In Manipur, there are no signs of violence between hill (Kukis) and valley (Meiteis), the demand for a separate administration of the Kuki ethnic group is gaining momentum.
At this point, any effort by the state and the center for peace and dialogue seems impractical. The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) and the Committee on Tribal Unity (COTU) announced that they would not endorse any government move unless N. Biren Singh was the chief minister, and President Raj in the state. is not enforced, is a clear message. That the Kukis have lost trust in the current government.
“Ethnic conflict is caused by the fear of the past, the future,” observed Vesna Pešića, a professor at the University of Belgrade. The fear of the majority of the Valley-Meitei for their future under land pressure, which they claim threatens their lives, is the main reason for the present-day violence. But why a particular tribe was brought together is a question shrouded in mystery and deserves investigation.
The current wave of violence has left 115 or more people dead, nearly 3,000 injured and more than 50,000 displaced. Experts have argued that the current hate campaign and violence against cookies amounts to ethnic cleansing. All efforts to mediate peace between the warring communities have failed to yield any results.
For example, the outright rejection of the constitution of the 51-member peace committee by all stakeholders was a key point. Incessant violence and deep ethnic differences between the two ethnic groups, combined with rumors and false accusations, testify that the time is ripe for them to live under the same roof with suspicion and each other instead of separating and being good neighbors. to kill
Separate administration is not a new demand
The demand for autonomy by the Kukis is not recent. It began in the 1980s as an armed movement under the alliance of two Kuki armed groups: the United People’s Front (UPF) and the Kuki National Organization (KNO). Tripartite talks with the Center and the state were laid in 2008 with the signing of a Suspension of Operations (SoO) with the surrender of Kuki armed groups.
Talks, so far, revolved around forming an autonomous regional council within Manipur, but today’s escalation of violence and the effects of bitter hostilities have forced the Kukis to press ahead with their demand for complete secession from Manipur. .
The Kuki leaders’ unequivocal demand for a separate administration should be appreciated and taken seriously. Secession will only serve to strengthen the concept of national cohesion rather than the threat posed to national security by some.
Furthermore, secession would result in national integration into a larger Indian state rather than the dissolution of the Union of India. A typical example is the separation of Khasi, Jayantia and Garo Hills from Assam in 1971. Today these tribes are flourishing under the constitution, and stand as proof of the wisdom of the government of the day.
How reasonable is the demand?
It is the discretion of the Center under Article 3 of the Constitution to eliminate this issue. A separate administration is the most viable way to find a permanent solution to this chronic problem and ensure lasting peace.
What types of separate administrations can be considered: Autonomy under the Sixth Schedule; A union territory with an autonomous regional council, and a legislature? Of these three, the most appropriate and sustainable solution is a union territory with a legislature, if not a full-fledged state.
Manipur is the 25th most populous state in India (Statistical Handbook on Indian States). The total population of Manipur, as per 2011 census, is 28,55,794. It has a rural population of 17,36,236 and an urban population of 8,34,154. In absolute terms, of the total increase of 403,602 added in the last decade, rural areas accounted for 1,45,416 and urban areas accounted for 2,58,186.
Manipur’s population growth rate in the last decade is 18.6% (rural 9.1%; urban 44.8%). Therefore, the claim of Valley-based Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and others is illogical with the growth rate of 22 percent of the population. Most importantly, the 2021 census is still on hold. Any figures cited as references outside of the 2011 census are irrelevant.
With 53 percent, Meitei has a population of 15,13,570 lakhs. While the number of tribals was around 1 million which is 35% of the total population according to the 2011 census. Of this, the Kuki and its sub-tribes comprise about 6 lakh.
With a decadal growth rate of 21.8 percent for Manipur, population growth is expected for all communities. So, a decade from now (2011-2021), the mushroom population will ideally be between 7-8 lakh.
