It is not only about grievances against the policies of the Manipur government which they find offensive or oppressive, but they also say they could no longer live together with the Meiteis in the state. That is why they are seeking a separate administration or direct rule under the Centre or a Union Territory status, as they continue to explain. The part about having grievances against the state government, that much we can understand as many sections in the valley also have grievances against the policies of the government. And, it is not something which is unique to Manipur.
So, we are at a loss when they say, they could no longer live together with the Meiteis. What have the Meiteis as a community done to attract such enmity or hatred? Meiteis are not that secure in Churachandpur, Kangpokpi or Moreh as they should be while trying to eke out a living or running a business in these places. Somehow, they felt the indigenous Kuki brotherhood would not harm or go against the Meitei brothers. Suddenly on May 3, 2023, Meiteis were chased away from the Kuki dominated areas and their homes razed to the ground.
We had tried to explain this unexpected phenomenon earlier. Why is it that, they need to bring the Meiteis as a community into a political one-upmanship between the chief minister and the Kuki MLAs, who were supporting him. As we said before, those calling the shots among the Kukis and their kindred are the drug lords who are financing poppy cultivation and drug business in the state besides the politicians and the militant outfits as well. They also realised that, they need to bring the Meitei population in the vortex so that their opposition to the anti-drug campaign and poppy cultivation is not interpreted as against the policies of the state government.
Well, that is their game-plan. The aspiration for a separate Kuki homeland was there for quite sometime and it was ignited to draw support from the Kuki populace by building anti-Meitei sentiment. After May 3, they closed the highways restricting movement of Meiteis in the hills besides chasing them out. The central forces were made to establish buffer zones in hill ranges surrounding the valley on the plea that state forces and Meitei militia groups are out to annihilate them. No one goes in or out from the Kuki dominated areas, while no government officer other than Kukis are posted in the Kuki areas.
Kuki students studying in various institutions in Imphal and other areas of the valley have moved out to the areas dominated by them, and except for a few families most Kuki families are living in either Kangpokpi or Churachandpur. They have even constructed a motorable road in the surrounding hills connecting Churachandpur with Kangpokpi and they have a national highway which connects Churachandpur with Mizoram.
Although the Imphal-Dimapur highway is restricted for Meiteis, the Kukis could travel on the highway and receive aid as they have no quarrel with the Nagas. Meanwhile, they had manipulated a way out for schools in Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts to be affiliated to CBSE through some of their officers in the Centre. And, they thought the gameplan for a separate administration is complete.
Well, it so happened that it needs much more than ‘dominated’ territory and administrators in seeking a separate existence. It needs infrastructure in so many areas and the most basic of all healthcare and education besides manpower. For example, the state government had established the first medical college for the hill districts in Churachandpur.
Where does the manpower, including doctors and nurses, besides technical staff for the medical college or for that matter any hospital in the Kuki areas come from? It is mostly from the valley or say from the Meiteis. Do they have enough manpower who are qualified to man the health centres or do they have enough teachers to man the schools and colleges in the Kuki dominated areas?
Now, they are whining about the lack of proper medical facilities which is causing unnecessary deaths and complications in the national media. Is it the fault of the Meiteis that they have closed all the highways and entry of valley people in their areas? It is time for them to ponder on these issues.