The Kuki National Organisation rejoinder to NSCN ? Isak & Muivah?s article
By: PS Haokip
President, Kuki National Organisation
?KUKI AND THE NAGA PUBLIC CLASHES?.
The Kuki National Organisation (KNO) is pained to respond to the National Socialist Council of Nagaland ? Isak & Muivah?s (NSCN-IM) article ?KUKI AND THE NAGA PUBLIC CLASHES?, posted on the website
A ceasefire was signed between the Government of India and NSCN-IM in 1997. Adopting a paternalistic position the Government have since engaged in dialogue with the NSCN-IM. In spite of the extreme atrocities committed on innumerable innocent Kuki public, particularly between 1992-1997, the KNO, through its armed wing, the Kuki National Army (KNA), agreed to a ceasefire with the Tangkhul dominated NSCN-IM in 2002. This was done a) to demonstrate Kuki does not begrudge Naga gaining its due as a result of the talks with GOI, and b) in anticipation that Naga would honourably reciprocate where Kuki issues are concerned. Unfortunately, such confidence has been betrayed by Isak & Muivah?s article ?KUKI AND THE NAGA PUBLIC CLASHES?. Rather than reciprocate to Kuki overtures, Muivah disgracefully continues to engage in activities that are negative.
KNO is therefore compelled to respond to NSCN-IM?s diatribe with certain clarifications so that mutual trust may be the mainstay of Naga and Kuki relationship. (Please note that historical relationships among Kuki, Angami, Kabui and Zeliang have been cordial.)
1. In the article ?KUKI AND THE NAGA PUBLIC CLASHES?, Isak and Muivah have brazenly tried to deny the role of NSCN-IM in the genocide against Kuki. This is the main purpose of their article, besides wanting to malign the Kuki people and airing their general views and grievances against GOI. They have also tried to portray the relationship that turned violent between the two communities in 1990s as ?clashes?, which is a complete misnomer. The motive for this description appears to be intended to involve all Nagas against Kuki. It must be noted that it is mainly the Tangkhul-led NSCN-IM that are responsible for aggressions against the Kukis; most of the Naga people have good relationships with Kukis, which goes back to ancient days. In other words, it is essentially the Manipur Nagas, organized as Naga Limguards (volunteers), who were led by NSCN-IM that have been hostile to Kuki, not Nagas of Nagaland.
2. The Kuki people did not start any ?clashes?. Since the 1950s the Tangkhuls have been engaged in a process of ethnic cleansing of Kukis. Unable to bear the sustained killing of their people, the Kukis started to fight back in the 1990s. The media has popularly used ?ethnic conflict?, an equally incorrect term like ?clashes?, to describe the turmoil in the two communities? relationship. It must be noted that Kuki only acted in self-defence against the atrocities committed by NSCN-IM. There is no ?ethnic conflict? or ?clashes? between the two communities; there is only aggression by NSCN-IM, and defence by Kuki. The proof of this lies in the fact that as soon as NSCN-IM and GOI singed a ceasefire in 1997, the Kukis stopped fighting back.
3. Between 1950-1990, Tangkhuls carried out a selective and systematic elimination of Kuki chiefs and elders. This was done to implant a fear psychosis among Kukis so that they may leave their lands for Tangkhuls to occupy. In total 42 people were killed, and 64 Kuki villages were also uprooted (see APPENDIX I); the land is now occupied by Tangkhuls. The NSCN-IM-led Nagas of Manipur intensified the ethnic cleansing of Kukis from 1992. By 1997 Kuki casualties totaled over nine hundred people dead (see APPENDIX II), three hundred and fifty villages uprooted, and more than fifty thousand Kuki population displaced.
4. Ceasefire initiatives under Committee on Restoration of Normalcy (CRN) between Kuki Innpi and United Naga Council:
Several meetings under Committee on Restoration of Normalcy (CRN) were held to discuss ceasefire between Kuki Innpi and United Naga Council. On all of these occasions, despite the gruesome killings of Kukis led by NSCN-IM, the Kukis agreed to have a ceasefire with Nagas. The Naga contingent, however, were unwilling to commit themselves because, as they put it, ?Muivah does not want peace with the Kukis. Therefore, we are scarred to agree to sign a ceasefire with Kukis.? The extent of Muivah?s intentions became apparent following a meeting held at Manipur Baptist Council on 8 October 1994: soon after this session, Lalkhohen Thangeo, vice-president of Kuki Innpi, who was on his way home to Kangpokpi was abducted while boarding a bus at the station at Dewlahland by NSCN-IM. He was treacherously beheaded. A few days later Mr Thangeo?s truncated body stuffed in a gunnysack was found in a pond. There ended the initiatives for ceasefire between Naga and Kuki. The failure of the ceasefire talks is clear evidence of the fact that NSCN-IM was behind the genocide of Kukis. Muivah cannot deny NSCN-IM?s involvement in the atrocities committed on Kuki. The fact that he does in spite of all the evidence pointing against him, suggests that he is a pathological liar.
5. There is a notable distinction between the late AZ Phizo and Muivah?s political philosophy: AZ Phizo, president of Naga National Council (NNC), did not communalise Naga nationalism; in contrast Muivah did. This is evident in the fact that there was never any organized offensive towards Kuki during Phizo?s time; pogroms against Kuki started only after the NSCN-IM faction was created.
