Kukis threaten to quit truce pact
By Nishit Dholabhai
New Delhi, Sept. 3: The Kuki National Organisation (KNO) has threatened to call off its seven-year truce with the Centre andManipur government if a political dialogue is not started within three months.
The demand comes at a time when talks with the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) have reached a crucial juncture. Both are competing for over-lapping territories, claims that had led to largescale violence in 1993.
“The Manipur government unilaterally extended the suspension of operations agreement (on August 30) for only three months, citing violation of ground rules by cadres. We signed the agreement but our stand is that if a dialogue is not started we will abrogate the SoO,” KNO spokesperson Seilen Haokip told The Telegraph.
The outfit’s leaders had also walked out of a meeting at North Block last month over the matter.
The Kuki umbrella organisation said it expected gratitude for making two more organisations, the United Tribal Liberation Army and the Pakan Reunification Army, party to the SoO this year.
Guns blazing, Haokip said some officials at the Centre acted like “fascists”, not even remembering if the KNO had submitted its demands.
The outfit claims to have submitted its demands in 1995 when Narasimha Rao was the Prime Minister.
It signed the tripartite suspension of operations in 2005.
It was during that time that the seeds were also sown for the talks with the NSCN (I-M). A good 15 years later, the Naga talks appear to have reached a point where some agreement could be reached, moving the “neighbours” to clamour for a bargain.
The Kuki-Naga clashes, which led to much bloodshed in the early 1990s, have been reduced to a mutually peaceful co-existence since but there has been no reconciliation in real terms.
Therefore, when Kuki groups demanded a separate Sadar Hills district, the Nagas went up in arms claiming the former were demanding “ancestral lands” of the Nagas.
Perhaps, it is the complex questions of territory that betray ideas about identity. Bertrand Russell is quoted as having said: “Identity is such a simple notion that it is hard to see why it gives rise to such baffling problems”.
Whether it is Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Assam or even neighbouring Myanmar, territorial claims by tribal groups usually overlap.
The Kukis’ claims disturb the Meitei outfits in the Imphal valley and the Nagas in the hills and vice-versa.
While the Mizo National Front had claimed a greater Mizoram and the NSCN (I-M) claims a Nagalim, the KNO claims a Zale’-gam that includes large parts of Manipur’s hills.
“We are not secessionists or anti-national. We want our dialogue to be resolved within the constitutional framework. But the SoO is seven years old, so why are you not holding a political dialogue with us?” asked Haokip, who has a doctorate from University of Liverpool and who gave up a teacher’s job at Woodstock in Mussoorie to join the “movement” in Manipur.
Haokip and the KNO’s “commander-in-chief” T.S. Haokip accused the Centre and the state of colluding to short-change the group.
Asked about relations between the Nagas and Kukis, the KNO spokesman said there was no violence between the two communities but conceded that there was no “official” reconciliation.
“Nagas and Kukis are neighbours but if the government can talk to one and does not talk to another it will be war-talks not peace-talks,” Haokip said.
This is precisely what the NSCN (I-M) may not be happy about even as it comes to terms with contradictions among the several Naga militant factions.
The NSCN (Khaplang) with bases in Myanmar, the NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) and factions of the Naga National Council (NNC) are in a process of reconciliation moderated by the Church-led Forum for Naga Reconciliation (FNR).
Source: Telegraph – September 4, 2012