NSCN (IM) never ceases to amuse
By PS Haokip
The latest NSCN (IM) assault on the Kuki people, this time a verbal sequence to their physical and genocidal assault from 1992 to 1997, and a progress from killing innocent villagers, i.e. barbarism, to trying to discredit Kuki Inpi (KIM) and Kuki Organisation for Human Rights (KOHR), relatively a more civilized act, however, needs to be put into perspective.
To begin with, there was never a ‘Naga-Kuki’ conflict; there was only NSCN (IM)-led Naga aggression on innocent Kukis from 1992-1997. NSCN (IM) can lie about their transgressions till they turn blue in the face, but the blood stain from their hands will not be washed, except when forgiven and due reconciliation takes place.
It is only appropriate that Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) and Kuki Organisation for Human Rights (KOHR) should plead for the rights of the Kukis – nothing to be apologetic about in this regard. Fairness and justice demands that the Indian government first settles the case of victims, i.e. Kukis before settling that of the perpetrator, Nagas. This is the moral responsibility of any responsible government.
The Linguistic Survey of India, Vol 111, Part 111 (1904), clearly demarcates ‘Kuki Country’. There is no controversy about ownership of land, barring that emanating from certain sections of Naga society. History is a witness to Kukis regard for human rights, which is why honest Nagas give due credit to Kuki chieftains’ intervention that maintained peace among warring Nagas in the 1800s.
It is an oft-repeated slogan of NSCN (IM) that Kukis are nomads, who came from the south. Sir Grierson’s delineation of ‘Kuki Country’ shows the ‘south’, or for that matter any of the other three cardinal directions north, east, and west, which are within Kuki people’s lands are where they chose to change their settlement, partly owing to their traditional Jhum cultivation. The British colonialists may have transferred some Kukis from one area to another, but it is hugely preposterous to account that for the entire Kuki population.
If Kukis are immigrants from Burma (as NSCN (IM) tends to harp), Tangkhuls of Ukhrul are also from Somra Tracts of Burma. However, in the case of Kukis, within ‘Kuki Country’, which is where they are in the present-day as also before 33 AD, when the coronation of the first Meitei king took place (Pooyas), neither Burma nor India existed. Hence, the question of immigration is irrelevant.
The Kuki Rising, 1917-1919 against the British colonialists is a testament to ownership of land and, therefore, the vehement defense of Kuki country. In contrast, Nagas, who were subjects of Kuki chieftains, were loyal to the colonialists. Dr B Angami had grossly falsified casualties of the event, which, however, was euphemistically attributed to ignorance in ‘A Response to Dr B Angami’ (Author/Written by: Stephen Haokip, Joint Secretary, Information & Publicity (KNO), Source: Huiyen Lanpao; 25 July 2013).
The NSCN (IM) had quoted F S Downs’ Baptist History Book, which was published in 1971 in trying to argue the land belonged to them. They fail to read the cynicism in writing of Downs, which says, ‘…an area which the Nagas regarded as exclusively theirs.’ The context of Downs writings can be understood from the following facts
- That he was a Baptist, writing about Baptist Church history in Northeast India.
- His sources for the history of Naga and peoples’ relationship were undeniably the Naga Baptist leaders who, rather than preach love as in the gospel preached hatred for decades, eventually resulting in the NSCN (IM) genocide on innocent Kuki villagers.
- Baptists missionaries came from the northern territories and converted the Nagas first. When the Kukis resisted the alien religion, British bias turned against Kukis. Later, when Kukis accepted the gospel from the evangelicals, the Baptist church considered it a snub and instigated an unhealthy competition between the Naga Baptists and Kuki evangelical churches.
- The Baptist leaders instigated the Naga national movement (e.g. The Naga Club in Jacobs, J et al (1990), The Nagas) before the colonial government was forced to quit British India.
- The Kukis fought the British for two long years, also using the active help of some Naga villages where the missionaries established Baptist churches.
The NSCN (IM) narrated instances of Kuki attack on Naga villages without daring to give the context. Kuki ownership of land and their uncontested authority was accepted by most Naga villages of the time. However, some villages such as those listed by the NSCN (IM) had at some point or the other, having prospered under the benevolent rule of Kuki chiefs and having grown in numbers, either dared to refuse the tenancy obligations towards Kuki chiefs or had entertained British missionaries against the wishes of the Kuki rulers.
