KNO/KNA, with which Union govt is at the negotiating table, is based in Myanmar, says Federation of Haomee, a conglomeration of indigenous communities of Manipur
Imphal: The Federation of Haomee (FoH), a conglomeration of the indigenous communities of the seven clans of Manipur, comprising of 24 ethnic groups, on Saturday raised strong objections on the ongoing tripartite peace talks between the Union government, Manipur government and Kuki armed groups Kuki National Organisation or Kuki National Army (KNO/KNA) under the ‘suspension of operations’ (SoO) agreement.
At a press conference held in Imphal, the federation claimed that the KNO/KNA is a foreign militant outfit based in Myanmar and asked the Centre to abrogate the ongoing talks with them.
The ethnic groups include Aimol, Anal, Chiru, Chothe, Inpui, Kabui, Kharam, Koireng, Kom, Lamkang, Liangmei, Mao, Maram, Maring, Meitei, Mayon, Monsang, Paomai, Purum, Rongmei, Tarao, Thangal, Tangkhul and Zemei.
“We want peace, but in the name of peace, a foreign-based organisation cannot have a peace talk with the government of India,” said FoH secretary-general Vicisy Yazing.
The federation alleged that the Kukis are not the origin settlers of Manipur but were once illegal refugees who infiltrated from neighbouring Myanmar. “Henceforth, to entertain the foreign-based outfits which demand a separate state or territory for Kuki community in Manipur will not render justice to the people of the state,” it said.
Kukis in Myanmar, as claimed by the federation, are known as Chins and they are demanding their statehood in the neighbouring country as well with the support of its militant outfits. Moreover, families related to the extremist groups enjoy dual citizenship, both in India and Myanmar.
On the other hand, the federation also submitted a memorandum to the chief minister N Biren Singh objecting the political peace talks between the Centre and Kuki militant groups.
On the memorandum, the federation also claimed that Indian interlocutor AB Mathur had allegedly agreed in principle to award a territorial council on the lines of Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) in Assam to the Kukis in Manipur. The demand for Kuki Territorial Council cannot be equated with the BTC in Assam as the Kukis are refugees and foreigners, whereas the Bodos are indigenous people of Assam.
According to the union, in 1992, a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was also signed between the then chief minister Rishang Keishing, Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) and Committee on Restorations and Protection of Human Rights of NSF in presence of the then chief secretary H V Goswami in regards to the foreign-based extremist outfit.
“Whereas the state government has admitted that the so-called Kuki National Army is a foreign-based extremist outfit carrying out nefarious activities committing a heinous crime and disturbing the peace and tranquillity of the state,” read the document.
“Whereas foreign nationals are also infiltrating into Manipur through Moreh area with the support of this extremist outfit and surreptitiously obtaining an illegal settlement in India,” it added.
According to R K Rajendra Singh, one of the core committee members of the federation, the Kuki community came to Manipur from Myanmar during the reign of Maharaj Nara Singh between 1845 and 1850.
However, due to the lack of a proper mechanism to check the number of immigrants’ influx to the state, there has been a drastic increase in the number of Kuki villages. It has gone up from 250 to over 3,000 villages now, he added.