Therefore, in terms of population, the Kukis are equal to the population of Sikkim – an entire state which is 6,10,577 as per 2011 census. Moreover, the population of Kokis is higher than the Union Territories of Ladakh (3,01,000), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (3,80,581), Dadra and Nagar Haveli (3,43,709), Lakshadweep (64,473), Daman and Diu (2,43,247), and even more than the peninsular state and country in South Asia — Maldives (3,80,492).
Manipur is the 23rd largest state in India by geographical size with an area of 22,327 sq km. About 90% of this total geographical area consists of hills inhabited by hill tribes – Kuki and Naga abad, with an area of 20,094.3 sq km.
In this, the Kuki inhabited areas include hilly districts like Pherzawal, Churachandpur, Chandel, Tengnoupal, and Kangpokpi districts with a total area of about 12,641 sq km. The large presence of Naga population in the above mentioned districts is in line with the large number of Kuki population in the Naga dominated hill districts like Ukhrul, Kamjong, Senapati, Tamenglong and Jiribam.
The total area inhabited by the Kukis and its dependent tribes is larger than the combined size of states like Tripura (10,491 sq km), Sikkim (7,096 sq km) and Goa (3,702 sq km). and central areas of Andaman and Nicobar Islands (8,249 sq km), Delhi (1,483 sq km), Puducherry (479 sq km), Chandigarh (114 sq km), Daman and Diu (112 sq km), and Lakshadweep ( 32 square kilometers). Therefore, the community in terms of area qualifies to be a UT in the absolute sense of the term, if not a full-fledged state.
Cultural and ethnic elements
Formation of states on cultural and ethnic lines is not new in India. The establishment of linguistic states represents our nation’s first major democratic political test. In 1953, Andhra Pradesh became the first state to be established on the basis of language.
Punjab, Assam, Kerala, Orissa, and Maharashtra are additional states formed on linguistic basis. Also, instead of recognizing linguistic diversity, some states, such as Nagaland, Uttarakhand, and Jharkhand, were established to recognize cultural, ethnic, or geographical diversity.
Considering the circumstances under which the said states were established, the Kuki and its subservient tribes speak and communicate essentially in the same dialect, unlike their neighboring tribal Nagas in Manipur, where a particular Naga The dialect is alien to the other.
Fungi also have consanguinity and kinship and belong to the same tribe. They also share the same cultural and traditional practices that are integral to their way of life—music, folklore, dance, food, dialects, etc. Therefore, by any relevant measure of measurement, cookies meet all criteria for separate administration.
Compensation for Kukis
The contribution made by the Kukis, who fought the British in what is historically known as the Anglo-Kuki War of 1917-1919, has not received much recognition from India. No community exists which has fought against the mighty British for three consecutive years to defend its land.
For no son of the soil will be steadfast to his last breath to fight for what is not theirs. The affidavit refutes allegations that the Kukis are “illegal immigrants”. Any doubt about the authenticity of the Kukis and their wars is based only on their lack of understanding of their rich history.
Also, it is important to acknowledge the role of Kukis in India’s independence. They formed the largest contingent—159 fighting men out of 188 freedom fighters—who fought alongside the INA against the colonial British at the INA-Memorial Complex in Moirang, Manipur.
India is indebted to the Kukis for their great sacrifices in India’s freedom. It would be unfair to give them anything less than a separate administration. Furthermore, placing them at the mercy of their neighbors is nothing short of criminal behavior that must be eradicated.
Any future efforts by the Center and the state to form a peace committee to resolve the current crisis will inevitably fail. In other words, it would be much easier to permanently divide two ethnic groups than to convince them to stay together. In essence, a separate administration is now the only option the Kukis have, given the conditions they have endured.
The Center should act quickly, but handle this critical crisis with extreme caution to prevent any spillover effects. At this critical juncture, the center must avoid choosing short-term remedies over long-term solutions. The Kukis have full faith in the wisdom of the center to right the wrongs of colonialism once and for all. The best possible tribute that the Indian government could pay would be to provide a separate administration to the Kukis and to establish lasting peace in the region.
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