Internal displacement, not separation
One popular and oft-repeated catchword of the Kuki-Zo propaganda machinery is that geographic and demographic separation of Meitei and Kuki-Zo people is now complete. Almost all Kuki militant groups, many civil/frontal organisations and all the 10 Kuki-Zo Members of Manipur Legislative Assembly are now openly demanding a separate administration for the Kuki-Zo people outside the purview of the Government of Manipur. By repeatedly highlighting the so called geographic and demographic separation of Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities, the Kuki militant groups, CSOs and the MLAs have been arguing hard that the objective condition for creation of separate administration is quite conducive and favourable. However, the so called geographic and demographic separation of Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities did not happen on its own neither was it voluntary. The separation was effected after launching a premeditated and well-coordinated military offensive against the unsuspecting Meitei civilians. While driving out Meitei people from the Kuki-Zo dominated areas of Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Moreh etc, the aggressors (Kuki militants and their supporters) knew very well that Meiteis would retaliate and target Kuki-Zo people residing in Imphal but they had no qualms in sacrificing some of their own people in pursuit of the larger goal of separate administration. The events that unfolded in the aftermath of the May 3, 2023 attack perfectly fell in line to the conspiracy hatched by the protagonists of separate administration. Driven by sentiment and emotion, the Meitei reaction was more of a mob action. Unlike the Kuki aggression, it was utterly disorganised and there was no coordination at all. Again, unlike the protagonists of the separate and exclusive separate administration, there was no dedicated media cell or propaganda division among the Meitei civil organisations. The absence of a media cell among the Meitei civil organisations which couldn’t and didn’t work to win the favour of media houses based outside the State and abroad was exploited to the hilt by the Kuki aggressors. Thus the Kuki aggressors were quite successful in subduing the truths and facts and in propagating false and concocted narratives to suit their interests during the initial days of the violence. For quite a long time, a large part of the outside world saw the victims as aggressors and the aggressors as victims. Now things have changed and the world is seeing the real picture.
The High Court order which suggested the Government of Manipur to send necessary recommendation to New Delhi for consideration of Meitei demand to enlist them in the Scheduled Tribe category was just an excuse to attack and drive out Meitei people from Kuki-Zo dominated areas. In fact, the demand for creation of a separate Kuki State or territorial council is not something new. The demand grew louder when the Kuki-Zo communities staged a rally at Churachandpur in 2018 under the banner of an exclusive Autonomous Territorial Council. So, it is now crystal clear that the Kuki aggression on Meiteis was neither spontaneous nor any outburst of anger against the High Court order. Indeed, it was a pre-planned military offensive in pursuit of the political goal of separate State or separate administration. How complete is the separation of Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities? Are the areas claimed by Kukis for separate administration purely exclusive to them? After all their meticulously planned conspiracies, the protagonists of separate Kuki State/administration still need to answer these questions. Nagas have already made it very clear that they do not support the Kuki demand for separate State or administration. At the same time, Meiteis are of firm belief that Manipur is the common home of all the communities settled within its geographical boundary since ages, and all the communities have every right to settle in any part of the state. Even though Kuki militants and Kuki civil organisations have been repeatedly claiming that separation of Meitei and Kuki-Zo communities is complete, Meiteis don’t see it as separation. To the Meiteis, it is displacement, more precisely internal displacement which is temporary. Violence often leads to internal displacement and this phenomenon is seldom permanent. The protagonists of separate administration must not confuse themselves and others by misinterpreting internal displacement as ethnic separation.