In some other cases, they breached the peace brokered by Kuki chiefs in their barbarous head hunting warfare. It was under those circumstances only that Kuki chiefs, in the interest of larger peace between barbaric Naga villagers or in the larger scheme of law and order, punished errant villages.
The NSCN (IM) had the audacity to state that Kukis take favor from the British and Indian governments, when history is a witness to Naga complicity with British forces during the Kuki resistance against the British colonial power (e.g. 1917-1919), and when the Indian government turned a Nelson’s eye to the slaughter of innocent Kuki villagers, mostly women and children, between 1992 to 1997, and still turned a deaf ear to Kukis’ plea for justice while negotiating with the perpetrators of the Kuki genocide.
In a sense, historical distortion being the essence on which the Naga political movement in Manipur is being built by the Tangkhuls, who command the smaller Naga tribes to fight and die while they themselves are safe in their leadership seats within the Muivah dictated NSCN (IM) structure, these latest attempts at distortion and quoting selected history from the writings of anti-Kuki colonial writers should not come as a surprise.
To educate the NSCN (IM) propaganda machinery, what they seek to distort as Lousan Lampan, a tax which they ignorantly cited as given to Naga chiefs by Kukis, in fact is Lousan, the cess on Jhum land which the Naga headmen collected within his village to hand over to Kuki chiefs who own the land.
The NSCN (IM) quoted The Herald, a weekly newspaper, in 1993 that Kukis paid loyal tax to the Naga chiefs. The truth is, ‘The Herald’ story was planted by the NSCN (IM) propaganda machinery, which at one point was so well oiled that it was capable of engendering international support to the Tangkhul-led NSCN (IM)’s movement based on greed, hatred and a false history, to justify the genocide they launched on Kuki villagers from 1992-1997. It is only after seeing the savagery of the NSCN (IM) in their genocidal campaign on Kukis that the world fortunately come round to seeing the true colors behind the Naga mask of ‘Nagaland for Christ’.
Quotes of written works of Major General Sir James Johnstone, TC Hudson produced by the NSCN (IM) historians (sic) to prove Kuki nomadic character are amusing at best and deserve sympathy for their ignorance. The Kukis freedom to live in any part of their territory, their unfettered freedom and lifestyle of shifting their settlement near their jhum fields was never understood by the British writers. To them, it was akin to a wandering and nomadic life.
James Johnstone or his sources of information hearing of Kukis for the first time between 1830-1840 in Manipur, the valley kingdom just betrays their ignorance, not Kuki absence in their hill country. The fact that Kukis are free as the birds in the air within their territory cannot be distorted to mean anything else even by the scheming propaganda machinery of the NSCN (IM).
The NSCN (IM) denial of involvement in the Kuki genocide is betrayed by its veiled warning of a repeat if Kukis continue to remember those they slaughtered and insist on Kuki rights being settled before NSCN (IM)’s greedy claims are deliberated upon.
For the record, Kuki people observe 13 September as Kuki Black Day not to sow hatred or enmity, but as a traditional mourning, which never ends till the issue of their killing is appropriately resolved. Rather, the solemn observation is Kuki cultural and traditional practice of seeking to resolve issues for peace to reign in the land.
Even after 20 years, the perpetrators are yet to see the peaceful intent of the victimized Kukis in continuing to seek an end to enmity and burying the hatchet by resolving the matter. The Kuki people had even made overtures, which in relation to a normal offender should have come from the offending party.
Having put the NSCN (IM) falsity into perspective, the KNO still believes in peaceful co-existence and cooperation based on defined rights, mutually recognized and respected between peoples God almighty had designed to be neighbors, who should be loved as ourselves. The KNO also, hereby, urges sane elements within the Naga society to prevent the continued misleading of the Naga people by a few people inspired by greed, hatred and falsity.
What does one do with a people led by a few deluded leaders, who instill ideas of ‘unique history of Nagas’? The only unique aspect discernible is fabrication of Naga history – when was Naga country? For example, identifying a people (old Kukis of Chandel district in present day Manipur) as Naga and including their land within Nagalim is a hogwash – pure fabrication generated by Tangkhuls of Manipur claiming the identity Naga, and in the process confounding many Nagas of Nagaland.
The writer is president of the Kuki National Organization.
Note: The piece is written in response to the NSCN (IM)’s statement titled “Nagas are peace loving people” published on September 13, 2013 in Nagaland Post newspaper, based in the Nagaland state of Northeast India.