NSCN-IM reacts to Kuki Inpi & Kuki Human Rights memo to PM

DIMAPUR, Sept 12: On the eve of the Kukis in Manipur observing their ‘Black Day’, the NSCN-IM has reacted strongly to the memorandum of the Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) and Kuki Organization for Human Rights (KOHR) submitted to the Prime Minister of India two, months ago. The NSCN-IM said that while totally forgetting the history of being nomads in existence in Manipur and elsewhere, the Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM), in order to play ‘a holier than thou’ politics against the Nagas with the venomous idea of sabotaging the Indo-Naga political negotiations, has been ferociously submitting representations of malice and prejudice to the Indian Prime Ministers, the latest being to Dr. Manmohan Singh, on July 31, 2013, “urging him to deliver justice to the 900 Kukis killed, 360 villages uprooted, and one lakh people made refugees by the NSCN-IM in the 1990s before any possible agreement is made with the Naga outfit” as reported by Huiyen News Service/NNN.

In the KIM memorandum it was mentioned, “This problem, the KIM’s memorandum said can be amicably settled in a proper court of law in order to have peace and justice and to bring about law and order”. “If it is so, the last rite of those 900 innocent people murdered could be performed, according to the Kukis’ traditional practice of the burial rite, and over two decades mourning come to a close”. KIM’s memorandum continues, “Without settlement, the age old Kuki customary law of burial rite cannot be performed and therefore, the Government of India is repeatedly requested to settle the matter of Kukis killed before any agreement made with the culprits”. The memorandum stated that “Kukis are the people who stood firmly for all indigenous people of the present so called North East India against the British might, and saved the whole land by sacrificing thousands of lives and many leaders imprisoned in several prisons in India and abroad”. “Kukis hate violence of any form but want peace restored by means of the law of the country” stated in KIM’s memorandum.

Reacting to this, the NSCN-IM said today, “From the KIM’s memorandum, it is crystal clear that the Kuki-Naga conflict of 1990s was the only recorded conflict history of Manipur between these two communities. However, KIM can never run away from the truth of history of how Kukis were used by the Britishers and Meitei Maharajas to forcibly enter/migrate into the Naga territory for invasion projects. KIM is reminded of the fact of the history that Nagas have no business to fight against the Kukis because there were no Kukis in the present Naga areas in Manipur until Nagas were attacked, terrorised and forcibly penetrated into Naga territory during 1834-1878. KIM is advised to refer to a remark by Revd. F.S. Downs in his book: ‘The Mighty Works of God’ wherein Downs rightly remarked that, ‘Conflict between these two groups had begun when the nomadic Kuki people began to move into an area which the Nagas regarded as exclusively theirs. History has it on record that the Kukis attacked Chingsui (Chingsoo) village in 1880, Phungcham village in 1884, Chingjaroi village in 1895, Somra Tangkhul village in 1909, Anal Naga village in 1917 and Awang Kasom also known as Ngahui and Shangshak village in 1919,”.

Quoting Alexander Mackenzie’s book that said, ‘The North-East Frontiers of India’(p.205) documented that, “On the 17th of February, 1880; Chingsoo Tangkhul village was attacked by Chassad Kuki led by its chief Tonghoo, with 50 muskets destroying the entire village. 20 men, 7 boys and 25 women were killed. 1 man, 1 girl and 1 woman were taken captive”. Annoyed by the Kuki Rebellion of 1917-1919 and its savagery, all the rebel leaders were arrested and rebellion was finally suppressed by the British on December 19, 1919. Unaccountable Naga people have been killed by the Kuki marauders and mercenary of the British. So, it is clear from the above facts that the Nagas have never started the conflict. Rather, it was always the Kukis who have started the conflict in history of the relationship between the Kukis and the Nagas then and now. It is now clear that Kukis have mastered the art of manipulating and exploiting the difficult situation of Nagas by taking favour from the British Empire in the past and now with the Indian state.

