The People’s Alliance for Peace and Progress Manipur (PAPPM) writes to Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding the emerging new Kuki sovereignty movement with the formation of People’s Democratic Republic of Kukiland, which is a big threat to the peaceful co-existence of different communities of Manipur as well as national security in the long run.
In a press statement, PAPPM highlighted the PM about the recent discovery of new Kuki sovereignty movement under the banner of People’s Democratic Republic of Kukiland with Mark Haokip as President solving many puzzles that have been happening in the state of Manipur recently. The various issues and topics are highlighted to the Prime Minister for necessary action.
Poppy Plantation and Drug Smuggling: Illegal poppy cultivation for opium has been in existence in Manipur for more than a decade, but production has increased manifold in the last few years. Poppy plantation and drug smuggling supported by armed groups have become a big source of income for some people living on hills. These people have also acquired large areas of prime land in valley areas from the proceeds of poppy plantation and drug smuggling. On February 26, 2021, for the first time in Manipur, 33 communities have pledged to end poppy plantations as part of Chief Minister N Biren Singh’s “War against Drugs” campaign, whereby the Chief Minister led the leaders and representatives of 33 different communities in taking a collective pledge to work together towards complete destruction of illegal poppy cultivation and checking illegal drugs businesses. Surprisingly, the poppy plantation and drug smuggling continued to be on rising thereby indicating that some powerful forces are involved in these illegal activities. The emergence of People’s Democratic Republic of Kukiland for an independent Kukiland strongly suggests that their idea of Kuki sovereignty is the driving force behind the continuation of Poppy cultivation and drug smuggling even after leaders of 33 communities along with the Chief Minister of Manipur pledged to work together towards complete destruction of illegal poppy cultivation and checking illegal drugs businesses.
Establishment of new villages inside Reserved and Protected forests as well as Wildlife Sanctuaries: Analysis of census data shows that the population of Thadous/Kuki tribes in Manipur increased from 56,467 in 1981 to 1, 21,994 in 1991, a growth rate of 116.04 % which is impossible to happen naturally. Further, the population increased to 1, 82,594, again with an extremely high growth rate of 49.67 %, which cannot be achieved naturally without the transfer of population from outside Manipur. Comparing the decadal growth rate of 116.04% in 1981-91 period with All India growth rate of 23.86% during the same period confirms that the growth of population is not natural. Similarly, the growth rate of 49.67 % during 1991-2001 period is more than double the All India average growth rate of 21.34 % which again suggests unnatural growth. Reserved forests and protected forests in Manipur were notified mostly in 1960s and 1970s and there has been no recent nonfiction for new Reserve forests or protected forests for the last many decades. Many new villages inside Reserved and Protected forests have sprung up after 1980s and many of them claim to be belonging to Thadou/Kuki tribes. This illegal encroachment combined with the mass poppy cultivation has destroyed the Reserved and protected forests thus adversely affecting the environment and threatening the life of many people through landslides, mudflow and floods.
Concerted effort to rechristen the Kuki/Thadou/Zou uprising of 1917-1919 as the Anglo-Kuki War: Many of the tribes belonging to Thadou/Kuki came to Manipur when they were driven out of Lushai Hills and Cachar by the Lushai tribes in mid-nineteenth century. They were given shelter by Maharaja Narsing (1844-1850). The Thadou/Kuki tribes were patronized by the Britishers and Maharaja of Manipur and many have joined Manipur Army. The revolt known earlier as Khognjai or Thadou or Zou uprising or rebellion against the forced conscription of labour for Indian Labour Corps by the British Authorities to be sent to France is now being attempted to rechristen as Anglo-Kuki War to project a notion that some sort of Kuki State/Kingdom existed when the uprising took place. Simply put, this is in an attempt to lay down the foundation for a future Kuki Independence movement, armed or otherwise. It is also worth mentioning that the southern tracts hill tracts of Manipur were largely barren of settled villages and population. This is well supported by the various official documents of that time. The village settlement began only after the Lushai expedition (1871-72) when some villagers belonging to Kamhow tribes came to settle there to avoid the oppressive conduct of Kamhow chiefs in Chin Hills.
Claiming of Holy Places of Meeteis and other communities as Kuki Ancestral Land: Less than ten percent of the geographical area of Manipur is valley and the rest is hilly area making Manipur a hilly state. Archeological evidence of the Paleolithic, Haobinhian and Neolithic Age has been found in Manipur. That means human settlement in Manipur started between 20,000 to 10,000 BCE with the prehistoric man residing in the caves in the Paleolithic Age. The prehistoric man of the Haobinhian Age used to live both in the caves and open-air sites in Manipur, whereas they settled in the valley regions during the Neolithic Age. This means human settlement in Manipur started in caves and they came down to valley areas during the Neolithic age. The archeological evidence shows that Neolithic man reached the Manipur Valley not later than 2000 B.C. We all know that later a powerful Kingdom of more than 2000 years of written history could be established with the participation of all people in the present Imphal valley, Kabaw Valley, Cachar valley upto Sylhet as well as people living in the surrounding hills. Many mountains and hilltops are the abode of various deities representing the ancestors and hence the holy places for the Meeteis as well as for other communities who have shared a long historical experience with Meeteis. Every year people go on pilgrimage to the top of these hills and mountains and pay respect to their ancestors. To the dismay of all living in Manipur for a long time, some Kuki groups all of a sudden have started claiming these mountains and hills as Kuki ancestral land. This action of some section of Kukis who have come and settled in Manipur only recently has hurt the sentiments of Meeties very badly. The emergence of the People’s Democratic Republic of Kukiland makes it crystal clear that these unhealthy and unjustified steps of claiming holy places in Manipur as Kuki Ancestral land by some Kuki groups are the brainchild of Mr. Mark T. Haokip and his associates.
The statement also acknowledges that with the coming of the new BJP government under Chief Minister N Biren, we have witnessed stronger steps have been taken up to eradicate the poppy plantation and put an end to drug smuggling. We have also witnessed the concerted efforts to save reserved and protected forests to save the environment. There is ample evidence of taking the confidence of the people in all his efforts to achieve these goals. He has also made efforts to protect and preserve the heritage and the culture of Manipur by declaring the various holy places as heritage sites which will help to maintain social harmony in the long run. Now, the people of Manipur at large have faith in his leadership for the peaceful development of the State within the Indian Union.
The likes of Mr. Mark T. Haokip and his associates have resorted to the course of communal polarization by attacking the historical events of Manipur and also attacking the leaders of other communities thereby provoking reactions that further help the polarization process. This has seriously threatened to undermine the process of building a peacefully developed Manipur whereby all communities live together peacefully. There is an urgent need for the Government of India to take the happenings in Manipur seriously and review the policies which have led to such a situation which can be very detrimental to the security of the Nation in the long run. The present situation is a result of past inactions by successive governments. In addition to this, the various steps taken by the present BJP government for eradication of poppy plantations, stopping drug smuggling and deforestation, etc., need to be supported strongly.
Lastly, the Organisation also seeks the support of the Prime Minister to help the State government to take the necessary steps for the complete eradication of Poppy plantations in Manipur, awarding severe deterrent punishment to drug smugglers, protecting reserved and protected forests of Manipur, and stopping the false claim of the areas of Manipur as ancestral land by some Kuki groups.