KSDC reiterates Kuki State demand

Published on August 18, 2013

IMPHAL: The Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) has reiterated its resolute demand for a separate Kuki state under Indian Constitution while pledging the KSDC and Kuki people will never bow down under any circumstance till a Kuki state is created.

The KSDC asserted that the Kukis were independent people before the British came to the region in the nineteenth century.

They were under the administration of their chieftains and never been under any foreign regimes until their territory was sliced out and given to other foreign rulers. It was the British colonialist who first divided their territory into several halves and distributed them to the three provinces of British India (Assam, Burma and Bengal) and the two princely states (Manipur and Tripura).

As a result of two treaties signed between Manipur and British government in 1833 (for Manipur’s western boundary) and 1834 (for its eastern boundary) a part of Kuki territory was given up to Manipur without consulting the Kukis.

According to KSDC, this disposed territory was initially without any specific southern boundary.

“It was later demarcated by Manipur Chin Boundary Commissions in 1893-94 which formed the boundary between the expanded Manipur state and the newly created British Chin Hills District. Manipur-Lushai Hills and Chin Hills-Lushai Hills were also similarly demarcated. The three boundary lines have become one of the most formidable ‘iron curtain’ to the Kuki people till today. But the fact remains that this boundary regime and the new authority that came along with it were constantly challenged and resisted by the Kukis since their inception. The mighty colonial regime was difficult to win but the desire to regain their freedom was never given up” it added.

The KSDC then said the immediate response to the new regime was an attack on British and Manipur territory. History has it that southern parts of Manipur and Cachar valleys were ‘uninhabitable’ due to Kuki attacks.

“For certain technical reasons, suitable to the colonial British and Manipur states, such resistance was accorded ‘raid’ in colonial account but to the Kuki people it continue to remain gal/ral (war) against colonial intrusion into their territory.

Several numbers of Kuki warriors and patriots had given their lives for this, the KSDC pointed out.

“Although the new regime did not directly controlled over the Kuki territory the imposition of the new authority who had not given back anything to the hills but extorted their wealth (in the form of house tax) and labour (for the pothang system) had created much furor among the Kukis. To remove such colonial yoke once for all the great war of independence was fought in 1917-1919 popularly known in colonial account as “Kuki Rising”. The Rising was brutally suppressed and the Kukis were punished to the extent they could never rise up again. Consequent to the Rising the hill area of Manipur was put under direct administration so that such rising might be prevented forever. Broken, insulted and impoverished the Kukis, in the aftermath of Kuki Rising, took advantage of the wind of change that came with the Second World War. They participated in the War alongside the INA-Japanese army against the Allied forces in the hope of acquiring freedom from the colonial yoke. In a solemn pledge, the Japanese had actually pr omised them freedom if they win the War but it was to the misfortune of the Kukis that the tide went against the former. But the Kukis left nothing against chance; they continue to struggle to gain their freedom,” the Kuki State Demand Committee said.

It then said when the idea of nationalist idea was sweeping across the region the Kukis had formed their first ever modern organization in 1936. They name it the Kuki Chief Association. It was rechristened as Kuki National Association in 1947 when the news of India’s independence was spreading across the landscape and a new hope of freedom was beckoning.

They also participated in the pan-Kuki movement under the banner of Mizo Commoners’ Union which was soon renamed Mizo Union (MU) in 1946. As the idea of reunification of all Chin-Kuki-Mizo lands had soon died out with MU the pendulum of homeland movement had shifted back into Manipur. Kuki National Association was rechristened as Kuki National Assembly and under the new banner a memorandum was submitted to the Government of India in 1960 for the creation of a Kuki state.

When this process had just begun a new wave of reunification movement again broke out in Mizo Hills under the banner of Mizo National Front (MNF). The pendulum of homeland movement again shifted back to Mizo Hills. The Kukis of Manipur joined in large number and fought until MNF gave up such idea of reunification. The creation of Mizoram in 1983 set in motion another phase of Kuki homeland movement in Manipur; the pendulum has just shifted back.

“This pendulum now gathers new vigor in the shape of an armed movement braving all odds and tragedies. In response to such homeland movement the Kukis have been maimed, insulted and stigmatized as ‘foreigners’ by other communities in their ownterritory.

Several numbers of Kukis had lost their lives, several more number of people had been rendered homeless and refugees in their own home, and countless amounts of wealth and property have been destroyed in the hate campaign against them. The Government of India and Manipur state continue to remain a silent spectator till this day,” said the KSDC.

It lamented that memoranda after memorandum, agitations after agitations, and appeals after appeals for help have no consequences in the face of the mute spectators. The political sufferings of the Kukis are not the end of the story. Take the case of their economic, social and cultural parameters; they are far behind other people in the state and in the whole region.

It also rued that everywhere the Kukis have now become ‘foreigners’ in the eyes of other people whose hate campaign have now reached beyond any comprehension. The source of such marginalization, stigmatization and insecurity was by tagging their ancestral homeland together with the territory of other domin ant and dominating people.

The KSDC then asserted, “The only solution to this state of affairs is to remove the tag that forced them to bundle with other people. If the tagging does not work well it is time that it should be removed immediately. In other words, the creation of a separate statehood for the Kukis out of their ancestral homeland becomes the only viable solution for this sorry state of affairs.

Anything less than statehood is not going to solve the problems, and not going to fulfill the aspiration, of the Kukis. It would be disrespectful to Kuki people to have anything less than State and to accept anything less than State is to do great injustice to our forebears who gave their lives for this, it said.

Source: Sangai Express – August 18, 2013

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