A Manipur based civil society organization (CSO) on Saturday demanded immediate withdrawal of the tripartite suspension of operation (SoO) truce which the government signed with the Kuki based armed groups.
People’s Alliance for Peace and Progress, Manipur (PAPPM) demanded that the tripartite SoO agreement among the government of India, government of Manipur and Kuki based armed groups – Kuki National Organization (KNO) and Zomi Revolutionary Organization (ZRO) should be withdrawn immediately.
The continuation of SoO truce is a big threat not only to the harmonious co-existence of the people of Manipur but also to the national security of India, PAPPM alleged, in a statement.
The copies of the statement dispatched to the media were also forwarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah and Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh as well.
The tripartite ceasefire agreement between KNO and the Central and state governments was first signed on August 22, 2008 and it has been extended from time to time.
A similar agreement was also signed with the ZRO in the same year (2008). While raising the demand, PAPPM alleged that poppy cultivation in the hills of the state was taken up under the patronage of militant groups taking advantage of the SoO.
The quantum of drug smuggling through Manipur has also increased manifold since then.
It is also known that these militant groups were bringing Myanmar nationals and settling them in the hills of Manipur by taking advantage of SoO, the statement alleged. Extortion in some hills districts which were otherwise not affected has also increased dramatically since the militants enjoyed the truce, it said.
The statement added it was not surprising considering that P Soyang Haokip, president and supreme commander of the Kuki National Army (KNA) and the chairman of KNO is of Myanmar origin and was born in Molnoi village in Sagaing division of Myanmar.
Dr Seilen Haokip, the spokesperson of KNO is from Mizoram and was born of a Bengali father and a Kuki mother with strong Myanmar connection.
His mother later became the second wife of a person from the Haokip clan of Saitu in Kangpokpi and thus he got his Haokip surname, the PAPPM revealed.
Similarly, Thang Lian Pau, the president of ZRA/ZRO is a Myanmar national born in Panmwarl village of Tonzang Tsp of Chin state of Myanmar and he was a member of Myanmar Parliament.
He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Mandalay University in 1984, and received a Master of Science degree in 1988 from Rangoon University. He was the general secretary of the Zomi National Congress (ZNC) until December 1991. He became an independent MP after the SLORC banned the ZNC in 1992, the statement further pointed out.
According to Dr Th Siamkhum, the Paites settled in Manipur came from Chin Hills in the 1870s. Dr H Kamkhenthang also wrotein his book, “The Paites, a transborder tribe of Manipur” that the old Kukis came to Manipur in the 16th century and Thadou (New Kuki) in the later part of the 18th century and early part of the 19th centuries, the PAPMM asserted.
It added that he has also mentioned that the Paites came to Manipur only in the later part of the 19th and early part of the 20th century.
“So, it is not surprising that P Soyang Haokip, president of the KNA and the chairman of KNO is now talking of Zale’n-gam, meaning the Land of Freedom for Kukis,” PAPPM said.
Similarly, the ZRA’s proclaimed objective is to “protect the interests of the Zo ethnic groups” and to “unite the Zomi peoples under one state, Zogam”, which overlaps the official state boundaries of India (Manipur and Mizoram), Myanmar (Chin State) and Bangladesh, it pointed out.
Then, the question of why the Centre and Manipur government have undertaken the SoO agreement with these militant groups which are controlled by Myanmar nationals arises naturally, it said.
“It appears that the governments of India and Manipur are helping them to grow militarily under the pretext of peace process by handing over a large tract of land of Manipur under their control and thus sacrificing the national interest in the long run,” it alleged.
It is quite natural that these individuals and organizations controlled by them would not hesitate to sacrifice the interests of the people of Manipur, which includes Zomis, Thadous (New Kukis) settled in Manipur with the permission of the then Maharaja of Manipur.
This is quite evident from the large influx of people from Myanmar in recent times under the patronage of these militant groups and making them settle in various places in hill areas of Manipur without scant respect of law by conspiring with some bureaucrats and politicians.
The continuation of SoO agreement with KNA/KNO under PS Haokip and ZRA/ZRO under Thang Lian Pau is thus a big threat not only to the harmonious co-existence of the people of Manipur but also to the national security of India, the PAPPM said.
The PAPPM alleged that that continuation of SoO agreement with KNA/KNO and ZRA/ZRO is not in the interest of the indigenous people of Manipur living together for many centuries under the Manipur Kingdom in the past and now under the India Union and striving for a peaceful and progressive Manipur and hence Indian nation.
The Central government and state government should immediately withdraw SoO agreement with such militant groups led and run by foreigners against the national interest, it added.
“We welcome the peace process, but it should be initiated only with the leaders who are born and brought up in the state of Manipur,” the PAPPM concluded.