Last Updated on February 17, 2023 by SPN Editor
The Sahnit Ni was observed across the globe and India on Tuesday by the Kukis living in Assam, Nagaland, and Manipur seeking Justice for more than thousands of victims killed, lakhs of displaced Kuki people, and hundreds of displaced Kuki villages in the alleged ethnic pogrom of NSCN (IM).
Apart from mourning and commemorating the victims, the Kukis also demonstrated their discontentment of not delivering justice as bonafide citizens of the country on the part of the Manipur Government and the Government of India despite more than 60 memoranda to the Governments seeking justice during the 28 years observation.
As directed by Kuki Inpi, the Kukis hoisted a black flag in their respective houses, while donning a black cloth or traditional attire and avoiding traveling, working on farms or fields, rather they engaged themselves in a mass prayer the whole day.
What happened on 13 September 1993
On September 13, 1993, around 100 Joupi and Janglenphai village men were taken to a cliff by a river not far from Tamei, their hands were tied together behind their backs in each pair. They were treated inhumanely, beaten, tortured, and cut with a knife as they walked toward the cliff. Upon reaching the cliff, they slit their throats with a machete, hacked and butchered their bodies, some were shot dead and they threw the dead bodies in the river.
These villagers from Joupi and Janglenphai had to leave their ancestral lands and seek refuge in the Chalva Kuki village in the present Kangpokpi district. When they reached Tamei, cadres of NSCN(IM) and local Naga people intercepted them and snatched all their belongings. Later the IM cadres separated the Kuki men from their families and tied them behind their backs. The women were beaten and forced to leave their men, whoever refused to leave their men was threatened to be shot on the spot. Women and children had to flee in fear for their life leaving behind all their men in despair.
Sahnit Ni in Churachandpur
Sahnit Ni or Kuki Black Day observance saw Churachandpur town donned in black as black flags were seen hoisted up in all residential houses of the town. All educational institutions also declared a holiday in support of ‘Sahnit Ni’ observation and vehicular movement was also limited. Various Churches in the district observed the day by holding a ‘mass prayer.’ Most governmental institutions also saw lesser attendance owing to the observance and commercial areas of the town also witnessed fewer people, compared to the usual day.
The main function was held at the Complex of Kuki Inpi Churachandpur, the place where a memorial stone was erected in 2018 on the occasion of 25th year’s anniversary.
Reports said that all organizations of the Kuki community attended the event. After the main program, ‘Candle Lighting’ was held at KIC complex, paying respect to the departed souls.
Letpu Haokip, President Kuki Inpi Churachandpur said the observance is held annually to demand justice for the slain innocent persons during the ethnic pogrom carried out by the NSCN-IM during the 90s. The observance will continue so long as the government settles the issue and delivers the much-deserved justice to the victims, he added.
“We have been pressing hard for justice for the government. But instead of doing justice, the government is in dialogue mode with perpetrators-NSCN(IM). The observance is not for bloodshed, the Kukis are all for peace,” the KIC President said.
Sahnit Ni in Kangpokpi
At Kangpokpi District Headquarters, shops belonging to the Kuki community were seen closed for the day, and vehicles belonging to the Kukis were off the road while black flags were seen hoisted along the roadside.
Sahnit Ni was observed in all churches of the town while some churches organized whole night mass prayer.
At Gelnal village in the Twilang area, Sahnit Ni was wisely observed by the villagers along with the survivors of the alleged NSCN-IM pogrom. The villagers and the survivors have sordid tales of horror and gory incidents to tell about the massacre of 17 villagers of Gelnal village alone 28 years on this particular day in 1993 pushing the day’s heads count to 115 including 88 villagers of Joupi and Janglenphai, and victims of Santing and Nungthut village out of thousands during the alleged Kuki Genocide perpetrated by the NSCN-IM.
A mass procession was also held from the village church campus to the site where a memorial stone was erected in which all the names of the victims were listed. At the memorial site, floral tributes were paid to the departed soul and the Kuki leaders also beat a traditional gong, ‘Dahpi’ as a tribute apart from the gun salute.
The September 13 incident of the alleged methodic savageries and the sheer magnitude of the well-planned massacre shocked the whole world turning the day the ‘Blackest Day’ in the history of the Kukis which the BBC reported as “ethnic cleansing by Naga separatist”, the CNN called “Kuki Genocide” and other world media called it as “Bloody ethnic cleansing”.
Failure of the Indian Government to deliver justice to the victims of the NSCN-IM-led Kuki Genocide despite signing ‘The Universal Declaration of Human Rights containing 30 Articles’ on December 10, 1948, pledging to protect its own people and deliver justice in case of any problems accordingly to the Indian laws were also strongly emphasized at Gelnal’s Sahnit Ni observation.
At Kholmun village in Kangpokpi also the Sahnit Ni was observed by the villagers, victims’ families, and survivors.
Dulen village chief, whose village had also been among the displaced Kuki villages opined that the Kuki people will be the only nation next to the Jews during Hitler’s regime, who observed Black Day in the world.
The mass prayers in all the Sahnit Ni observances have a common prayer point for the Kuki community and their leaders, justice for the NSCN-IM-led Kuki Genocide victims, etc.
A candle-lit service to pay tribute to the departed souls was also organized at Kangpokpi District Headquarters in the evening under the aegis of Kangpokpi Youth Union apart from similar events in many other places in the district.
KYU President Haolet Khongsai led the ceremony while Pastor J. Lunkim performed the condolence service and invoked blessing prayer for the victims’ families and the Kuki people.
Kuki Black Day in Dima Hasao
The Kukis of Dima Hasao also observed Kuki Black Day in all the Kuki villages, along with the rest of the Kukis of the world, seeking justice for thousands of Kukis killed from 1991 to 1997.
At Songpijang, a public gathering program was held on the premises of GB Mr. L. Guite.
Conducted by Village Secretary Upa H. Haolai, the program started at 7.00 am with an opening prayer from Pastor S.Changsan.
The Speech on the theme was delivered by Pastor H. Changsan Secretary of Songpijang Churches Fellowship. He also led condolence meetings and mass prayers.
Speaking on the occasion, he said that the Kuki people killed by the Naga Lim Guard of NSCN (IM) from 1991 to 1997 were more than one thousand all over Kuki inhabited areas of Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland. Those killed on 13th September 1993 were more than 100, most at Joupi village in Manipur.
Besides these, several Kuki bodies and student organizations in Indian cities like Pune, Bangalore, Shillong, and New Delhi observed the Sahnit Ni by lighting Candles and remembering the victims, and pledging to seek justice.