Watch | Meitei Pride Group’s Threat: ‘Kukis Mainly Illegal, Modi Must Intervene or There’ll Be Civil War’

Pramot Singh, the chief of the Meitei Leepun, tells Karan Thapar that the Kukis are “outsiders” who are “not indigenous to Manipur”. He described them as “tenants” in the state.

In an interview which reveals the anguish and sense of injustice felt by a section of the Meitei people as well as their deep dislike of the Kukis, Pramot Singh – the chief of the Meitei Leepun – has said that if the government, either in Delhi or in Manipur, does not intervene quickly, “there will be civil war”, adding, “the Kukis will not be able to defend themselves”. Singh made clear this was a warning to both governments.

Talking about the civil war that he claimed would happen if the government does not intervene, Singh spoke about a 15-kilometre area where, he claimed, the Kukis have set up roadblocks and encroachments, stating bluntly that they would be “wiped out” in that area.

Pramot Singh, who flew from Imphal to Delhi specifically for this interview, claimed the Kukis are “outsiders”. He said “they are not part of the family”, adding they are “not indigenous to Manipur”. He described them as “tenants” in Manipur.

More importantly, he claimed that “the majority of Kukis are illegal” although he did not have any facts to back it.

My impression is that right through the interview the deep dislike that he personally and his organisation seem to feel for the Kukis becomes very obvious and unmistakable. However, I’ll leave you to see the interview and judge for yourself rather than colour your opinion.

This is an interview with the chief of one of the Meitei organisations which has played a critical role in the present troubles in Manipur and faces several accusations of violence, looting and burning of churches. All of this is put to Singh one by one.

Pramot Singh explains he “worships” Biren Singh because the Manipur chief minister “understands the Meitei problems with the Kukis and is standing up for Meitei rights”. He accepts that the Meitei Leepun is involved in giving gun training to people who have gun licences. Singh says Meitei Leepun has no official connection with the RSS or other Hindutva groups but says that he is personally a member of the ABVP and heavily influenced by it. He says Meitei Leepun has no relationship with the Arambai Tenggol – another Meitei organisation that is accused of involvement in the violence by the Kukis – and, he adds, when he’s tried to meet them they have refused. That suggests there could be differences between the two organisations.

Not only does Singh respond to accusations that the Meitei Leepun have been involved in looting armouries, burning churches and entering police stations but he also is questioned about his tweet of April 28 which says, “Let’s annihilate our traditional rival on the hills.” He’s also questioned about his tweet of May 2 (24 hours before the troubles began) where the Meitei Leepun official Twitter handle called for a counter-blockade adding, “it’s our duty to enforce our position physically”.

Singh, at length, explains why he believes the Kukis are indulging in illegal immigration, as a result of which he claims that today the majority are illegal. He is cross-questioned about this claim.

One important thing Singh makes clear, two or three times, is that he neither supports nor opposes the Meitei demand for Scheduled Tribe status. He calls it “untimely”. He says he is neutral about it. Given his position as the chief of the Meitei Leepun, this is a particularly significant point.