Imphal/ September 14, 2023 (SPN) | The Ukhrul-based Naga leader has emphasized that Kukis abstaining from observing the ‘black day’ is not enough. They also should demolish all the monoliths erected in Kangpokpi areas.
The context behind this statement lies in objections raised by the Nagas regarding memorial stones that were erected in Kuki areas back in 2019. These stones bore the inscription: “In defence of our ancestral land and freedom.”
The Naga leader further stressed that to build confidence and garner their support, the Kukis must refrain from distorting historical narratives and encroaching upon Naga lands.
A member of the United Naga Council, the apex civil organisation of the Nagas, welcomed the development.
“They should have taken this stand long before,” said the Ukhrul-based Naga leader who did not wish to be identified.
This underscores the importance of addressing historical grievances, respecting territorial boundaries, and fostering mutual trust and understanding between the two communities in Manipur.
This time, the Kuki leaders in Manipur decided not to observe September 13 as a “black day” marking a departure from a three-decade-long tradition. This decision is perceived as a conciliatory gesture aimed at fostering better relations with the Nagas, who constitute the largest tribal group in the state.
The significance of September 13 lies in its association with the tragic events of 1993 when 115 Kuki civilians lost their lives in violent clashes with Naga militants. The day has since been observed as a day of mourning by the Kuki community.
However, this year, Kuki leaders chose a different path. They opted for a “day of prayer” instead, a move driven by the desire to promote peace and reconciliation among different ethnic communities amidst the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur.
The decision not to mark September 13 with black flags and attire was initially made on September 5 by Kuki chiefs and civil society groups in Kangpokpi district.
“It’s a message for the Nagas,” stated Thangminlen Kipgen, the vice-president of the Kangpokpi unit of Kuki Inpi, the apex Kuki organization in Manipur. “The Naga leaders have acted as peacekeepers and have not taken sides in the conflict. This is our way of demonstrating that Kukis hold tribal solidarity in high regard.”
Thangminlen Kipgen highlighted that the ongoing conflict in Manipur initially stemmed from a tribal movement. In this context, he emphasized the reluctance to take strong actions against fellow tribal groups during this conflict.
This reference pertains to the participation of Nagas in a protest rally on May 3, opposing the demand of the state’s majority Meitei people to be included in the Scheduled Tribe category. Unfortunately, this protest rally marked the beginning of the violence that has since engulfed Manipur.
The Kuki Peoples’ Alliance has also extended an appeal to the Nagas in Manipur, calling for “all-Manipur tribal unity” in support of the demand for a separate administrative unit.
“The decision not to mark ‘black day’ is a way of reaching out to the Naga community,” explained Sominthang Doungel, secretary of the Kuki Peoples’ Alliance.
“The Nagas have been supportive during the ongoing conflict involving the Meitei and Kuki communities, and we want to send a clear message that we can build our future together through mutual respect, trust, and cooperation.”
The Kuki Peoples’ Alliance has extended its appeal for unity to the Nagas in Manipur and called for collective action towards the establishment of a separate administrative unit comprising the hill districts, a move that has garnered support from the Kuki community.