However, the willingness of both estranged parties to seek mediation may provide the much needed confidence for the Churches of Manipur to come forward. With such a mandate, the return of peace in this land could be explored. There is no harm in trying. But try we must.

* Ngaranmi Shimray wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a social activist and political analyst based in New Delhi.
Advocate for clean politics and passionate about tribal rights.
He can be reached at Shimray2011(AT)Gmail(DOT)Com
@Aran Shimray on X
This article was webcasted on 17 March 2024 .

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • HSLC (Class X) 2024 : Full Result
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • Licypriya meets Italy PM & Pope Francis
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Private Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Aided Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Pass % : Govt Schools
  • HSLC 2024 : Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC 2024 : Comparative Statement
  • HSLC 2024 : Important Info & Grading System
  • Combined Defence Services Exam 2024
  • Good show in Class X exams
  • Downplaying the crisis
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #3
  • Reviving Lamphelpat : Conservation : Gallery
  • Commemorate Naga Plesbicite Day 1951 #1
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hojai
  • The Power of Poppy - 32 :: Poem
  • Insights from CUET-UG Counselling
  • International Day for Biological Diversity
  • Unseen force at work: Time to unravel it
  • Sheikh Hasina's revelation
  • The Vanishing Meitei Tribe
  • Building career in defence & strategic study
  • Why example of model code of conduct ?
  • Ownership of responsibility
  • Will pressure mount on key players in NE
  • How to save your foot after an accident
  • Children Camp @JNMDA Imphal #3 : Gallery
  • Education Fair @Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Project Associate @ CSE, Assam Univ
  • Understanding schizophrenia
  • Advancement in Multi Objective Optimization
  • When will women in voter list increase ?
  • Making 2 plus 2 is equal to 5
  • Changing face of drug menace
  • Scientist of Manipur: Jayanta Manoharmayum
  • 25 yrs since Atal Vajpayee visit to RIMS
  • 4 Lakhs donated to support (L) Maipak Family
  • Clarification: Guwahati Meet on Humanitarian
  • Start UPSC prep after 12th for success
  • Tips to avoid melting makeup in summer
  • Giving a big solid push to ST demand
  • Time to come clean
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba: 1 occasion, 2 narratives #3
  • Khongjom Day @Khebaching #2 : Gallery
  • A year of hostilities
  • Licypriya Kangujam to travel to Italy
  • Declining moral standards in public life
  • Healthy democracy with independent media
  • Why endangered species matter to us
  • Significant Guwahati meeting : 1st visible step
  • The Pallel story
  • Aftermath of ferocious hailstorm #2 : Gallery
  • Ukhrul: Climate change grip on water supply
  • Commemoration of World Eld's Deer Day
  • Indo-Naga Talks (From 2012) :: Timeline
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Hiyanglam
  • Dance of democracy, a miracle in making !
  • Learn to look 10/20/30 years hence
  • The zero FIR, zero lesson
  • 'Ishanou' Selection @ Cannes #1: Gallery
  • MOU signed: MTI-HUB & KIIT-TBI & SAbF
  • Lament of the Mourning Choir :: Poem
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Wabagai
  • RSS-BJP fracas
  • Trials for Canoe Slalom World Cup
  • Poser from a villager says it all Kamjong
  • The cover-up effort
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #2
  • Manipuri women in the arena of politics
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Assam
  • Aimee Baruah at red carpet of Cannes
  • National Defence Academy Exam 2024
  • How digital media changed communications
  • Manipur stands scandalised
  • All eyes on UP battle
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #32: Download
  • Riots to a shrine- Ram Mandir of Ayodhya
  • Handle with care. F.R.I.E.N.D.S inside!
  • The Power of Poppy - 31 :: Poem
  • Celebrate the journey !
  • Career counselling : A life guidance tool
  • Scientist of Manipur: Amom Ruhikanta
  • Conspiracy, thy name is Kuki !
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Thounaojam
  • Ket Meth New Album "Ghost Stories"
  • World Hypertension Day
  • International Day of Families
  • Let the rule of law prevail
  • When donation becomes obligatory demand
  • Tourism of Manipur through Gastronomy
  • Beyond Eternity :: Poem
  • Patriarch subjugation on women
  • Celebrate Manipuri Cinema shine at Cannes
  • Training on cultivation of various mushroom
  • Transformative impact of Ayurveda & Yoga
  • War for over a year : Delhi is answerable
  • The logic behind illogical chargesheet
  • Preserving Thang-Ta :: Rare Photos
  • Regarding Human Rights Situation in Manipur
  • World Hypertension Day 2024
  • Article 355 of Constitution of India #3
  • Disinformation campaign touba thengnarey
  • Deeply mourn the demise of Oja Biren Lamba
  • Water Mimosa for sustainable development
  • Publicity drives of educational institutions
  • ED's revolutionary move!!!
  • Malemnganbi Laishram : Science Topper
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2024 #2: Gallery
  • Thokchom Sheityajit : Arts Topper
  • Aiena Naorem : Commerce Topper
  • AISSE 2024 Exam Result- RKM Imphal
  • Gold, new world currency !
