New Delhi: Ten Kuki-Zomi MLAs of Manipur have submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting that posts of chief secretary and director general of police or its equivalents be created for the five hill districts where members of the community are residing since ethnic violence broke out.
The signatories have also asked for the sanction of Rs 500 crores from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
Seven of the signatories are BJP MLAs. These MLAs are the same ones who had pressed for a separate administration for Kuki-Zomi residents of Manipur. Chief minister N. Biren Singh’s government is likely to move a resolution to preserve Manipur’s territorial integrity – and thus go against this demand – in a special session of the Manipur assembly on August 21.
The signatory MLAs and their constituencies are parties are as follows: Haokholet Kipgen (Saitu, independent), Letpao Haokip (Tengnoupal, BJP), L.M. Kaute (Churachandpur, BJP), Nemcha Kipgen (Kangpokpi, BJP), Ngursanglur Sanate (Tipaimukh, BJP), Paolienlal Haokip (Saikot, BJP), Chinlunthang (Singhat, KPA), Letzamang Haokip (Henglep, BJP), Kimneo Haokip Hangshing (Saikul, KPA) and Vungzagin Valte (Thanlon, BJP).
Dated August 16, the memorandum says that since May 3, there have been “devastating attacks by the Meitei militias, viz Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun along with Meitei mobs in Greater Imphal area” on Kuki-Zomis living in Imphal as government employees, businessmen, daily wage earners and labourers.
The memorandum lists several incidents where Kuki-Zomi people were allegedly tortured, molested, raped and killed. “Even members of the State Legislative Assembly were not spared,” it said, citing the attack on Thanlon MLA Vungzagin Valte who was beaten and left for dead. Valte’s driver was killed. Two cabinet ministers’ houses – both of them are signatories – were “burnt to ashes,” the memorandum said.
It adds that the chief minister, N. Biren Singh, continues to “wage war against the Kuki-Zo hill tribals by attacking villages in the hill districts almost every day.”
They also call the ongoing violence “a state-sponsored war against Kuki-Zo tribals,” citing several instances where CM Biren and majority Meitei community leaders have allegedly called for violence against Kuki-Zomi people.
“No Kuki-Zo people can go to Imphal, nor government employees posted in Imphal capital and other valley districts can attend their offices,” it says.
Later, it adds, “…[E]ven IAS and MCS officers, and IPS and MPS officer belonging to the Kuki-Zo tribes have been unable to function and discharge their duties as Imphal Valley has also become a valley of death for us.”
Thus, the signatories ask:
“…[I]n order to solve the problems faced by the government employees belonging to the Kuki-Zo tribals and for efficient administration of the districts inhabited by us, the post of Chief Secretary or its equivalent post and the post of DGP or equivalent post need to be immediately created. Besides, other key senior level posts in the civil and police department should also be created in public interest.”
The five districts where the 10 MLAs have asked for high-ranking officials are Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Chandel, Tengnoupal and Pherzaw.
Early in June, the Manipur government had appointed Rajiv Singh, a Tripura-cadre IPS officer as the new Manipur DGP. The incumbent, P. Doungel, was made Officer on Special Duty (Home), which was a post created overnight. Notably, Doungel is a prominent Kuki community member.
Speaking to The Wire, Wilson Hangshing, co-founder of Kuki People’s Alliance (KPA), two MLAs from which have also signed the memorandum, said, “This is a legitimate demand considering the reality on the ground. We can’t access even the Imphal airport. Those from Churachandpur are motoring down a long way to neighbouring Mizoram to take a flight out of Manipur; the Kukis from Kangpokpi are driving down to Nagaland to take a flight. One takes the whole day while Imphal airport is only 70 kms away Churachandpur.”
The MLAs have also noted that they are victims of “systematic ethnic cleansing” and have appealed to the prime minister to sanction Rs 500 crore for “proper rehabilitation of the Kuki-Zomi people.”
In June, the security advisor for the Manipur government, Kuldiep Singh, had announced a relief package of Rs 101.75 crore for those displaced by the violence. It is not clear if disbursement has begun.
Leaders of the Suspension of Operations (SoO) groups of the Kuki community are scheduled to speak to the Union home ministry in New Delhi today. The Wire has exclusively reported that the home ministry had been set to finalise a peace accord with Kuki insurgent groups – which CM Biren had not been in favour of – on May 8. Violence broke out on May 3.