6. To achieve the pogrom against Kuki, Muivah first of all incited Naga public sentiment. He succeeded in doing this, for example, by fabricating videotape recordings depicting Kukis killing Nagas in the past. The videotapes were circulated widely for viewing among Nagas. Thereafter, Muivah was able to divert the attention of Nagas and hijack Naga politics to carry out a personally charged vendetta on Kuki. The severe atrocity committed on Kuki could not have been possible otherwise. If the aggressions were carried out by Naga village folk alone, the Kuki casualty would be much less.
7. It is preposterous that Muivah should attempt to dissociate himself for the crimes committed on Kuki people. This, in fact, is the focal point of Isak & Muivah?s article. It is astonishing that Muivah has managed to rope in Isak in carrying out his malicious activities. The well-oiled NSCN-IM propaganda machinery cannot hope to continue to deceive the public. The Zeliangrong Nagas, with whom Kukis always had good relations, have also realized that Muivah exploited them for his ambition to establish a Tangkhul dominated Naga politics. Curiously, among the Naga casualty there are very few Tangkhuls, most are Old Kukis in Chandel, who are under pressure from NSCN-IM identified as Naga, and Kabuis in Tamenglong district. At the height of tensions between Naga and Kuki, Ukhrul was relatively peaceful. The violence was concentrated in Chandel, Senapati and Tamenglong districts. This reveals the extent of Muivah-Tangkhul slyness. Muivah?s track record, which is fraught with crimes he has committed over the years, is meticulously maintained by a host of NGOs concerned about justice and human rights issues. Muivah should not be so deluded to think that he will be allowed to go scot-free, ever.
8. A dichotomy of views among Naga leaderships became palpable after the Shillong Accord of 1975, particularly when Muivah eliminated pro-Phizo NNC members in large numbers. Muivah also killed Rev Longri Ao, who was designated by the Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) to work for reconciliation among the Naga factions. After committing such a sacrilegious crime, Muivah fled to Burma. One hundred Naga warriors, consisting mainly of Chakesangs and Angamis, pursued him, but the NSCN-IM cadre eliminated them all.
9. On 14 August 1992, the NNC leaders were celebrating Nagaland Independence Day at Athibung. Rhuphrielie, H Ajang Kuki, Dzusoto Angami, Roklosielie, Neizolie, Rhurhrielie, T Moa Ao, Medo-u, Pfushealea, Vizosei Chakesang, Mekhrie Lheukhon Mao, S Joseph were present on the occasion. All of these NNC members were massacred in cold blood by NSCN-IM. Dally Mongro General Secretary of NSCN (K), Lt General Lemchu, Zhekhovi, James Trakha Pochury, Asang Snock Pochury, General Puvezo Chakesang, Tobu Kevichusa, Chale Kevichusa are some of the other prominent Naga leaders who were killed by NSCN-IM.
10. In Burma, altercations with Khaplang resulted in the death of a multitude of committed Naga nationalists, all killed by Muivah?s men. At this juncture, fearing severe Naga retribution, Muivah schemed a diversion: he initiated an anti-Kuki drive for which there was considerable sympathy in Nagaland among Isak?s followers. Details of some of the more serious acts of aggression perpetrated on Kukis are as follows:
? Uniformed NSCN-IM cadres armed with sophisticated weapons, such as AK47, were deployed on several occasions to lead the Naga Limguard against vulnerable Kuki village people. One major incident is the Zoupi massacre, which took place on 13 September 1993, in Tamenglong District of Manipur. The incident is marked as ?The Black Day? for Kukis. The British Broadcasting Corporation reported on the gruesome event.
? The Zoupi massacre of 13 September 1993
The Nagas issued a notice to the people of Zoupi to quit the village by 15 September. Aware that the NSCN-IM was behind the quit notice, the Kuki people of Zoupi did not wait until the 15 September deadline; they left on 13 September. However, they were intercepted en route the same day. Altogether 90 Kuki men were separated from their families. Hands bound to their backs, they were mercilessly hacked to death with machetes. Had it been a case of just Naga village people involved in the interception, the ninety Kuki men would have put up a struggle. There was no trace of any resistance. The scale of violence demonstrates the extent of influence Muivah wielded among the Nagas of Tamenglong. It beggars belief that Muivah should try to deny his involvement in the incident and have the gall to refer to it as ?the unfortunate Zoupi incident of 14th September 1993?! Yambem Laba of Manipur Human Rights remarked that the Naga cry against human rights abuse perpetrated by the Indian army for over fifty years was completely overshadowed by one incident of Naga atrocity against the Kukis of Zoupi village on 13 September 1993. This is a statement, which reflects accurately the degree of violation committed in this incident by the NSCN-IM.
