Other States

Manipur on high alert over tensions among some tribes

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren.

Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren.   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Sentiments behind centenary function for ‘Anglo Kuki War’ lead to trouble

With tensions mounting among some tribes, the Manipur government has alerted all police stations and camps of paramilitary forces. Central forces are also in readiness to cope with any situation. There is genuine fear among the people, and in some government circles, that there may be a repeat of the bloody ethnic cleansing Manipur witnessed in 1992-93.

Strong exception

The Kukis in the State had set the ball rolling by deciding to celebrate the centenary function of the ‘Anglo Kuki War’ fought in 1919. Naga organisations like the United Naga Council and the All Naga Students’ Association Manipur maintain that they had no objection to the celebration. However, the Nagas took strong exception when the Kukis decided to erect stone pillars with the inscription ‘the ancestral land of the Kukis’.

The government has asked Kuki organisations to delete the words from the stone pillars, which are to be erected in most of the Kuki-populated mountain districts, but the appeal fell on deaf ears. At many places, Kuki women are guarding the stone pillars round the clock, fearful that they may be destroyed.

‘Remove words’

Manipur Chief Secretary Suresh Babu said, “The words should be removed as these may hurt the sentiment of other communities.”

Manipur Chief Minister N.Biren said in a function in the Ukhrul district on Wednesday that he was holding talks with all stakeholders to sort out the impasse. Asserting that there was “no tension” over the issue, he said that his government shall not permit any community to hurt the sentiments of others.

Some tribal intellectuals have urged Mr. Biren to not go to the Kuki function, slated for Thursday, for the erection of the stone pillar. They said, “If a Chief Minister endorses the claim, it will be an unfortunate mistake for posterity.”

‘History fabricated’

S. Jadumani, president of the Federation of the Haomis, said that history was being fabricated. “The majority community, the Meiteis, are blood relations of the Kukis, as their kings had married some Kuki girls. The ‘history’ further claims that the Tangkhuls, a major tribe in Manipur, are ‘foreigners’. These distortions should be looked into,” he said.

Chief Minister N. Biren, who has had talks with some sections of the tribes, merely said, “The land belongs to the governments of Manipur and India. Some organisations that have been claiming the land as their own should stop doing so.” The stakeholders have so far not been taken into confidence.

J. Haokip, chairman of the Anglo Kuki War Memorial Committee said, “We are merely remembering the contributions of our forefathers on the occasion of the 100th anniversary [of the ‘Anglo Kuki War’].” He further said that the State had remained silent to the “divisive and provocative” inscriptions of the words.

Naga intellectuals point out that this event was not a war but merely “a rebellion by some persons” in a struggle for power. One person from the royal family had engaged some Kuki mercenaries to defeat his elder brother, who was the king; he had promised to reduce the house tax from ₹3 to ₹1.

Khaimang Chongloi, president of Kuki Inpi Manipur, the highest Kuki decision-making body said, “Through this celebration, we are paying tributes to our forefathers.”

1993 massacre

During the ethnic cleansing in Manipur in 1992-93, over one thousand innocent persons, including women and children, were killed, and over 700 villages burnt to cinders.

The most blood chilling massacre took place on September 13, 1993 in the Joupi and Janglaphai villages, where armed persons torched entire villages a day ahead of the deadline to leave them. Altogether 87 fleeing men, women and children were massacred using sophisticated guns. Tribal villages were raided in some other remote districts. The hands of some women were chopped and they were left to bleed to death in these hard-to-access villages.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 10:12:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/manipur-on-high-alert-over-tensions-among-some-tribes/article29719770.ece

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