An umbrella body of Imphal Valley-based civil society organisations has asked the European Parliament not to let Manipur become the “new Golden Triangle” of drug trade by projecting the violence between what it called “immigrant Chin-Kuki narco-terrorists” and indigenous Meitei people in the State as a religious conflict.
The Golden Triangle refers to one of the biggest poppy-growing and drug-trafficking corridors in the world straddling China, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand.
The Kukis, a group of tribes, are the third largest community in Manipur after the non-tribal Meiteis and the tribal Nagas. The ethnically-related Chins are primarily from Myanmar, many of whom have allegedly settled down illegally in Manipur over the decades.
In a letter to Roberta Metsola, the president of the Strasbourg-based EP on July 23, the Coordinating Committee on Manipur Integrity (COCOMI) rejected the opinion of the members of the EU, it said was derived from a web of lies fed by vested interest groups batting for the narco-terrorists.
The COCOMI lauded the EP for passing the first-ever resolution on Manipur, which it said was significant in view of the “deafening silence” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the ongoing violence in the State.
“However, it is regrettable to note that the core issue of narco-terrorism, which is fuelling the conflict, seems to have been omitted from the resolution you have adopted. Your resolutions were guided by a wrong and misleading perspective which made you arrive at a flawed understanding of the issue in Manipur as a conflict between Christian minority and majority Meetei Hindu,” COCOMI coordinator Jeetendra Ningomba wrote.
There is no religious angle to the violence in Manipur that erupted on May 3 between immigrant Chin-Kuki narco-terrorist groups and the indigenous Meitei community, he said.
“Hundreds of churches belonging to about 25 ethnic communities are still standing tall and performing their services in the heart of the Meetei (Meitei)-dominated areas including the capital city Imphal. Many Christian ethnic communities except Chin-Kuki groups are still settled in Imphal and other Meetei-dominated areas and living together in harmony,” Mr Ningomba said.
The COCOMI claimed that 1.7 lakh Meitei people follow Christianity, which is 35% of the total Kuki Christian population in Manipur and that 100% of the Meiteis, including Christians, have been ethnically cleansed from the Christian Chin-Kuki-dominated areas in districts such as Churachandpur and Kangpokpi.
Claiming that narco-terrorism riding the Chin-Kuki immigrants has had a significant impact on the polity and harmony in Manipur, the COCOMI said the acknowledgement of narco-terrorists in the ongoing conflict in the EP resolution would have provided a more comprehensive understanding of the challenges we face in the India-Myanmar borderlands.
Citing reports from Indian intelligence agencies, the organisation said narco-terrorists belonging primarily to the Christian Chin-Kuki tribes have established a ₹500-650 billion economy inside Manipur by illegally occupying and converting 1,25,000 acres of forest areas. The drug cartels across the India-Myanmar border have also set up armed groups to run the illegal business, it said.
Urging Ms. Metsola to consider the concerns of Manipur’s indigenous people, Mr. Ningomba hoped the European Union would live up to its responsibility and “play a non-partisan” active role in resolving the ongoing crisis and not let a new Golden Triangle emerge in the region”, particularly in Manipur.