? With regard to Muivah?s claim on ?the issue of ?Quit Nagas? order in Moreh on 30th May, 1992 by KNA?, the facts are as follows: In 1992, on 12 May, Holkhojang Haokip; 17 May, Lhunkhothang; 26 May, Tongkholun were killed by NSCN-IM near Moreh in Chandel district. On 3 June 1992, Onkholet Haokip, a schoolteacher and social worker, was also killed by the NSCN-IM. All of these killings took place in the heart of Kuki land. This is where NSCN-IM had the effrontery to demand tax from Kuki villages. Members of the Tangkhul community at Moreh were found to clandestinely engage in providing information to NSCN-IM. They also supplied ammunitions to NSCN-IM cadres, and served as collectors of ?Tax? from Kukis, etc. The Kukis did not want to harass the Tangkhul public, but such arrogant activities were intolerable. Therefore, the KNA served them quit notice to leave Moreh. As mentioned by Shimray, Luithui and Bose (1994), ?On July 13, 1992 mass exodus of Naga civilians started from Moreh area.? Please note, the quit notice date served by KNA is 30 May; the ?mass exodus? of Tangkhuls took place on 13 July. This is in stark contrast to what happened at Zoupi where 15 September was the quit notice deadline, and in spite of the Kuki village people leaving on 13 September, they were still massacred en route. Why is it that those Tangkhuls and the Nagas of Manipur led by Muivah always such a barbaric group? Do they not know that honour is a virtue even at the worst of times?
Atrocities that involve rape of women, killing of male infants and other serious incidents are also included (photographic evidence is available):
? 19 September 1993:
Following the Zoupi incident, Kuki families, mainly comprising women and children were stationed at Taloulong transit camp. NSCN-IM people went to the camp and picked out thirteen male infants, all aged below five, and butchered them. One of the mothers recounted the event involving her son: ?I was carrying my baby daughter in my arms and my son was strapped onto my back. My son, who was evidently conscious of the Naga?s intentions, clung tightly on to the collar of my blouse, crying not to let him be taken away. The Naga, who identified the child?s sex, snatched him from me, threw him up in the air and sliced him into pieces with a machete.? This is Naga genocide of Kuki.
? 8 October 1992:
Three women were murdered after being raped at Moultuh, in Chandel district; a two-month old female including two men were also killed. Dr Isack Lamkang, Medical Officer of Chandel, conducted the post-mortem on one of the rapped women, Tinkhohoi Touthang, 20 years of age. The doctor reported:
Face blindfolded. Gang raped before being killed. Throat slit up with knife. Left portion of the skull completely battered up. Left breast badly bruised. A piece of stick measuring about 7 inches was found inserted in her vagina.
? 7 June 1993:
14 people were killed at Khalong, in Sadar Hills. Eight of these victims were women, all of whom were raped and then killed; the remaining three were children and three men.
? 10 May 1995:
At Taphou, in Sadar Hills, three women were raped and killed, one male was also brutally murdered.
? 18 January 1994:
At Yangnoi, Sadar Hills, seven women belonging to the Chongloi Kuki sub-clan were raped and killed while they were collecting a local herb called aithanglou (in a Kuki dialect) in a nearby forest; as a mark of the tragic incident, men of the village have sworn never again to eat the herb.
? 19 November 1994:
At Thingsan, in Chandel district, NSCN-IM cadre dressed in Indian Security Forces? uniform and armed with sophisticated weapons, huddled together twenty-five men, tied their hands to their backs and killed them all.
(A comprehensive list of Kuki casualty is given in APPENDIX II)
11. KUKI TERRITORY
The Kuki people have always dwelt in Zale?n-gam, their ancestral land. Zale?n-gam includes the hills of present-day Manipur. Ukhrul District, where Muivah, belonging to the Tangkhul tribe, hails is also a part of Kuki territory. Kuki maintained peace in Zale?n-gam. The Tangkhuls paid tax and tributes to the Kuki chiefs. It was also customary for them to carry the Kuki chiefs on palanquins whenever they toured the region. In Zale?n-gam, the Tangkhul population, which engaged constantly in intra-clan warfare would have become extinct, but for the intervention of Kukis. Contrary to Muivah?s allegation of Kukis killing Tangkhuls, that intra-clan or internecine warfare was the order of the day amongst Nagas in general is clearly described by SC Jamir, former Chief Minister of Nagaland in Bedrock of Naga Society:
The main ?contact? between villages was through the savage practice of headhunting. Mutual suspicion and distrust was rife. People led an insular and isolated life. Internecine warfare was the order of the day. There was no trust or interaction between different tribes.
12. Records dating back to 33 AD, during which Nongba Lairen Pakhangba, the first Meitei king existed refer to two Kuki Chiefs named Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba. Cheitharol Kumaba (Royal Chronicles of the Meitei Kings) notes, in the year 186 Sakabda (AD 264) Meidungu Taothingmang, a Kuki, became king. A letter to the editor of The Telegraph, which corroborates the authenticity of Kuki?s existence in their ancestral lands, is reproduced below:
The Telegraph, 17 January 1994
Letter to the Editor ? Reader, NP Rakung, Imphal
Mr S Horamwo?s letter contains an error (Too many Kukis? December 1)
The term ?Hao?, in fact, refers to all tribals in Manipur, and the term ?Naga? is never mentioned in the ?Pooyas? ? the ancient texts of the Meithis. The term Kuki however features prominently in the texts.
According to the ?Pooyas?, two Kuki Chiefs named Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba were allies to Nongba Lairen Pakhangba, the first historically recorded king of the Meithis, in the latter?s mobilisation for the throne in 33 AD. In fact, there are innumerable instances provided by the texts which show the Kukis were a salient part in the creation of the Manipur kingdom. Moreover, the Meithis are a sub-tribe of Chin-Kuki-Mizo ethinc groups, according to Linguistic Survey of India.