“The Kuki settlement in the Naga territory either by means of intimidation or persuasion was definitely made conditional and all a temporary accommodation.” They have to pay Lousal Lampan to the Chiefs of the Naga villages where they settle. The Herald, a Weekly newspaper published in Calcutta on 3rd September 1993, under the caption ‘Insurgency in Manipur Critical’ wrote, “When the Kukis settled in the Hills of Manipur from the Chin Hills of Myanmar during 1830-1846, they agreed to pay a loyal land tax to the Naga Chief…”. “Default of mutual agreement was never tolerated by the Naga Chiefs” according to a book ‘The Outrageous Political Drama in Manipur’.

The NSCN-IM then advised KIM to go through the book ‘Manipur and the Naga Hills written by Maj. Gen. Sir James Johnstone, the Political Agent of Manipur wherein he clarified that, “The Kukis are wandering race consisting of several tribes who have long been walking up from the south. They were first heard of as Kukis in Manipur during 1830-1840”. T.C. Hodson, the 1st Political Agent of Manipur in his book ‘The Naga Tribes of Manipur’ wrote, “We are like the birds of the air, said a Kuki to me once, we made our nest here this year and who knows where we shall build next year”. So, in short, KIM should know that Kuki-Naga conflict is a case of infringement into the land of the Nagas by the Kukis. It is a case of tenant’s outrage to become the land-owner. Nagas are well aware of the fact that Kukis do not have their own original homeland. There was no such thing as Kuki homeland in the history. “It was in 1840s when Mc Chulloch the British political agent who initiated a systematic policy by bringing in a large number of Kukis in the Naga Hills loaded with British firearms and ration to subdue the Nagas resistance against the mighty British Empire. Within a short period of time thousands of more Kukis were planted in the Naga Hills. The demand to establish a Kuki homeland is a recent phenomenon and that is also within the Naga territory. No Naga will fall prey to such kind of hallucinating proposition in any way. KIM should know that the consent of the Nagas is quintessential for any tribes or communities if they have to live peacefully in Naga areas,” the NSCN-IM stated.

According to the NSCN-IM’s statement, KIM’s strategies of implicating the NSCN-IM regarding the “Kuki-Naga clash” of 1990s are a sham “because the NSCN has nothing to do with the incidents that had occurred”.

“Had NSCN been involved in such crisis, the outcome would have been a different story,” the NSCN-IM stated. It then said KIM’s prayer to Dr. Manmohan Singh to settle the problem in the Indian Court for peace and justice and to bring about law and order does not make any sense to NSCN-IM “because NSCN is not bound by the Indian Court.” The NSCN-IM then said the Naga outfit does not stop the KIM to have their traditional last burial rite of those died in the clash.

“NSCN is not fighting against the Kukis or the Meiteis or the Assamese in any sense of the terms. Nagas have been struggling to achieve the right to self-determination of the people for their historical and Political rights which are unique and distinct. NSCN do not solicit unnecessary intervention into its own business of doing Naga National Politics. Last but not the least, the initiative of KIM and Kuki Organisation for Human Rights to commemorate the 13th of September as a Black Day in Kuki places is not moving in the right direction towards establishing a friendly and cordial relationship among various nationalities and communities of the region,” the Naga outfit pointed out. It then said Kuki leaders and some church leaders have gone too far instigating the Kuki youth and maligning the image of Naga political organization in India and abroad. Patience has its own limit and it is not in the interest of any party to repeat what is not wanted. “Nagas are peace loving people but when organization like KIM repeatedly continues to harbour hatred and sow enmity between Nagas and Kukis then KIM shall be held responsible for any unwanted fallout again,” the NSCN-IM cautions. The Hornbill Express

The search for Kukiland

NTIMES 18Dec: The search for Kukiland
By Yambem Laba

“It was around this time that one of the most prominent Kuki politicians of Manipur, former minister and member of Parliament, Holkhomang Haokip, had said that “we will achieve Kukiland only in heaven”, ridiculing the idea of a “Kukiland on earth”. The KNF did not take this too kindly and threatened to kill him”

