The present Manipur crisis is the outcome of the continuation of the British Policy of Meitei containment by the Indian National Congress Party by encouraging illegal immigration from Myanmar and Bangladesh and converting them into a vote bank. Contrary to popular belief, this crisis cannot simply be labeled as a fight between two ethnic communities.
In an open letter to Rahul Gandhi, former President of the Indian National Congress, the Manipur Patriotic Party’s General Secretary (Org), Naorem Mohen blamed the Congress Party for the root cause of the Manipur crisis.
Rahul ji, I appreciate your concern for the present violent crisis in Manipur. However, you’ve wrongly described it as a fight between two communities. I take this opportunity to remind you that the present Manipur crisis is the outcome of the continuation of the British Policy of Meitei containment by the Indian National Congress Party by encouraging illegal immigration from Myanmar and Bangladesh and converting them into a vote bank for your party, otherwise known as Congress.
Historically, Manipur was an independent kingdom with a written constitution before its merger with India. The then Government of the Dominion of India led by the Congress party failed to respect the Manipur people’s mandate by not consulting the then-existing Legislative Assembly.
There were 51 members elected through popular vote or the universal adult franchise. Without consulting the people’s representatives, the Dominion of India under your grandfather’s leadership and comrade in arms, the Iron Man of India, Sadar Vallabhbhai Patel to whom the BJP Government has dedicated a tall statue, and his side-kick VP Menon, annexed Manipur. As if the conquest is not enough, Congress insulted the formerly sovereign Manipur by giving it the status of a Part C State under a DC’s authority. And through stages of “political conferment”, New Delhi kept Manipur under central rule up to 1972 until Manipur hard-earned its present status of statehood.
For your kind information, this political humiliation is the root cause of the armed liberation movement officially known as the insurgency movement in Manipur. To neutralize the Manipuri angst and its sense of loss that gave way to an armed insurrection movement, Congress assumed that the best way forward was to continue the Meitei containment policy of the British. Rahul ji, in post-colonial times, the ghost of colonialism continues to haunt us.
The policy informs state-led demographic politics, internal security strategies, trade and commerce undertakings, and above all, ethnic relationships in this ancient land. You can’t deny it. Congress continued to sow the seeds of ethnic divergence and divide in Manipur.
However, in this sinister design, Congress also eyed for political gain. Because in the institutional structure of the Westminster model of government that India inherited from the British, winning elections to command the government is important. And ostensibly, this power is derived from the people through periodic elections. In other words, Congress needed a vote bank to fuel not only electoral victory but also contain and overwhelm the Meitei belligerence. There is ample evidence to illustrate this sinister design.
One doesn’t have to look far but go back to the 1950s, the 1960s, and the 1970s to see how the Congress Government in New Delhi handled illegal immigrants in Manipur from Burma (presently, Myanmar) and East Pakistan (presently, Bangladesh).
During these times, refugee camps were set up in Tuibong, Singhat, Thanlon, and other places in Manipur for the Kuki refugees displaced from Burma in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The surplus population of refugees was never deported to their place of origin. Instead, the Congress Government in New Delhi granted them citizenship and resettled in hill areas or the foothills.
Citizenship rights entitle voting rights and this frigid Kuki population became the vote bank of the Congress in subsequent decades until BJP lured them away in contemporary times in the 2000s. Congress attempted to kill two birds with a single stone – electoral gains and Meitei containment. But the story does not end here.
Propelled by vote bank politics, successive satellite Congress governments in Manipur also followed the footsteps of the Central Party Command. More than the sinister design of New Delhi, Manipur State Congress Government under its patronage allowed the Kuki immigrants to flourish. It encouraged the illegal immigrants to systematically encroach on other community’s land as well as provide them with immunity while at the same time allowing them to encroach on the reserve and protected forests, sacred sites, wildlife sanctuaries, and protected sites.
Immunity came in the shape of the Indian Forest Act in the 1960s during the Congress regime. Several provisions of the Act empowered the illegal immigrants (protected by government agencies) to snatch away land from the Meitei and Naga villagers from their habitats in the reserve forest, especially at the foothills of the valley. These were lands or villages granted to the indigenous people by the Manipur State Durbar way back in 1931 but then obliterated by the Indian Forest Act.
Meitei containment policy became glaring during the Congress regime headed by Shri Okram Ibobi Singh (CM for three consecutive terms). Thousands of Meiteis were slaughtered during his Chief Ministership. Fake encounters and extra-judicial killings were the events of the day during these Congress regimes.
There is the heart-wrenching story of Thangjam Manorama Devi, raped and killed by the 17th Assam Rifles on 11th July 2004. Consequently, 12 Imas disrobed in front of the then Assam Rifles HQ at Kangla, raising slogans like, “Indian Army, Rape Us, Kill Us”. Political sagacity prevailed over the then Prime Minister of India Shri Manmohan Singh from your party to console the wounded souls of the Manipuris. He shifted the Assam Rifles from Kangla.