Hence, if the Kukis deserve to be thrown out of Manipur, an event the author doubtless endorses, the Nagas, who have been terrorising India for the last 40 years too merit a similar treatment.
Prof JN Phukan writes:
If we were to accept Ptolemy?s ?Tiladae? as the ?Kuki? people, as identified by Gerini, the settlement of the Kuki in North-East India would go back to a very long time in the past. As Professor Gangumei Kabui thinks, ?some Kuki tribes migrated to Manipur hills in the pre-historic times along with or after the Meitei advent in the Manipur valley (History of Manipur, p24).? This hypothesis will take us to the theory that the Kukis, for the matter, the Mizos, at least some of their tribes, had been living in North ?East India since the prehistoric time, and therefore, their early home must be sought in the hills of Manipur and the nearby areas rather than in Central China or the Yang-tze valley. This hypothesis needs a very serious study in the light of recent findings of pre-historic and proto-historic settlements in North-East India.
In spite of the indigenous historical facts, Muivah chooses to resort to accounts written by British officials, which begin only from the eighteenth-century. Kuki history cannot be confined to those accounts covering only the latter part of the last millennium; their history extends beyond those that exist in British records. Irrational as it is, British accounts referring to Nagas and Kukis, nonetheless seems to serve Muivah?s intentions to degrade Kuki, and hence he and his ilk?s continual reference, for instance, to McCulloch. McCulloch might have been responsible for resettling a small population of Kukis in certain parts of the hills of Manipur. In any case, those places were within Kuki domain, where the Tangkhuls paid tax and tributes to the Kuki chiefs.
It must be noted that the Kukis were a constant threat to the British. Movement of a particular Kuki population from one point to another was purely to safeguard the British from Kuki offences. In contrast, the British did not move the Tangkhuls from one region to another because they were loyal to them. It is ludicrous to suggest that McCulloch settled the entire Kuki population. Muivah should hereafter refrain from making the remark ?Kukis are nomadic?, which he has based on British accounts. It shows how shallow his knowledge is. The deeper we dig into history, the more it becomes clear that Tangkhuls are not indigenous to Manipur. They migrated, for instance, from Somra Tracts in Burma, where they still dwell.
13. Migration is a relative matter. It can only be applied contextually. Boundaries are created and can change over time, especially in the past. In this sense, waves of migrations, whether of Naga or Kuki, took place and perhaps continue to take place. A particular migration at a particular period cannot be the be-all and end-all of any ethnic group?s movement. It is conceivable, too, that not all Tangkhuls migrated in one wave. For example, the people of Bongpa Tangkhul village (which is the village Rishang Keishing comes from) were originally from the banks of the river Nathalit (Tizu) in the Somra Tract, in Burma. The chief of Chassad settled them in their present Bongpa village in Ukhrul. Phungyar is the constituency from which Mr Keishing was elected member of the Manipur Legislative Assembly. The original name of the village was Phaisat, a Kuki village. The Tangkhuls seized this village from the Kukis and named it Phungyar. The point of this example is that if Kukis are to be regarded as ?nomadic? or ?immigrants?, how should the Naga people?s movements be termed? If Tangkhuls were to take a rational view on the issue of ?migration?, it would go a long way in creating better understanding with Kukis. Maybe someday they will, and perhaps then they will realise that it is irrational to keep harping on about the Kuki community being nomadic. Otherwise, they risk the same measures being applied to them and also risk the eventuality of another dispute that could turn violent again.
14. The items of British colonial literature concerning Kuki are generally not complimentary. This is basically because Kuki opposed the British colonialists from the outset, the ?Kuki rising, 1917-1919? (OIOC) being the culminating event of the opposition. Nagas, in contrast, were often referred to as ?friendlies?. Perhaps this is why there are so many more books written on the Nagas, and not surprisingly very few written on Kuki.
15. Significant Kuki offences to protect their territory against the British invaders started in 1760s, during the time of Warren Hastings, Governor General of India. Carey and Tuck (1932) refer to an event that took place a hundred years on: ?the year 1860 saw the great Kuki invasion of Tipperah [Tripura], and the following year a large body of police marched to the hills to punish and avenge.? Of this war Col Elly (1893) wrote, ?in 1845, 1847-1848, 1849-1850, and 1850-1851 there were raids culminating in what is called the Great Kuki Invasion of 1860s?.?
16. In the twentieth-century, Kuki featured in both the World War theatres. The period of WW I marked a momentous Kuki offensive against the British, which is recorded as ?Kuki rising, 1917-1919?, and also referred to as ?Anglo-Kuki War, 1917-1919?. Shakespeare (1929), Palit (1984) and the recently released book Guardians of the North East (2003), record the event as ?Kuki Rebellion, 1917-1919?. A notable feature of this war is the fact that a relatively minor ethnic group withstood the might of the British imperialist power continuously for nearly three years. Kuki offensives against the British are a reflection of Kuki?s historicity, that they are indigenous people of what is understood as Northeast India, today, as well as parts of Northwest Burma and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The evidence of this historicity is embedded in the lineage of the Maharajahs of Tripura, who are Kuki, and as cited above (section 12), in that of the Ningthou?s of Manipur.
17. In WW II, Kuki sided with the Axis powers along with the Indian National Army. The Kukis fought this war to regain Zale?n-gam?s sovereignty from the British. During the war, Pakang, alias Japan Pakang, various Kuki leaders and many warriors actively participated with the Japanese in expeditions against the British. The late Jamthang Haokip has meticulously recorded the details of the expeditions. In total there are about one hundred and fifty (150) Kuki INA pensioners, as many as eighty are listed in Freedom Fighters of Manipur (1985).
18. A clarification concerning Kukis in Nagaland
The Kuki National Organisation explicitly states that issues concerning Kuki in Nagaland are separate from those related to Kuki in other parts, such as in present-day Manipur, Assam, Tripura and Burma. In a press release on 13 March 1994, the Kuki Inpi of Nagaland categorically stated that the Kukis of Nagaland are not a part of the Kuki movement that is taking place elsewhere. Muivah?s attempt to mix up Kuki politics, intended to whip up anti-Kuki sentiments in Nagaland, must be categorically ignored.
Hitherto, Muivah has to a significant extent managed to ride on the successes of Phizo?s Naga movement. For instance, attempting to gain credit for NSCN-IM on an exercise of humanitarian gesture that was demonstrated by Phizo, Muivah unashamedly refers to ?9 (nine) aircrew, of which 2 (two) were Air Force officers?, who were released unharmed. The event occurred during Phizo?s time. Squadron Leader Kartik, brother of the film actress Kalpana Kartik, and wife of actor Dev Anand, was one of the Indian Air Force officers. Kalpana Kartik went to London to meet Phizo, where he was in exile, to plea for her brother?s release by the NNC cadre. Moved by Madame Kartik?s entreaty, Phizo issued an order of pardon and the entire air force crew was set free. It is unthinkable that Muivah would be capable of exercising such humanitarian gesture, considering, for example, the fact that he had the husband of his present wife shot in cold blood so that he could marry her! Furthermore, by his order, on 9 May 1993, Major S (Pagin) Kipgen was assassinated by NSCN-IM in front of his wife and little daughter. To this day the cowardly Muivah has officially not admitted to ordering the assassination! This shows he is unscrupulous and does not uphold any revolutionary principle. That he has acted treacherously against the Nagas and Kukis is also a sign that he does not believe in the Naga emblem of ?Nagaland for Christ?. On the one hand, Muivah still uses the ?Nagaland for Christ? logo on the NSCN-IM letterhead. The threat letter sent to Major Kipgen before his assassination also is stamped with the same logo. Muivah?s contradictory actions can only be attributed to his pathological disposition to lie, and to the Maoist indoctrination he received during his stay in China, along with Isak.
19. Participation of Kukis in Nagaland
Kukis, as indigenous people in Nagaland, have from the outset participated actively in the pursuit of independence for Nagaland. Kukis were members of the Naga army much before Muivah appeared on the scene of Naga politics. For example, Pu Lengjang Kuki was a signatory of the memorandum submitted by the Naga Club to the Simon Commission in 1929. Kuki was one of the five tribes that formed the Naga Club in 1919, which later changed to Naga National Council. In 1946, Pu Seikhohen Kuki and Pu Jangkhosei Kuki (Ex-NPSC member) were elected as members of Naga National Council. NNC was the prime mover of Naga nationalism. The late Pu Seikhohen Kuki was also one of the selected members of the constitution Drafting Committee of NNC. He was also included in the first Naga Delegation that went to Delhi to meet Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, to discuss the issue of Naga Independence.
Participation of Kuki in the Naga Plebiscite held in 1951
The Naga Voluntary Plebiscite was completed on 16 May 1951. The Kukis in Nagaland participated in the plebiscite, voting in favour of Naga Independence. This marks Kuki?s unflinching support to the undisputed leadership of Phizo. The Kuki leaders of the time, many of whom have passed away, are Onpao Kuki (President, Kuki Union), Paochung Kuki (GB, Khaibung), Dr Lenzalal Kuki (Gaonbura, Bungsang, father of late Seikhohen Kuki) and several other Gaonburas. Indelible historical records exist to bear witness to Kukis? indigenous status in Nagaland.
Khaplang, leader of NSCN, has made the following observation (On Naga Hoho?s Naga Integration, dated 5 June 2002, p7):
Simon Commission: The 1929 memorandum submitted to Sir John Simon by the Naga and considered as another footstool of Nagas? right to political existence and Sovereignty had other Nagas but not the Tangkhuls. Had the Tangkhuls been Nagas then, what were these Tangkhuls doing then? The Kukis has been erashed to almost nothingness had the NSCN not been there but remember, Kukis were the main participants of this Commission. However, the Tangkhuls who have never been Nagas and immediately taking identity of a Naga and running criminalism against the Kukis is undeniably Terrorism. And, if the Kukis, the main participant can be deprived of Naga identity for the sake of Tangkhuls then, what about the Tangkhuls who never participated? Absolutely no to Tangkhuls.
Despite the cordial relationship that has prevailed between Kuki and Naga in Nagaland, Muivah has unremittingly pursued a racially motivated campaign to malign and discredit Kuki. Relevant to the history of Nagaland, Ms Adino, President Naga National Council (NNC) and daughter of Phizo, in an interview with , pointed out that Tangkhuls did not want to join the Naga movement, preferring to remain with Meitei in Manipur. On Naga Hoho?s Naga Integration (p12), too, it is clearly stated that the Tangkhuls were given the opportunity from 1964 to 1972 to join the union of Nagaland. However, in 1972 Rishang Keishing denounced such an idea as deplorable, and declared that Meiteis and Tangkhuls were brothers and that they were inseparable. Further to that, Mr Keishing, as a Chief Minister of Manipur, passed a Bill, which confirmed that not an inch of Manipur would be merged with Nagaland. Tangkhul is also referred to as the elder of Meitei (p8). All of these leads to the question: Why are Tangkhuls, both civilians and those who are members of Muivah?s NSCN faction, engaging in terrorist activities on Naga soil?