“… the time when present health minister and Paite leader Phunzathang Tonsing, who was then MPCC-I president, stated “Paites are not Kukis” and the Gangtes identified themselves as a Mizo tribe to distance themselves from both the groups”

The credit for raising the demand for a Kukiland or a Kuki state to be carved out of Manipur, does not belong to the Kukiland State Demand Committee or its armed wing, the Kuki National Organisation. It belongs to an almost unknown Kuki by the name of Hengkhulen Sithlou who had held the nondescript post of headmaster of Motbung High School in the Sadar Hills area of Senapati district. In 1970, he was said to have received the blessings of then Lieutenant-Governor of Manipur D R Kohli.

In the early 1990s, one Nehlun Kipgen trekked to the headquarters of the Kachin Independent Army in Myanmar, armed with a letter signed by the late Dengkhosai Gangte, who had earlier led a contingent of the Mizo National Front to China via Kachin, asking for the arms he had left behind to be handed over to Nelhun.

Nelhun returned to his home in the Kangpokpi area and formed the Kuki National Front. Its primary job then was to meet the threats posed by the NSCN(IM) which had, since June 1992, launched an ethnic-cleansing campaign, wiping out Kukis from their pockets in the Naga areas. But the KNF also had a clear political agenda and that was the creation of a Kukiland, so much so that then chief minister of Manipur R K Dorendra in his last press interview to The Statesman, had reiterated that “there can be no further balkanisation of Manipur and there cannot be a Southern Nagaland or a Kukiland either”.

Nehlun was killed in an encounter with the CRPF in the Kangpokpi area and the KNF splintered into factions, with the KNF (Military Council), said to have been under the control of a prominent Manipuri Kuki politician, coming to the fore. Apart from occasional arms snatching from demoralised Manipur Rifles personnel, nothing much was heard about the KNF till it got involved in the ethnic war with a cognate tribe, the Paites, rechristened Zomis, in Churachandpur district.

Around the time the KNF was formed, the KNO also came into being, not in Manipur but in Myanmar. Founded by a man called Hanglen, its primary political objective was the creation of a Kuki state in Myanmar, and not in Manipur. Around 1990, Hanglen was given sanctuary in Moreh by Kuki politicians in the RK Ranbir Singh ministry. Moreh, the border town, at that time was under NSCN(IM) control, and was a rich source of income. The entry of yet another armed group in the area was bound to create tension as both started vying for a share of the loot.

Then on 3 June 1992, Onkholet Haokip, said to be a KNO cadre, was captured and shot dead by the NSCN(IM) in Moreh. That was the spark that led to a fullscale war between the NSCN(IM) and the KNO and the former was forced to surrender Moreh. The latter, with its Kuki National Army, came to be looked upon by the Kukis of Chandel district as a saviour from the onslaught of the NSCN(IM).

It was also generally believed that the Indian Army was backing the KNO in the fight against the NSCN(IM) and it coincided with the statement by Hanglen that he had been to Delhi and had met General Rodrigues, then Indian Army Chief. The Research and Analysis Wing was also believed to have pumped in a crore or two of rupees to boost the KNO coffers.

Then Hanglen got killed by his cadres in Moreh itself and the KNO shifted its tactical headquarters to Imphal. In 1996, the outfit made a paradigm shift in its political agenda and its leadership was taken over by P S Haokip, who is believed to have been born in Nagaland. In a communiqué to the Indian Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, dated 3 December 1996, Haokip categorically stated that the government of India must not treat the Nagas as the sole owners of the hills of Manipur, the interest of the Kukis must be safeguarded and “the Kuki aspirations and demands for an enclave, be it in whatever form — a statehood or a protectorate country, still stands”. A copy of this communiqué was made available to The Statesman by one T Antone Haokip, director of information and publicity of the KNO on the official letterhead of the Provisional Government of Kukigam (Kukiland) dated 20 August 1997.

