Arrests on charges of ‘incitement’ on social media and Manipur Govt policy

    05-Jun-2022
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John Phaltual
Contd from previous issue
In contrast, condemning the arrest, protest rallies were taken out in the hill districts of Churachandpur and Kangpokpi.  A few protesters were allowed to submit in the name of the Committee on Protection of Tribal Rights Manipur (COPTRM) their representation addressed to Governor La Ganesan through the District Magistrate/DC of Kangpokpi. The committee in its representation appraised the Governor of the arrest of the IHRA Manipur Chapter president and demanded his immediate release. It also stated that the Indian Penal Code IPC 153 (A) has gravely been misused by the State Government in the arrest of Dr Mark Haokip.
It also alleged that it was the Federation of Haomee and Kangleipak Kanba Lup that incited hatred toward minority tribes in the State but they were neither summoned nor arrested for instigating hatred and animosity among the people in Manipur. It also said that the case against Dr. Mark Haokip is unambiguously a fitting reply about the call of Kukis as foreigners and refugees.
That the arrest is an infringement upon the rights of Freedom of Speech and Expression which is enshrined under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution, the memorandum said and asked the Governor to acknowledge the unlawful arrest of Mark Haokip and release him forthwith. It also appealed to the Governor to stop all derogatory statements against the Kukis by non-tribal communities and it is a punishable offense under the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955. Meanwhile, Kuki Women Union Sadar Hills president, Mawinu said that the arrest of Dr. Mark clearly shows that there is no meaning of “Chingmi-Tammi Amatani” under the present State Government. She also said that Kuki women will launch a larger protest if Dr. Mark is not released.
It should be noted that there are many individuals and organizations from the valley and hills who posted hate comments on social media and Mark was a victim of his comments published in media outlets. One should know that the mistakes of a child and an adult have different degrees of consequences, so, the higher the position the bigger the liability and responsibility. Though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states : "All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law", not all sin is equal in terms of its effects and consequences.
The foreigner tag of the Kukis is contradictory to communal harmony:
On May 27, 2022, Dr. Mark Thangmang Haokip's father Mr. Limkhosei Haokip slammed the Chief Minister N Biren Singh for his alleged "blind and irresponsible" statement in branding him as a 'Myanmarese.'  The 76-years old father said that his father Ondou Haokip was a member of the Indian National Army (INA) and as such belonged to an Indian freedom fighter's family and further said that they have been living in Manipur for centuries since the time of Landaithangba.
On 28 May, the CM Biren at a gathering after a “Mass Plantation Drive” organized by the Forest Department at Kanglatongbi-Kangpokpi Reserved Areas said “Indigenous Kukis are also bonafide citizens of India and we should not let any external influence ruin the peaceful coexistence among various communities of the State. We should prevent illegal migrants from settling among us,”
One very vexing incident regarding the Kukis issue is the repugnant allegations by vested interest groups that the Kuki people are non-Indians and outsiders (foreigners). With the rise of chauvinist nationalism and jingoist scholars began to allege that the Kukis are not the indigenous people of Manipur. This is erroneous because historical records stated that the Kuki have settled in North East India since the ancient past.
The Manipur historical records dating back to AD 33, pointed out that Nongba Lairen Pakhangba, the first Meitei King, mentioned two Kuki chiefs, namely Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba. Cheitharol Kumaba (Royal Chronicles of the Meitei Kings) noted that in the year 186 Sakabda (AD 264) Meidungu Taothinmang, a Kuki, became king.
Again in 33 C.E two Kukis by the name Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba were allies of Nongba Lairen Pakhangba. King Irengba who reigned Manipur between 1107-1127 AD had contact with Kuki villages north of Imphal valley (Asim Roy, 1997).
And again, L. Joychandra, a scholar historian, noted that Manipuri King Naofanga who reigned between 624 AD and 714 AD had Friendship Treaties with Kuki Chiefs East of Imphal (Lost Kingdoms 1995:1).
Though the origins of the Meitei people are not conclusively known, there is no doubt, with historical evidence, that the Meitei were the first settlers of the land of Manipur. And it is quite strange to observe that in the Puyas, two Kuki Chiefs named Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba were allied to Nongba Lairen Pakhangba, the first historically recorded king of the Meitei.
The history of Manipur, particularly of ages before king Pamheiba alias Gharib Niwaj (1709–1754 C.E), lacks authenticity due to royal distortions and tampering of royal chronicles and other historical literature and treaties. Moreover, the historiography of Manipur suffers from a general lack of authentic data and source materials and from a general apathy to scientific and systematic study and experimentation.
Nevertheless, Manipur is a place where different communities which have different religions are living together. The people of various communities – the Meitei, Nagas, and Kukis - in the State maintain communal harmony and there has been peaceful coexistence since time immemorial. However, many problems have been popping up since the rise of nationalist ideologies among the various communities, and instead of demanding their rights from the State through peaceful means, there are groups with the wrong aspiration of targeting one community.
To be contd