20. Muivah refers to the British motivated Meitei and Kuki expedition in Kohima. With regard to this incident, Muivah claims in the article ?KUKI AND THE NAGA PUBLIC CLASHES? that 3000 Nagas were slaughtered. That Muivah has a proclivity to lie and to exaggerate is also revealed in this instance: according to NSCN-IM publication Statement on Kuki Atrocities Against the Nagas, the alleged figure is 300. It was to guard against the divide-and-rule policy of the British, such as in the above episode, where Meitei and Kuki and Naga are together pitted against Naga, that the Angami Naga people and Kukis made a formal peace treaty. To formalise the treaty they drank zu (wine) from the barrel of a flintlock; and in a customary fashion of oath taking, they killed a dog, broke open its head and snapped the intestine. The symbolic significance of this was that whichever party broke the treaty would be cursed: they would die from the barrel of a gun, and their head smashed open and the intestine snapped like the dog. Friendship gifts like spears and guns were exchanged. The Kukis helped Khonoma, Samoa Khel, in their constructions of a fort called Semo-Kunda, which still stands today. The late Niu Lungalang (former IPS officer) also recalled that the Kukis gave the Khonoma people three indigenous made pumpi (canon made of bison hide).
In 1995 two Angami men from Khozuma village of Nagaland were persuaded by Tangkhuls to go and purchase buffalo from a Kuki village in Manipur. This was at a time when NSCN-IM was engaged in killing innocent Kuki villagers in great numbers. The Kuki villagers were unaware of the two men?s activity. However, when the people of Khozuma realised the two men had not returned they assumed Kukis had killed them. Consequently, in 1995 the Angami People?s Organisation (APO) served quit notice to the Kukis of Nagaland, the deadline being set for 25 July. At Delhi, on 24 July 1995, the Kuki Students Organisation went on a rally and presented a memorandum to the National Human Rights Commission, appealing for intervention. Fortunately, the intervention took place in the nick of time and the Angamis, realising foul play was involved, retracted the quit notice. The Kuki National Organisation are grateful to the Angami people for their timely discernment and positive action. The organisation also appreciates the role of Pu SC Jamir, former Chief Minister of Nagaland, in resolving the sensitive issue.
21. Relationship between Zeliang people and Kuki people
The Angamis did not welcome the Zeliang people, who arrived in Naga Hills from Assam. The Khonoma Angamis therefore assaulted the Zeliangs, raping their women while the men folk were made to stand nearby and bear the lighted torch. On the strength of their relationship, the Kuki chiefs dissuaded Angami from abusing Zeliang. It was this humanitarian intervention that enabled more Zeliang population to migrate from Assam and establish their settlement in Nagaland. In the 1950s, more Zeliangs arrived from Manipur. However, today, we experience a rather ungrateful attitude, which is also unsettling. Rather than show gratitude to Kukis, Zeliangs, have soiled their hands by joining Muivah and going on the rampage against Kuki, killing as many as 150 of them. That Zeliangs should treat the Kukis in such a manner is inconceivable. Muivah has managed to reduce the Zeliangs to such a dehumanized state that they are now capable of treating the Kukis this way. The Zeliangs also mercilessly burnt down 14 Kuki villages. To make matters worse, influenced by Muivah?s racist anti-Kuki ideology, their villages in Peren sub-division are subjected to a humiliating forced payment of Rs fifty, every five years, per village, in order to acknowledge the landownership of Zeliang!!! (Govt. Nagaland, NO.CON?7/86, countersigned by Wepretso Mero, Additional DC). This illegal act was carried out at gunpoint, and will not be countenanced by anybody. It will also be inadmissible in any court. If Zeliangs ever want to redeem their status a decent community, they must free themselves from Muivah?s manipulations.
22. In contrast to Phizo?s broad-minded Naga nationalism, mean-minded Tangkhuls, who share similar traits as Muivah, have exhibited a narrow outlook. This has primarily been because of their emotionally charged sense of vendetta against Kuki since 1950s. On 26 May 1987, Pakang Haokip of Maokot in Ukhrul District was assassinated by the NSCN-IM. Following this incident, the Kukis decided to form a Consultative Committee of Kuki Leaders (CCKL), on 4 July 1987. In order to raise awareness on the Kuki plight, the committee submitted a memorandum to Rishang Keishing, Chief Minister of Manipur, which included the list of 42 Kukis killed and 64 of their villages uprooted (see APPENDIX I). Needless to say, no concrete measures were taken up by the government to help the Kukis. The apathy of the government was followed by the onslaught against Kuki led by NSCN-IM from 1992-1997. As pointed out above, unable to bear the continued badgering, and the realization that government would not be able to provide protection, the Kukis started to fight back. This act of self-defence against the aggression of NSCN-IM, unfortunately was reported as ?conflict? between Kukis and Nagas. It must be reiterated that there is no ?ethnic conflict? or ?clashes? between Naga and Kuki; there is only aggression by the former and defence by the latter.