It was around this time that one of the most prominent Kuki politicians of Manipur, former minister and member of Parliament, Holkhomang Haokip, had said that “we will achieve Kukiland only in heaven”, ridiculing the idea of a “Kukiland on earth”. The KNF did not take this too kindly and threatened to kill him.

He still has not changed his stance. Speaking to The Statesman recently, he said that “as good Christians we Kukis must know we are all passers-by on earth and our true home is in heaven”. But then he had this to say about Manipur chief minister Ibobi Singh, “The Nagas are angry with him and now the Kukis are also going to get angry with him… what is the harm in talking, as talking does not mean that you are going to give in to the demands”.

The irony of the demand for Kukiland now lies in the fact that the KNF, the original vocal propagator of the idea, is now with the United People’s Front, the other umbrella organisation of the Kuki-Zomi militants, that is now observing a Suspension of Operations with the Centre and the state.The UPF has categorically stated that it does do not back the idea of a separate Kuki state to be carved out of Manipur, while the KNO, which has since emerged as the other umbrella organisation of Kuki militants and which has also signed an SoO, has openly backed the demand for the creation of a state for Kukis, so much so that it recently declined to sign an extension of the SoO agreement, arguing that the Centre must give it in writing that political dialogue would commence soon following which they would be prepared to sign an extension for three months, and not a year, like the UPF.

The latter’s standpoint is for an autonomous Kuki administration within Manipur, somewhat akin to the Bodoland Territorial Council in Assam. But political rhetoric apart, tribe and clan dynamics account for a lot regarding the actions of the Kuki and Zomi revolutionary groups. It is believed that particular clans of the Kuki-Thadou tribe would have an armed group which, in turn, would have a Kuki politician backing it, or vice-versa. Even one group, the United Kuki Liberation Front, is said to have been propped up by their arch enemy, the NSCN(IM). Then there is the great Kuki-Paite divide as witnessed in the fratricidal killings in Churachandpur in 1996-1997, which was also the time when present health minister and Paite leader Phunzathang Tonsing, who was then MPCC-I president, stated “Paites are not Kukis” and the Gangtes identified themselves as a Mizo tribe to distance themselves from both the groups.

Central to the demand for a Kukiland lies the motive of historical revenge on the Nagas, according to social scientist Homen Thangjam. He told The Statesman that the message was that the Nagas could not and should not hope for a political solution to their problem bypassing the Kukis, meaning the reality of Kuki pockets in Naga areas. Observers have, however, said that given the fact that the Kukis have not been able to convert the Kuki-dominated Sadar Hills area into a full-fledged revenue entity in view of the opposition from the Nagas, contending that the Sadar Hills formed an integral part of Senapati district, which is primarily a Naga district. The idea of a Kuki state comprising areas covering Ukhrul, Senapati, Tamenglong and Chandel districts, which the Nagas are claiming to be part of their Greater Nagalim or land, seems far fetched under the present circumstances, the observer added.

It was also said that at the height of the Naga-Kuki ethnic killings, “both sides were mad but the Nagas have a method in their madness, the Kukis have none”. Manipur at the moment seems headed for yet another period of uncertainty, with more blockades and bandhs in the offing. Source: IFP

KNO slams NSCN (IM)’s statement

Imphal, November 30 2012: The Kuki National Organization has slammed the NSCN (IM)’s statement over Kuki demands for Kuki rights and territory to be recognized.

The KNO said the organisation finds it unfortunate that the NSCN-IM should choose to stick to its brand of baseless propaganda in its pursuit of exclusivist and communal agenda of grabbing land rights of politically less organized neighbours, including the Kuki community. It stated that the KNO would like to place on record that its claims on traditional Kuki territory is in fact a sacrificial and compromised claim in recognition of present-day demographic distribution aimed at communal harmony and mutually dignified peaceful co-existence.

“In this context, it is pertinent to mention that in the pre-British era present-day Tamenglong, for example, was the chiefdom of Kuki legendary resistance leaders, Pu Tintong, chief of Laijang and Pu Khotinthang, chief of Jampi. “At the time, Tamenglong was known as Laijang. The present-day inhabitants, who belong to the Zeliangrong community, were vassals in the court of Pu Tintong of Laijang and Jampi. “Likewise, the present-day inhabitants of Ukhrul were vassals of Pu Pache, the great Kuki chief of Chassad and Pu Chengjapao, chief of Aisan.

“However, since the present demographic pattern shows the once vassal community in majority in the existing districts, which originated as sub-divisions by design of British colonialists to suppress their enemy, the Kukis, today, we find it reasonable and so generously have decided not to claim the entire territory, which do not include 350 villages (such as Joupi), uprooted by NSCN-IM from 1992-1997, but limit it to areas where Kuki villages live in peace,” the KNO recalled.

“The accusation of the NSCN-IM that the Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) circulated a fake Memorandum of Understanding between KNO and NSCN-IM is false. However, KNO would like to place on record the background to the development of the MoU that when Th Muivah, general secretary of NSCN-IM wanted to go to his birth place, Somdal, VS Atem requested TS Haokip, defence secretary of KNO to facilitate the process as from this stage on Nagas and Meiteis were going to be at loggerheads. NSCN-IM also sent members of Naga Students Federation (NSF) to Aizawl to meet members of the Young Mizo Association (YMA) to request Kukis in Manipur, the Mizo people‘s brethren’s support.

YMA, in response asked the NSF delegation to speak directly to the Kukis. Following this advice, the NSF group met a Kuki gentleman in Aizawl, who in turn spoke to PS Haokip, president KNO. The president replied that should NSCN-IM want mutual support at any given time, a sound basis for a positive and healthy relationship needs to be established. KNO would not ask compensation for the 900 Kukis killed by NSCN-IM from 1992-1997, but would propose a territorial understanding. Hence, only was born the idea of the MoU in question specifically as a proposal. Should the proposal lack acceptance from NSCN-IM, there is no alternative for a mutual relationship,” the KNO stated today.

The proposed MoU has no connection with the stand of KSDC. KSDC’s stand is based on the land of the Kukis for which our chieftains possess pattas, legal land ownership rights. Ownership of traditional lands by Kukis pre-dates 33 AD, when the first Meitei king Chothe Thangvai Pakhangba’s coronation. As stated in the Meitei Pooyas, two Kuki chiefs Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba helped Pakhangba’s mobilisation to the throne, the KNO claimed. The KNO then stated that the proposed Memorandum had indeed been authored and given to the NSCN-IM leadership for consideration and in the spirit of amicable and mutually dignified settlement of contentious issues between the two neighbouring communities and cooperation in the march towards welfare of the two peoples.

That the NSCN-IM, based on irresponsible press reports should accuse the KNO of claiming the Memorandum as having been signed is unfortunate and unexpected from an organization of their stature, it said. The KNO would also like to place on record that the KNO is never against the aspirations of the Naga people as long as such aspirations do not infringe on the rights of the Kuki people. At the same time, the KNO will not tolerate any attempt by the NSCN (IM) to forcibly include Kuki inhabited traditional areas into any form of Naga administrative entity, primarily because of the antagonistic and ethno-exclusivist chauvinism of the NSCN-IM ideology, which was manifest in the Kuki genocide that the organization orchestrated between 1992 to 1997 .

The KNO also hereby offers free advice to the NSCN-IM leadership to refrain from the shallow and shameful manoeuvre of using captive Kukis in the name of Kuki Tribal Union (KTU) to blow the trumpet on their behalf, because the KNO would like to maintain some respectability for the NSCN-IM as a long standing revolutionary organization.

Finally, the KNO appeals to the Naga people not to be led by the NSCN-IM onto the path of hatred, but to bring sense into the leadership of the NSCN-IM to change track and reciprocate KNO’s sincere overtures for dignified mutual relations and cooperation between the two peoples towards protecting our tribal rights and heritage in the face of neo-colonial threats, towards peace and development for our peoples who have been denied and deprived by people who have no right to meddle in our affairs. TSE/NNN