Watch | 'A Separate Administration is the Best Solution to the Kuki-Meitei Crisis in Manipur'

Prof. Kham Khan Suan Hausing tells Karan Thapar in an interview that a truth and reconciliation commission must follow the framework of separate administration to ensure that both communities live as peaceful harmonious neighbours.  

One of the most highly regarded professors of political science, whose articles on the crisis in Manipur have appeared in several publications, now believes that “there seems no alternative to a separate administration for the Kukis” adding that “the central government must decide its political shape and form”.

Prof. Kham Khan Suan Hausing says suggestions he offered in articles (for instance, The Hindu) in early May to resolve the land problem in Manipur have been overtaken by time. In May, he thought “genuine recognition and substantive accommodation of territorial rights and identities” could make the land issue resolvable within a united Manipur. Six weeks later, he doesn’t believe that is the case. Only a separate administration can tackle this issue.

In a 50-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Prof Hausing said there is one suggestion he made in May that still applies, even though he now believes a separate administration is the best solution to the Kuki-Meitei crisis in Manipur. This is the need for a truth and reconciliation commission. As he put it, even if the two communities are to separate, they still need to live as peaceful harmonious neighbours and this is why, even after granting separate administration to the Kukis, there’s a need for a truth and reconciliation commission.

Asked by The Wire if he can think of a person of stature who’s highly regarded by both communities who could initiate this, Prof. Hausing suggested the well-known playwright Ratan Thiyam.

One corollary – but a very significant one – of Prof. Hausing’s position, that only a separate administration for the Kukis can resolve the problem between them and the Meitei, is that it would also lay the ground for the longstanding claim made by Manipuri Nagas for merger with Nagaland. Prof. Hausing accepts this. He also accepts this would reduce Manipur to just the Imphal Valley. The big critical question is would the central government – not just the present one but any central government – accept a solution that entails the effective break-up of Manipur.

Because these are contentious issues, though raised by a highly regarded political scientist who knows Manipur well, I will leave you to see the interview for yourself. I do not think it’s right for me to further paraphrase.

What I will point out is that the interview begins with a brief discussion of the background and causes of the present violence and killings in Manipur. That is essential because, on that basis, the interview proceeds to discuss the steps necessary to tackle the crisis. These steps are broken into two. Those that must be taken immediately. Followed by those that address deep-seated issues.

The immediate steps that are discussed are three. First, the need for President’s Rule. Second, the need to ensure curfew is effectively implemented. Third, the need for Prime Minister Modi to use his authority, popularity and the high regard he’s held to appeal to the warring communities in Manipur.

The discussion of how to resolve the deep-seated issues begins with the question can they be resolved within a united Manipur, or has the time come to accept the Kuki demand for a separate administration? It’s at this point that Prof. Hausing explains why he believes a separate administration is necessary.

Only after this do we touch on earlier suggestions (made in May in The Hindu) by Prof. Hausing on how to tackle the land problem and the collapse of trust. Prof. Hausing explains that his solution (made in May) for the land problem is now overtaken. It will be resolved through a separate administration. But he believes that the need for a truth and reconciliation commission to tackle the collapse of trust remains important even after a separate administration is granted.