Manipur violence: War for Chin-Kuki State
With the National Investigation Agency (NIA) unearthing a conspiracy by Chin-Kuki-Mizo militant groups with other Chin-Kuki-Mizo militants based in Myanmar and Bangladesh to indulge in violence by undertaking territorial strikes with an intention to create a separate State inhabited by the Chin-Kuki-Mizo tribes by carving out territories from India, Bangladesh and Myanmar and to wage war against the Government of India, the real picture of the Manipur crisis is finally emerging from beneath the volumes and volumes of false narratives. We have already questioned in this same column whether the violent conflict gave rise to the demand for separate administration/State or the full scale aggression against Meitei people was engineered in pursuit of the political goal of separate State. As revealed by the NIA’s investigation, it is most likely that the Chin-Kuki-Mizo militant groups launched a military campaign on May 3, 2023 to carve out an exclusive political domain of their own. In another word, it is the political goal of separate State which drove and fuelled the widespread violence. Once the driving force which ignited and sustained the violence is established, who are the aggressors and who are the victims will become quite obvious. Any keen observer would have certainly noticed that area domination is one key aspect of the Chin-Kuki militant groups’ military aggression. The Chin-Kuki militant groups’ military aggression is not limited to area domination. Ethnic cleansing is another major aspect of the military campaign. Remember how Meitei people were driven out of Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Moreh within days of launching the military offensive against unarmed Meitei population. Apart from driving out Meitei people from Kuki dominated areas, the Kuki militants also attacked Meitei villages in several peripheral areas of the valley districts. As the Meitei people were totally caught unaware and unprepared, they (Kuki militants) overran and captured many of these Meitei villages although they were repulsed from some areas. After driving out the residents, the Kuki militants not only occupied the Meitei villages but also built bunkers and fortified these places as witnessed in Phougakchao, Torbung etc. This is unmistakably a military strategy to lay claim over these areas permanently, if possible.
The arrest of a key leader of a Chin-Kuki-Mizo militant group is indeed a landmark breakthrough. The NIA has not yet divulged the name of the militant group to which the militant belongs but people would certainly like to know the name of the militant group. Here it must be noted that there is a widespread suspicion of involvement of Chin-Kuki militant groups which are under of Suspension of Operation or SoO in short with the Government of India and the Government of Manipur in the protracted violence. In fact, many civil society organisations have been vehemently demanding abrogation of SoO notwithstanding the repeated clarifications from that the State and its military agencies that SoO cadres, their arms and ammunition are intact in their designated camps. If the particular man arrested by the NIA is a cadre of a SoO group, it would not be wrong to say that the militant groups under SoO have been fooling both the Government of India and Government of Manipur all these days. In that case, both New Delhi and Imphal need to review the Suspension of Operation agreement immediately. Even if the particular man does not belong to any militant group under SoO agreement, the NIA said that Myanmar and Bangladesh based militant groups have entered into a conspiracy with a section of militant leaders in India to indulge in incidents of violence with an intention to drive a wedge between different ethnic groups and to wage war against the Government of India. NIA is currently investigating the case and we are hopeful that the investigating agency would go to the very bottom of the transnational conspiracy. Identification of the militant groups and their leaders in India, Myanmar and Bangladesh would definitely go a long way in resolving the Manipur crisis.