Dimapur, October 30: The Naga Scholars’ Association (NSA) organized a panel discussion on ‘Ethnic conflicts in Manipur: Issues and challenges’ on October 26 at the School of International Studies (SIS), JNU, New Delhi. The panellists were Dr Tuisem Ngakang and Dr Khole Timothy Poumai.
According to a NSA release, both the panelists focused on the Naga-Kuki conflict, particularly on the genesis of the conflict, nature of the conflict, and the major incidents. They traced the genesis of the conflict to the 19th century when the Kukis migrated to the Naga areas (of present Manipur state) from Myanmar (erstwhile Burma) and subsequent British deployment of the immigrant Kukis to help check the unrest of the Nagas against the British interference. In the process of helping the British to subdue the Naga unrest, the Kukis also took undue advantage of acquiring lands for themselves in the Naga areas, they said.
However, they were met with stiff encounters from the Naga villages, although some Kukis could avail some lands for settlement by paying royalty to the Naga villages concerned. In all such Kuki villages, the names of the new Kuki villages were prefixed by the names of the Naga villages concerned.
The discourse also gave an insight as to how the Naga-Kuki relationship took a very different turn in the 1990s which conflict caused a huge casualty to both the Nagas and the Kukis with hundreds of people dead, hundreds of houses burnt and massive displacement of villagers.
The panelists as well as the participants took cognizance of the scheme of observation of ‘Sahnit’ (Kuki Black Day). One most crucial concern that emerged was how the Kuki community and the media have been painting a lopsided picture by projecting the Kukis as the victim of the episode. The scholars observed that the observation of ‘Sahnit’ (Kuki Black Day) has been nothing but playing victim card to pursue the hidden agenda to illegally claim Naga lands. The scholars expressed anguish over the message of the 25th anniversary of Sahnit organized by Kuki Inpi, Churachandpur from September 11-13, 2018 which tries to perpetuate the conflict rather than look for peace, and considers as a dangerous move which will only beget a vicious cycle of violence.
Dr. Tuisem stressed that it is more important to focus toward building stronger relationship rather than considering the other as a threat. This is for the fact that Nagas and Kukis will always live as neighbours. He opined that both communities can offer many good things to one another. He felt that the scholars have a crucial responsibility towards rebuilding trust for a better future of the Nagas and Kukis.
Prof. Yaruingam Awungshi, the chair of the panel discussion, concluded by submitting that the Nagas and Kukis should learn to live as good neighbours by reflecting on the South African experience where truth and reconciliation went hand in hand.
(Page News Service)