  • Milk for hair and skin
  • Of illegal immigrants & the larger picture
  • The missive from Kamjong
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Science Topper
  • HSE 2024 : Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : District Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2024 : Candidates with Highest Marks
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Science Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Arts Full Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024: Commerce Result
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Arts Topper
  • Hr Secondary Exam 2024 : Commerce Topper
  • Sezo Ringa- Debut Music Video "Revival"
  • Journalism - A thrilling career #2
  • After Class XII where? The eternal question
  • Entry of Arvind Kejriwal
  • Birth Centenary of Jananeta Irabat, 1996 : #1
  • Our nurses, our future: Power of care
  • Screenplay Writing course concluded
  • Workshop on IP & Patent Filing held
  • Let there be less Politics in Sports
  • Sam Pitroda is absolutely white
  • Motherhood: Soul & spirit of family & society
  • Time has come to criminalise ecocide
  • Meiteis, a disappearing community in Manipur
  • World Bamboo Congress @Taiwan : Gallery
  • Ima Manipur should smile more
  • 2nd National Lok Adalat at High Court
  • The Power of Poppy - 30 :: Poem
  • Army impact on Tamphasana Wushu odyssey
  • Aftermath of ferocious hailstorm #1 : Gallery
  • "Dynamic library service" :: Book Rvw
  • Radio E-pao: Manipuri Film OST (130+ song)
  • Artificial Intelligence & Environment
  • Article 355 of Constitution of India #2
  • Integrated Farming Systems for farmers #4
  • Delhi's stand after 1 year of clash
  • A new type of terrorism
  • Scientist of Manipur: Waikhom Vishwanath
  • SRF, JRF, RA @ Assam University
  • The Bleeding River :: Poem
  • Executive Meeting of WMC Assam Unit
  • Journalism - A thrilling career #1
  • Raising the call to replace Minister
  • A storm in a political teacup
  • Cheirao-chingkaba @ Chinga : Gallery
  • Happy Mother's Day
  • Empowering hill communities via U-Mangra
  • African Swine Fever
  • Free Training on Mushroom at Nagamapal
  • Harshit Dhingaun recieves award from Korea
  • Look for ways to restore normalcy
  • The danger of last kicks of a dying horse
  • Preserving Thang-Ta traditions
  • Resolving ST issue by democratic process
  • Top 5 songs to awaken your inner patriot
  • Project Assistant @ Manipur University
  • Leishemba Sanajaoba conferred Doctorate
  • Double tragedy: No time for red-tapism
  • A Youtuber called Dhruv
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing : Full Book
  • 174th Anniv Maharaj Narasingh #2 : Gallery
  • Challenges in Healthcare in rural Manipur
  • A salute to leadership quality of PM Modi
  • Career in press for freedom of expression
  • One day after devastating hailstorm
  • Understanding the suffering of others
  • A ferocious hailstorm @Imphal : Gallery
  • Article 355 of Constitution of India #1
  • Integrated Farming Systems for farmers #3
  • Election gossip & rumours
  • 'Melodic Minds' Tour in Guwahati
  • Leaving a trail of destruction
  • Political see-saw
  • A brand-new Scientific discovery
  • In memoriam of the happiness we shared !
  • Crop/animal for higher productivity in NE #5
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Sekmaijin
  • Oh Motherland :: Poem
  • Animal life should be treated with dignity
  • '365 Days of Chin-Kuki Aggression' : Gallery
  • Renaissance of politics in our youth
  • TB & tobacco co-epidemics in Indonesia
  • The Power of Poppy - 29 :: Poem
  • Advanced Charging Infrastructure in NE
  • Lessons learnt in the last one year
  • True colour of politics
  • World Heritage Day @ MU : Gallery
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Kakwa
  • Joint Combing Operations in Jiribam
  • Reboot PSUs for jobs: Task for new Govt
  • Ayurvedic remedies to keep healthy eyes
  • May 3, 2023 to May 3, 2024
  • One year of crisis, and what next ?
  • Scientist of Manipur: Nongmaithem Rajmuhon
  • Whither social justice & work for women?
  • Taiwan to enhancing economic ties with India
  • Integrated Farming Systems for farmers #2
  • Athoubasingi Numit #2 : Gallery
  • Privilege trap of While Male Meitei
  • Crop/animal for higher productivity in NE #4
  • 'Chizami Model' working in Gujarat ?
  • Racing towards the one year mark
  • On misattribution & falsifying history
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing #15 :: Book
  • May Calendar for Year 2024 : Tools
  • 12th World Bamboo Congress at Taiwan
  • Complex dance of democracy in Manipur
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Pangaltabi
  • Integrated Farming Systems for farmers #1
  • Showing ugly face of muscle power
  • Spare the rod, spoil the monster
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #31: Download
  • Socio-Historical analysis on Ethnic Conflict
  • "ST status for Meetei" at Langmeidong
  • Ngangbam Dipapati- Gold @European Cup
  • Crop/animal for higher productivity in NE #3
  • Fresh surge in violence
  • The real culprit
  • National Science Teacher workshop
  • Livelihood Disaster in Mapithel Region
  • Scientists of Manipur : Laishram Ladu Singh
  • Imphal Ring Road Project to Transform
  • Lok Sabha polls in Manipur #2 : Gallery
  • The Happiness Code : Download
  • NH-2 Bridge bombed @Sapermeina : Gallery
  • Khongjom Day @Khebaching #1 : Gallery
  • Id-ul-Fitr @Hatta #2 : Gallery
  • Workshop @ NSU Manipur : Gallery
  • 174th Anniv Maharaj Narasingh #1 : Gallery
  • Lok Sabha polls in Manipur #1 : Gallery
  • Children Camp @JNMDA Imphal #2 : Gallery
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 : Gallery
  • Scientists of Manipur : Laitonjam Warjeet
  • Community seed bank @Umathel : Gallery
  • Athoubasingi Numit #1 : Gallery
  • Scientists of Manipur : Ngangkham Nimai
  • Sajibu Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #1 : Gallery
  • Kenedy Khuman (Singer) : Gallery
  • Students @ Class X Exam : Gallery
  • GHOST of PEACE :: Download Booklet
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD