Watch | ‘With Separate Administration Kukis, Meiteis Can Live as Loving Neighbours'

Thangminlen Kipgen, the spokesperson of the Kuki Inpi Manipur, tells Karan Thapar that talks with the Union government should decide if the Kuki demand for a separate administration takes the shape of statehood, UT status or autonomous territorial councils. 

Thangminlen Kipgen, the spokesperson of the Kuki Inpi Manipur, which describes itself as the “apex body of the Kuki tribes”, has said that with separate administration the Kukis and Meiteis can live as “loving neighbours”. Kipgen said as Christians who believe in the love of Jesus, the Kukis are prepared to forget and forgive the Meiteis for the recent troubles and killings but added it could take generations.

In a 35-minute interview with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Kipgen was questioned about the Kuki Inpi proclamation of July 3 which has issued five decrees which have “to be strictly adhered to by all the Kuki people”. Decree three says “we shall collectively strive together until separate administration is realised”. In the interview, Kipgen explained that the Kuki Inpi have three options in mind for the separate administration they seek. These are separate statehood, union territory status and autonomous territorial councils with the additional implementation of the Sixth Schedule of the constitution.

Whilst saying in the interview that the Kuki Inpi would not be equally happy with each of these three options, Kipgen added that talks with the Union government or, possibly the state government, would decide which of the three options comes into being.

In this connection, he made it clear – although he was speaking for himself – that it would be a lot easier to speak with the Union government than with N. Biren Singh. Whilst not ruling out the possibility of speaking to Biren Singh, he said that he is an obstacle. Kipgen also said that the Kuki Inpi would closely consult with Kuki organisations that come under the United People’s Front and the Kuki National Organisation before deciding what form of separate administration is agreed to.

When he was asked at the very start of the interview whether the Kuki Inpi stands by the content as well as the harsh tone and tenor of their proclamation or whether, a week after its publication, they could consider amending and toning it down, Kipgen said that as of now the Kuki Inpi stand by the resolution but added “when the time comes” they could reconsider.

However, it becomes clear from the rest of the interview that if talks at the Union government level are started with the Kukis and progress satisfactorily, the Kuki Inpi might be prepared to reconsider parts of their proclamation or water down the language.