An observation of the present unrest in Manipur
RK Somorjit Singh
Manipur is situated in the North Eastern part of India, neighbouring Myanmar. The Meetei/Meiteis, Kabuis and Tangkhuls, Mao, Maram, Paomei, Thangal, Anal, Maring etc. broadly known as Nagas of Manipur and Khongjais which nowadays are known as Kukis are also treated as indigenous people of Manipur; although Kukis are mainly from Myanmar. And majority of Kuki population are newly migrated from Myanmar through illegal means. Influx is still going on in a planned manner in Manipur through the porous borders of Manipur-Myanmar and Mizoram-Myanmar.
The majority of Meetei/Meitei population mostly live in the valley areas and nearby hill sides, along with a large chunk at border area of Moreh and Kwatha Village and a sizable population at Churachandpur district of Manipur scattered till Mizoram border. And Nagas and Kukis prefer to live in the hill areas.
Some Nagas and Kukis are also living in the valley areas. The total surface area of Manipur is 22,327 sq.km. consisting of hill areas covering an area of 20,089 sq. km., valley areas covering an area of 2,238 sq. km., Forest areas covering an area of 15,154 sq. km. and central plain area covering an area of 1843 sq. km. And Manipur shares 532 kms. of international borders with Myanmar which is totally porous in nature not fenced properly due to many reasons. Almost everyday huge quanitity of drugs worth crores of Rupees in the international market are reported being seized in local daily newspapers which are being brought from Myanmar. Here the sad thing is 80% of drug smugglers are found belonging to the Kuki community ! Vast poppy plantation are still going on in the far and dense forest areas inhabited largely by the Kuki community.
The Government of Manipur has declared “War on Drugs” and tried to eradicate poppy cultivation from the hill sides but cannot succeed fully due to the involvement of many influential persons. Very recently 77 bags of poppy seeds were also seized from a Kuki family near Mantripukhri during the recent unrest.
Very recently Chief Secretary is replaced by Vinit Joshi after the intervention of Government of India during this ongoing riot/arson in Manipur. There are reports that many information are diverted or not delivered in time as Kukis are holding key posts of the State Administration, including the top echelons of the State Police Department !
And due to large number of illegal influx of Kukis from Mynamar and Muslims from Bangladesh, the rate of growth of population in Manipur is absolutely non-proportionate to other Indian States. The demography of Manipur is completely changed and destroyed due to this illegal influx. So, some valley based CSOs and student organisations have started to damand implementation of NRC in Manipur at the earliest. Here the State Government of Manipur has also started to set up a Population Commission in Manipur in recent days.
On the 8th April, 2023 in an outlawed manner, a group of Kuki Militants so called “Kuki Independent Party” snatched/ looted all arms from a designated camp of Kuki Militants under the Suspension of Operation (SoO) located at Churachandpur district. In the last week of April, 2023 State Govt started to remove some houses and Churches of Kukis which were built illegally after encroaching on the reserved/protected forest area of the State after giving a legal notice from the Court.
Somehow the people building those structures believed that all the hill areas are reserved only for tribals and the State Government of Manipur has no right to intervene.
They also think that the removal of their illegally built houses and Churches following a Court verdict is an ill-treatment and wrong administration against the Kukis done by the Government of Manipur ! From these incidents the Kukis became agitated and started to organise mass rallies against the State Government with the assistance and instructions from the suspected Kuki militants.
On the 27th April, 2023 an “Open Gym” which was supposed to be inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Minister of Manipur at Churachandpur was set on fire just one day before its inauguration date, by a large number of Kuki people incited by the those suspected Kuki Militants. On the 28th April 2023, so called “Indigenous Tribal Leader’s Forum (ITLF) declared total shut down at Churachandpur district. Then District Magistrate of Churachandpur imposed CrPC 144 section in the district immediately.
But, on the 29th April, 2023 a bandh was organised by some CSOs of Churachandpur to protest against the removal of houses and Churches (which were built encroaching on the reserved/protected forest area of Manipur) by the State Government. A mass rally was organised on that day and the crowed shouted slogans using unparliamentary words against the CM of Manipur such as “Biren Shakthu” which is a very derogative word in Manipuri language and started the violence by pelting stones towards the security forces. It was meaningless of the CrPC 144 Section in the district and they violated the order of the District Magistrate. The law and order situation in Churachandpur totally collapsed. One Meitei/Meetei sacred temple was demolished by the Kukis on that fateful day and one Forest Range Office was also set on fire by them.
Again, on 3rd May, 2023 when the Honourable Vice-President of India Shri Jagdish Dhankarji was scheduled to arrive for the fast time in the State for laying foundation stones for several Kendra Vidyalayas (Central Schools), a mass rally was organised in the name of ‘Solidarity Rally’ in the hill districts including Churachandpur to protest the demand for inclusion of Meitei/Meetei(To be contd)