No More Rhetoric on Kuki Nationalism

Published on November 11, 2010

By Joel Mangboi Haokip

As a teenager, growing up in a scenic beauty of our land called Kukiland, I remember my heart swelling up with pride when I went through the history of our great grandfathers, who courageously resisted the mighty Britishers from occupying their land.

Now, looking back at my life over the last two decades, I begin to wonder as to how any sane person could believe in such narrow nationalism.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that life and dignity of Kukis have lost meaning. There seems to be no end to the vicious plan of what can easily be termed as factional killings, allegations and counter-allegations amongst the Kuki underground groups beginning in the late 1990s and even after signing the Suspension of Operation (SoO) with the Indian central government and the Manipur state government since 2005.

Take the case of the latest stand-off between the combined team of KRA and KLA with KNF in Sadar Hills. Such factional hunting among the warring opponents leaves not only fear psychosis and insecurity to the common people but many have also lost their precious lives and properties so far. The saddest part is that the ghost of the brutality of the NSCN (IM) in the 1990s and the Manipur valley-based underground groups in the recent past has still yet to diminish from the victims mind.

Needless to say, it is now apparent that if we were asked to share our takes on underground groups, I guess majority of the people would have branded them as a serious problem rather than a voice for social justice. On the other hand, there is a section of society who thinks undergrounds are a social movement against the rampant social exclusions of the have-nots.

It is the fight of the poor, discriminated, and the marginalized masses for social justice and basic rights to natural resources. This debate needs a better understanding of the sensitive and delicate subject which could be resolved only through fear-free questions and some fair-frank answers. For example, is undergrounds a problem or is it the consequence of social and spatial disparity?

Use of arms is no sign of a revolutionary, and this was stated by many great revolutionaries like Gandhi, Karl Marx, Engels, Lenin, Martin Luther, Nelson Mandela, Bhagat Singh etc. In a country like India, the armed forces respect the constitutional system and election results, and do not interfere in politics.

This factor is most favorable for democratic and people’s movement. But most of the undergrounds, by their thoughtless actions, are only inviting and strengthening the armed forces and the state apparatus. This is a most senseless attitude, which only helps the reactionary and imperialist forces.

As pointed out by Karl Marx, revolution was a serious business and not a plaything. For him transition was a historical era, which would happen when conditions matured. Marx did not use the poor illiterate masses, their problems and sentiments for ‘revolutionary’ games on the political chessboard. He dealt with a whole series of issues before the revolutionaries: their aims and objects, methods of struggle, use of democratic rights, propaganda, and nature of revolution and so on.

Therefore, it is a high time for the Kukis to realize what went wrong in the process of our political struggle. After decades of factional killings, bloodshed and enmity that plague the society, a prospect that the signing of SoO with the Indian government would ease the memories of the past turmoil was just minimal.

More and more new or factional groups have emerged and now the number of the Kuki undergrounds under KNO and UPF has touched the 20 plus marks. Looking at the present scenario, indeed this outcome is not a healthy thing.

Both UPF and KNO demands for the creation of Kukiland/ Zalengam within the framework of the constitution of India. Of late, one of the UPF members, UKLF, had started a demand for the formation of Kuki Development Council (KDC) in line with Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and Kuki Regiment. The memorandum has also been submitted to the concerned authorities both in the state as well as at the centre. There are people who argue that this proposition is pragmatic and a realistic approach, considering the present situation.

After all, be it Kukiland/ Zalengam/ KDC or whatever, the need of the hour for the Kuki society is unity, commitment and conviction in regard to the social and political set-up. It is now to be seen what kind of real change for the better Kuki undergrounds are able to bring about in the SoO environment during their talks with the concerned authorities. What is required is substance, not rhetoric.

The writer is an undergraduate engineering student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India.

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2 Comments

  1. Jalencha

    The need of the hour is a revolution against the feudal setup of our society. Any form of revolution(preferably armed Socialist) with active participation of the common Kuki people will be far more better than all those clan – based gangs put together.

  2. i appreciate your concern as the share the same view and opinion. SOmetimes i look back to the glorious past of our brave forfathers who gathered their strength to resist the might british force from occupying our land. It was then , now it pains and hurts to see that the so called land has been snatched away from us let alone the kuki nation or our dream Zalengam but even a district of Sadar Hills could not be claimed. we have nobody to blame but ourselves. it is our lack of unity which comes from lack of a good leadership. The underground or so called Armed Wings under the KNO is appalling as they are under KNO simply on papers in reality i feel sometimes KNO has lost touch with them . They dont even supervise control over them de jure or de factto .. they operate like MAFIAs in manipur and extort money from our own kuki community …gone were the days wen patriotic kukis leaves their families and wandered into teh thick jungles of Kachin to be trained took oath and fought for the nation. the present day is different there is no sense of patrotism nor sense of nationalism. mostly unemployed and uneducated youth for quick money joins such organisation and has become more of a menace to our society . I wonder how many such organisation wud be establishd in the near future. If KNO is serious on behalf of the kukis to fight for Kuki Nation they should chaneg their appraoch and not only involves the so called group but also arouse a sense of nationalism among the other kukis youth and imbibe the a patriotic appraoc to involves them in movement.