From new districts to separate State

The ‘progression’ is really fast and furious. It was only in 2016 that Kangpokpi district was created out of Kuki dominated areas which were hitherto parts of Senapati district. Likewise, Chandel was bifurcated on the same day to give birth to Tengnoupal district. After a gap of just over six years, a much grander but potentially dangerous demand for creation of a separate Kuki exclusive homeland or separate state is being pursued in the most violent manner. The violent crisis was not even two weeks old when the Kuki-Zo-Hmar MLAs raised the banner of separate administration or separate state, based on a false and fabricated narrative of oppression of minorities by the majority. To anyone who does not bother to look deep into the crisis, it would appear that the violent crisis gave birth to the demand of separate administration but a deeper analysis will reveal otherwise. Many keen observers have already started questioning whether the violent attack on (Meitei) civilian population was driven by the political objective of separate administration or the violent crisis gave birth to the demand for separate administration. The violent attack on civilian population was neither spontaneous nor sporadic as manifested in the multiple and well-coordinated attacks launched on a single day and sometimes almost simultaneously. A preplanned and premeditated military offensive can only be driven and sustained only when there is a political goal, whether hidden or obvious. If it was not preplanned and if it was some spontaneous outburst of anger or grievances against government policies or court order, Meiteis would not have been attacked at different places on the same day and at the same time. Many are of the opinion that the politico-military offensive for creation of separate administration started with the infamous Churachandpur rally of May 3, 2023. It also heralded a violent process of demographic separation which is now almost complete with the cleansing of Meiteis from Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Moreh.
Retaliation and retribution to the offensive led to displacement of Kuki-Zo people from Imphal city and adjoining areas. If there is any ethnic cleansing which the exponents of separate Kuki state have been using almost ubiquitously in every piece of their propaganda, it was them who started the ethnic cleansing campaign. The imagined Kuki homeland or separate state encompasses many of the new districts, the creation of which is still contested and opposed by the Nagas.  There was a strong objection when the new districts were created, and the opposition would be much fiercer if any separate state or administration must be created encompassing these new districts. A prominent Naga organisation has made it very clear and loud. Notwithstanding the vehement and stiff opposition from several quarters, and the Government of India’s unambiguous declaration that no separate administration would be allowed in Manipur, the politico-military offensive for separate Kuki state has been going on in full steam, thereby multiplying the list of casualties every single day. Some scholars have surmised that the violent crisis is an outcome of Kuki people’s aggressive assertion of their rights over several parts of Manipur at the cost of Meiteis and Nagas.  Although the concept of ancestral land, ownership, and inheritance did not exist in Kuki ethos, today the exponents of separate Kuki state have been claiming several parts of Manipur as their ‘ancestral land’ to suit and support their narrative. It’s time to ponder over whether the violence gave rise to the demand of separate administration or the political objective of separate administration necessitated a military offensive against the civilian population of a particular community. At the same time, the exponents of separate Kuki state must realise that there is always a limit to what Manipur can concede to their ethno-exclusivist agenda. When the creation of new districts dominated by Kukis is still contested, demand for creation of Kuki exlusive state will only bring turmoil, and we fear, this is exactly what is happening in Manipur today.