23. It is worth mentioning that Naga casualties (as a result of Kuki retaliation to Naga aggression) do not include women and children. This was owing to Kuki tradition to maintain honour in war. During the ?Kuki rising, 1917-1919?, at the Oktan durbars, Pu Tintong, C-in-C of Kuki army, strictly forbade his men to kill JC Higgins, the British political agent, who had gone to meet the Kukis in relation to recruitment for the Labour Corps. Pu Tintong is recorded to have remarked that it was against Kuki custom and a cowardly act, too, to behave like the Meitei people who in 1891 invited the British Chief Commissioner to their court for a meeting and killed him and his entourage in cold blood. The above list of Kuki casualties confirms that NSCN-IM, contrary to the claim of Muivah, was deliberately engaged in afflicting civilians. It is time for Muivah to try and exercise a degree of self-respect, and also try to serve his followers with some honour. He must therefore discontinue falsifying data and seek professional psychiatric help to try to overcome his pathological disposition to lie. Muivah alleges that various Indian newspapers have falsely accused him of committing many crimes. The evidence cited above are corroborated by the media in several Nagaland newspapers, such as Nagaland Post, Ura Mail, Naga Banner as well as in other local and national newspapers. Relatives of victims who have died at the hands of NSCN-IM- led Manipur Nagas are still alive to provide eyewitness accounts.
24. The Chingjaroi incident
The Chingjaroi episode has been repeatedly quoted to slander Kuki. Perhaps it is time to present the true picture of the incident, however embarrassing it may prove to be for Muivah. The background is as follows:
Tukei [Tukih] is a Kuki. His jol (jol was a form of close friendship that existed between Kuki and other ethnic groups, such as Tangkhul), a Tangkhul, was owed a certain amount of money by people in Chingjaroi Tangkhul village. Tukih?s jol went to Chingjaroi to collect the debt owed to him. Rather than repay the loan, the debtors decided to kill Tukih?s jol, and that too in a manner most gruesome: sliced pieces of his body flesh, including the heart and liver, was stuck onto his own spear and sent to his wife. Clearly, this was intended not only to avoid paying back the loan, but also to humiliate. Tukih, who was unaware of the incident, went to visit his jol. The distraught wife did not immediately reveal to Tukih what had happened. She acted normally and prepared a meal consisting of a dish of chicken and rice. When Tukih finished eating, she explained how her husband had been brutally murdered and showed him the spear with its contents. Tukih avenged his jol?s death, which was also requested by the wife. Lhungdim (1995, 159) writes about this event:
The infamous plunders committed by Pu Tukih Lupheng and Vumkhokai Haokip which were very much talked about did not come out as mere expeditions against villagers of Chingjaroi Tangkhul. It was rather an act of vengeance necessitated by the bond of friendship between Tangkhul and a Khungzai (Kuki) in those days.
Muivah also alleges other atrocities committed by Kuki. With reference to these please note the excerpt below (Lhungdim, 1995, 158-159), which will shed light on the subject matter and provide the relevant historical and political background of Naga and Kuki affairs:
Internecine wars among the Kabuis and the Tangkhuls led the Kuki warriors to come to the rescue of certain weaker sections among the Nagas in Ukhrul and Tamenglong divisions of Manipur. It was said in those days that had there been no Kuki intervention, the magnitude of human lives toll on account of the internecine wars among the Naga groups of people, could have been much heavier than that was actually seen among Naga villages. The ill-conceived view that the Kukis ware exploiting a section of the Tangkhuls along the Bongpa areas up to the level of slavery as wrongly given vent to by some vested politicians in Manipur hill areas cannot but be denied inasmuch as the role of the Kuki chiefs had all along been one of mediation and intervention only for the sake of preventing further loss of lives. One Kuki patriarch, Pu Haokhohem Haokip, who died at the age of 100 years or so in 1967, said that they (Kukis) had no desire to poke their nose in the wars among some sections of Tangkhuls, but it was only after much lobbying and cajoling that they used to intervene in the inter-village wars towards the end of the 19th century in Ukhrul areas. Pu Nehlam Kuki, chief of Chassad, was said to have saved many Tangkhul lives from the clutches of the other Tangkhul clans who were of diverse linguistic groups, having no common bond of kinship till the onset of the first half of the 20th century.
25. As stated above, prior to the advent of the British colonialists in Zale?n-gam, the Kuki chiefs accommodated the Tangkhuls and Kabuis, from whom they received tax and tributes. During the ?Kuki rising, 1917-1919?, people of Khotum Kuki village and Akhui Naga village performed a ceremonial feast to seal an agreement to fight against the British. In the meantime, Tintong Haokip, C-in-C Kuki army and Enjakhup Kholhou, Dy C-in-C, were away in Naga Hills to make a similar agreement with Angami Naga people of Khonoma village and to encourage the Kuki freedom fighters. While they were away, the Akhui Nagas reneged on the agreement they made with Khotum Kuki. With the help of a few surrounding Naga village people the Akhui Nagas attacked Natjang Kuki village, killing all of its inhabitants, except for a father and son who were away from the village. Upon their return from Naga Hills, Tintong and Enjakhup razed three Kabui Naga villages in retaliation, not ten ?Zeliangrong villages? as exaggerated by Muivah. The names of the three Kabui villages are Natop, Khungakhun and Chaloi.