Then, there was this Thokchom Rabina case on 23rd June 2009 at Khwairamband Keithel, which the Tehelka exposed. A pregnant Rabina was killed by a stray bullet from the Manipur Police Commandoes when they were murdering (fake encounter) Ch. Sanjit Singh. It happened during the Congress regime.
There are many more heart-wrenching stories since the Congress Government imposed the Armed Forces Special Power Act in 1958 (subsequently in 1980 across Manipur) but why burden you? Thus, let’s grapple with the present violence and Manipur crisis.
It was the same Congress Government that formalized the Suspension of Operations (SoO) with Kuki militant outfits. Informally started by the Indian Army under the instruction of the Congress Government on 1st August 2005, the SoO became an official tripartite pact on 22nd August 2008. The crux of the pact was to continue the Congress Government’s policy of annihilating valley-based insurgents by grooming the Kuki militant outfits.
Now tell us, have your Congress governments at New Delhi and Imphal initiated any policy to bring a political solution to the insurgency movement in Manipur, for example, the restoration of the sovereignty of Manipur claimed by the valley-based insurgents apart from the military approach?
You’d surely agree that the ground rules for the implementation of SoO were never enforced in letter and spirit since the day of its inception. As a result, Kuki SoO militants went on a rampage using threats and intimidations, interfering in the implementation of government schemes, undertaking extortion from government employees, traders, and businessmen, and collecting illegal taxes from non-Kuki communities in the Kuki-dominated areas of Manipur. Visit Churachandpur, they’d surely tax you in the name of tribal solidarity.
SoO cadres are actively promoting and indulging in the setting up of Kuki illegal immigrant villages in the foothills surrounding the Imphal valley. They’ve succeeded in creating a ring of Kuki settlements surrounding the valley, and also in the foothills along the two National Highways.
The Indian para-military force responsible for the SoO pact remains silent spectators as long as the Kuki militants provide them with information and physical assistance in tackling Meitei and Naga insurgents. There’re allegations that the Indian force also regularly partakes in the Kuki spoils in the form of entertainment and business gifts. But the most shocking revelation is that since 2008, the Congress Government in New Delhi never bothered about transforming the SoOpact into a peace talk.
Now let’s bare the truth about Congress’s perspective on illegal immigrants and foreigners in Manipur. On account of vote bank politics, it has never attempted to tackle the issue. This is to the extent that the party never bothered to frame a refugee law.
As a result, both the governments at New Delhi and Imphal never agreed to implement an Inner Line Permit System (ILPS) demanded by the people of Manipur. Call it a coincidence, but on 18th August 2015, a rally in support of ILPS implementation at the border town of Moreh was sabotaged by illegal Kuki immigrants in connivance with the security forces. Many Meities houses were burnt and demolished on that day.
In fact, the then Congress Government reportedly sent a senior Kuki police officer to prevent Manipur police from stopping the carnage against the Meities and acts of arsons committed to Meitei properties including the building of the Meitei Council, Moreh. None of the perpetrators has been booked or punished. But just look at it, when the Kuki carnage swept over Meiteis at Moreh, no Kuki was harmed or Kuki property destroyed in Meitei-dominated areas of Manipur.
Rahulji, we take the opportunity of reminding you that the Congress Government indulged in changing administrative areas for the advantage of the Kuki at the expense of other communities.
For example, in 2012, the Manipur Congress Government removed four Gram Panchayats, (namely, Koubru Leikha, Toribari, Kalapahar, and Santalabari Parasain), and one Zila Parishad Constituency (namely, Kanglatongbi) from the Manipur Panchayati Raj System under Imphal West District. These villages were transferred to the Kangpokpi Autonomous District Council (ADC) under the newly created Kangpokpi District. It led to the marginalization of Nagas, mostly Liangmai, the Hindu Nepalese, and the Meitei.
Then, in 2014, the Congress Government committed a mindless act of creating a new Subdivision in Churachandpur that hurt the religious sentiment of the Meities. While Meiteis are not against creating a new sub-division, the callous act of changing the area’s name to a Kuki name, Thangting, replacing the name of an ancient sacred place for the Meiteis called Thangjing, the abode of Lord Thangjing, deeply hurt the Meitei sentiment. Such senseless acts are responsible for the birth of radical elements within the Meitei fold.
Above all, the Congress Government never took up steps to notify the existing Moreh Small Town Committee. Consequently, without any formal notification, the area under the jurisdiction of the Moreh Small Town Committee has become a part of the Tengnoupal ADC following diktats of Kuki armed militants. This has resulted in the marginalization of the Meiteis and Tamils. And add salt to the wound, Moreh has been cleansed of the Meiteis by armed Kuki militants and immigrants since the present Manipur crisis started on 3rd May.
So Rahulji, the root cause of the present Manipur crisis is the making of the Congress party. Your party has played with the lives of the people in your ambition to win elections and isolate the Meiteis as a part of your vote bank politics and Meitei containment policy, respectively.
Now the Meiteis have become refugees in their own homes. Your party is morally responsible for allowing the Kuki militants to give cry for an “ancestral land” in Manipur and drive out the Meiteis from Kuki-dominated areas. So sir, can we conclude that the Congress party is anti-Meitei and anti-Naga?