Political dialogue with UPF and KNO begins at New Delhi
New Delhi, Wed, June 15:
In a 'historic moment' for the Kuki community, the Government of India held the first round of 'Political Dialogue' with the United People's Front (UPF) and Kuki National Organization (KNO), the two conglomerates of Kuki UG groups at Ashoka Hotel in the national capital today.
The political talk today at New Delhi was chaired by Satyendra Garg, IPS, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, who had replaced Shambhu Singh last year while in the presence of Brig. Prasad, Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI), Col. Amit Tewatia, DGMI, Lt. Col. Pankaj Sharma, Director General Military Operations (DGMO).
Manipur state Government has been represented by Dr. J. Suresh Babu, Addl. Chief Secretary (Home), Govt. of Manipur and P. Doungel, ADGP (Intelligence).
While the six members representative of United People's Front (UPF) was led by Aaron Kipgen, Spokesperson UPF while KNO Spokesperson Seilen Haokip led the another six members representative on the part of Kuki National Organization (KNO).
Speaking over the phone, UPF Spokesperson Aaron Kipgen said that since the signing of tripartite SoO agreement by the two conglomerate Kuki UG groups, UPF and KNO with the Government of India and Government of Manipur in 2008, UPF and KNO has been pressurizing the Governments to appoint an interlocutor who could facilitate 'Political Dialogue' between UPF and KNO.
He continued that after eight years of patience and hard work Government of India has bestow us an opportunity to lay out our political demands on the table so that the vexed political issue of the Kukis could be settled amicably.
Reacting to the clarification sought on the part of the UPF and KNO delegates for non-appointment of interlocutor for the political talk, Mr. Satyendra Garg said that, "Government has decided to deal UPF and KNO issue directly so as to expedite the process of the political dialogue but if need arise with time interlocutor will be appointed", stated the UPF Spokesperson.
"Beginning the Political Dialogue with interlocutor does not in any way affect the status or dignity of the talk", Aaron said as Mr. Satyendra Garg saying.
The UPF Spokesperson further said that while other ethnic group of the hill area of Manipur is on the verge of reaching a political settlement while they have already been taken abroad it is pertinent on the part of the Governments to look upon the political demands of the Kukis or the UPF and KNO.
On query, Aaron Kipgen said that the Governments has decided to look into the political demands put forward today while adding that the second round of talks would be held again at the national capital as and when the Governments inform.
A joint representation on the outline of the political demand for Statehood jointly signed by Aaron Kipgen, UPF Spokesperson and Seilen Haokip, KNO Spokesperson was also submitted to the Government of India.
The KNO and UPF proposed settlement of Kuki people's political demand within the framework of the Indian Constitution and in accordance with Article 3 in the Constitution of India, statehood for the Kuki people, comprising lands in the hills of Manipur for which the Chieftains possess legal land title (Patta) as the core points as basis for the political dialogue in its lengthy three paged joint representation while adding that the full text of the political demand will be furnished as and when progress of the talks determine.
It also includes a non-exhaustive list to provide details of discrimination of the Kukis which included denial of Sadar Hills, denial of Tribal Protection under the Sixth Schedule, the Eight Schedule, disparity in development, state Government renders Hill Area Committee, e.g. in regard to the Inner Line Permit related Three Bills, denial of proportionate representation and Land Alienation and Annexation of Tribal land.
As mentioned in the representation, the two conglomerate of the Kuki UG Group, KNO and UPF seek statehood primarily to ensure political stability in their land and set in place adequate security measures followed by the need to do away with the alleged decade of inequitable development, gross discrimination and exploitation of their people and land by the majoritarian Meitei led Manipur Government.
It also stated that the states in Indian Union were created along ethno-lingual lines, e.g. Tamil Nadu for Tamils, Nagaland for Nagas, Mizoram for Mizos. Therefore, it is only fair that a separate state be accorded for our people ([The Kukis].
While illustrating the Kuki lands in Manipur, it said that prior to British incursion, Kuki Chieftains held sway over the entire hills of Manipur. In the present day, Kuki lands for which the Chieftains possess legal land titles (Patta) includes areas covered by ADC Churachandpur, Sadar Hills, Chandel and Kuki in Ukhrul, Senapati and Tamenglong districts.
It further said that sixty-seven years since the merger of Manipur to the India Union and the same number of years of experiences fraught with disillusionment under the administration of Manipur, in the best interest of the Kuki people, principally with regard to security (of people and land), and followed by political stability, development and co-existence with all our neighbors, the KNO and UPF opts for restoration of Self-Determination, the status quo of the pre-British era.
Self-determination, it said, is defined in the context of the Indian Union and refers to 'Statehood' while adding that it [KNO and UPF], as a loyal citizens of the country, seeks statehood within the provisions of Article 3 in The Constitution of India, which is the best possible solution for the Kuki people's predicament and to achieve this objective the Kuki armed movement was formed in 1987.
The backdrop: Historical, in the joint representation, said that the Kukis people are one of the three main indigenous peoples of Manipur while Naga and Meitei are the other two. The three major communities have co-existed throughout history. The status quo, however, was altered with rise of Naga nationalism led by National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak and Muivah, and assertion of Meitei hegemony in Manipur by the United National Liberation Front and other valley based insurgent groups.
Manipur is a British construct, reinforced in Independent India, it further said while adding that a Meitei academic, Prof. Saroj Nalini Arambam Paratt unequivocally states that the term Manipur 'is not used at all until the British period'. Prior to the colonialists' incursion, the Meitei Ningthou ruled over his people in Kangleipak, which comprise the valley, not the hills, the fiefdom of Kuki Chieftains, who ruled over Kukis and dwelt in villages similar to Greek-city states.
It further stated that cordial relations and mutual respect prevailed between the Meitei Ningthou and the Kuki Chieftains. Neither impinged on either's political authority or territorial integrity-a status quo, consistent with the ethos of the United Nations for peace in the world.
It said that both Meitei and Kukis opposed British colonialism to safeguard their respective lands, albeit, independently-without reciprocal support- notwithstanding friendly relations, the former resistance culminated with the Khongjom War of 1892 and latter's with the 'Kuki Rising, 1917-1919' or 'Kuki Rebellion, 1917-1919'.
It also stated that the Meitei Ningthou gave his assent to Merger of Manipur with the Indian Union in 1949 while the Kuki Chieftains, not under the authority of the Meitei Ningthou, strove to prevent the Merger, but later acquiesced to their people and land being included within the administration of Manipur.