"Sahnit ni" marks the observation of the highly despicable and condemnable atrocities meted out to the Kuki people in the NSCN IM's pogrom, that took the lives of 1000 innocent Kukis and rendered thousands orphaned and homeless. Twenty six years have passed but justice to the thousand massacred Kukis remains a distant dream.
It was NSCN IM that masterminded the massacre of Kuki people in their pursuit to include Kuki areas in their demands for political integration. All these while, some innocent Manipur Naga writers were used by the NSCN IM to cover-up their shameless acts by branding the horrendous crime as "Just ethnic clash". The NSCN IM's cowardice allegation that the atrocities on the Kukis were committed by the Manipur Naga public and their defense forces has fooled few Manipur Nagas. A feeling of enmity was thus seeded in the minds of the people while NSCN IM enjoyed the moral high ground of being defended by immature and misinformed writers occasionally coming up with fake stories like "equal victims on both side theories".
The Kukis are simple peace-loving people, the proof of which is evident in their observation of "Sahnit ni", which is a non-violent protest against the inhumane acts perpetrated on its people and a peaceful demand to bring justice to the victims of the NSCN IM massacre. The day is usually observed by paying tributes to the fallen heroes who were killed for no faults of theirs and a mass prayer held to seek God's blessings on the Kuki people in general and the victims in particular.
That there are certain groups of people who are woeful about the Kukis observing "Sahnit ni", speaks about the severity of the genocide campaign on the Kukis by the NSCN IM, which should be condemned by all. Understandably, they wanted the Kuki people to forget the incidents and moved on. It should, however, be noted that in our endeavour to usher in peace and harmony, we should not overlook the fundamental requirement of justice to ensure permanent resolution of the issue. Even then, the commemoration of the incident should not be viewed as an embarrassment for the Manipur Nagas as the families of the victims have every right to remember their loved ones and pay tribute to them. People around the globe follow this ritual of remembering victims and the same has not fueled any enmity between communities.
Nevertheless, justice to the Kuki people would go a long way in healing the wounds of thousand Kuki families affected by the NSCN IM pogrom.
Rehabilitation and rehabitation of the thousand Kuki families, as well as the judicial trial of the masterminds to these heinous crimes, would be one positive step to start with. Another important aspect is the speedy resolution of the Kuki political issue and their aspirations for self-governance. The Kukis have vehemently protested the British conquest of their lands and lives; The Anglo-Kuki war 1917-1919 stands as a witness to that.
They have withstood NSCN IM's aggression to grab their lands and lives for the NSCN's Greater Nagalim dreams. The Kukis have shed too many blood for their ancestral land.
It is time the Government took cognizance of the long-pending political issue of the Kuki people and resolve it at the earliest possible. For, there will be no lasting peace without justice.
The writer is based in Guwahati and can be reached at [email protected]