26. Muivah alleges the Indian armed forces support to the Kuki National Army. Consider the following to ascertain the facts that reveal support rendered to NSCN-IM: At the height of NSCN-IM-led genocidal activities against Kuki, Rishang Keishing, a Tangkhul, was Deputy Chief Minister of the Government of Manipur. Lt General (Retd) VK Nayar, the Governor of Manipur, was the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the states of Nagaland and Manipur. He had successfully brought under control insurgency activities in the two states (Hindustan Times, 23 September 1993). The Governor submitted a report to the Government of India regarding Mr Keishing?s nexus with the NSCN-IM. Singh (1996) wrote in an article Is Keishing backing Naga movement? ?On Oct 5, 1993, Gen Nayar had written a confidential letter to the President of India in which he had alleged that Keishing was ?aiding and abetting? the NSCN (I-M) in order to ?subvert the Government machinery and the police.??
Singh (1996) also refers to an alleged letter addressed to Mr Keishing, Chief Minister of Manipur, sent by the Government of People?s Republic of a Nagaland (CPRN), stating that the organization had received a sum of 25 lakhs from the CM ?toward our national movement for Shepoumaramth region.? ?The letter, a copy of which is in possession of ?The Hindustan Times,? is signed by one K. Maikho Pao, ?Revenue Officer? of GPRN, and is apparently written on the letterhead of that organization.?
Following the news report and disclosure, curiously, rather than Mr Keishing being apprehended, Gen Nayar was removed as a punishment from his Governorship of Manipur before his tenure was completed. On the other hand, rather astonishingly, Mr Keishing was promoted from Dy Chief Minister and installed as Chief Minister of Manipur. During this period Indian security forces were deployed strategically in the war torn hills of Manipur to favour the Naga villages. Furthermore, at this critical juncture, Prof Meijinlung Kamson, MP, a Kabui Naga, was given the sensitive portfolio Minister of State for Home Affairs. It is a known fact that Prof Kamson was a crony of the Mr Keishing, CM.
The same letter to Mr Keishing from GPRN cited above also states: ?On the same we are standing (Sic) on our earlier commitment to give our full support to the candidature of Prof Meijinlung Kamson for the forthcoming Parliamentary elections.?
The Manipur Legislative Assembly addressed the issue of the uniform scandal: Ngaraipam, a Tangkhul, CO, 2nd Manipur Rifles, was involved in channeling uniform worth rupees 35 lakhs to NSCN-IM. Vigilance case was also registered against the CO.
In the state of Nagaland, too, the situation was not different: The Times of India, 24 February 1995 reported:
In Nagaland, the NSCN-IM have openly set up camps in villages, confident that they have nothing to fear from the Indian security forces. Says Shri Sebi, headman of Khonoma village, in Angami territory, ?NSCN factions and the India Army see each other, and do not fight. The NSCN people are in our village. We asked them to leave. We do not want to get in trouble with the Army, who will torture us. They said ?No, the Army will not come when we are here.? Why is the Army not chasing the NSCN, when earlier they lost no chance to hound the Naga National Army (Phizo group)? We ask these questions, does the government want the NSCN to be strong? How have they become so powerful??
Following all of these sordid events, from 1997, the Government of India chose to sign a ceasefire with NSCN-IM, completely leaving aside Kukis. Given the prevailing circumstances, one has to beg the question: Who is backing whom?
The above points show the historical position of Kukis in relationship to their ancestral lands. NSCN-IM, a terrorists group, has aggressed upon Kukis and their land. In the process there have been scores of Kuki casualties. In other words, the victims deprived of land, those who have been killed, not to mention other abuses of their human rights, have been categorically ignored. In spite of the deluge of evidence that Muivah & Isak have engaged in genocidal activities, the Government of India is talking to them rather than with Kukis. The signal being sent out by this act of Government suggests, reward the aggressor and ignore the victim. This attitude has encouraged NSCN-IM to become more confident and make assertions, such as not having killed innocent people, not being guilty of committing acts of terrorism, etc and the absurd allegation that KNA and Indian security forces have worked together.
The NSCN-IM cannot hold talks with the Government of India concerning Kuki land. The facts regarding ownership of land is that Kukis possess legal rights, which is indisputable. The Tangkhuls have engaged in a systematic elimination of Kuki chiefs since the 1950s to dispossess Kukis of their rights.
Muivah should be tried by a tribunal, and declared a terrorist, rather than entertain his outrageous demands and legitimize him as a leader. The Government of India must deal with NSCN-IM leadership as terrorists, not as legal entities of an organisation. The Government must also prove that contrary to Muivah?s claim, the NSCN-IM have killed thousands of innocent people, and that his organization is definitely a terrorist group. To confirm this, the Government should also call NSCN-IM?s bluff and actually send a fact-finding mission to Manipur. This will satisfy not only the Kukis, but also every self-respecting human being who are concerned about human rights issues. The Kukis are prepared to produce concrete evidence of NSCN-IM?s brutal murders and other material, such as photographs, mass graves (where it was impossible to have individual burials), bones of those hacked to pieces, fabricated videos, as evidence.
The Kuki National Organisation hopes justice will be done.
Kuki National Organisation
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