Social activisit RK Sanayaima alias Meghen, in an exclusive interview to the Imphal Free Press, has appealed to the Kuki militants operating under SoO agreement to develop a deep affection for Manipur and uphold the spirit of peaceful coexistence.
Talking about the present unrest in Manipur to this reporter at a location in Imphal on Thursday, Meghen expressed serious concern and stated that the violence and unrest in Manipur stems from the significant influx of Myanmar-based Kuki.
The social activist also revealed that there are as many as 1,550 unregistered Kuki villages in Manipur.
Meghen stressed that this illegal influx not only encroaches upon Manipur's territory but also poses a threat of establishing a separate territory, which is unacceptable.
Expressing concern over regrettable incidents of violence targeting the Meetei community in peripheral regions and certain hill districts of the state, Meghen termed them “hugh historical blunder”.
He stressed that the Meetei community has always advocated for peaceful coexistence among all ethnic groups in the state and emphasised the need to heal the wounds, acknowledging that the healing process would require time and effort.
The former rebel leader acknowledged the heightened emotional sentiments resulting from the crisis and emphasised that healing the wounds would require significant time and effort.
Meghen further criticised both the state and central governments for their inadequate response in addressing the issue of immigrant influx, which has contributed majorly to the current state of unrest in Manipur.
While the central government has committed to preserving Manipur's territorial integrity amid the growing demand for a separate administration, the deteriorating law and order situation in the state raises concerns, he further said.
Meghen also voiced the increasing complaints from the public regarding security forces, particularly the central forces, allegedly aligning with the Kuki militants.
Despite the deployment of a significant number of central security personnel (approximately 40,000), violence-hit Manipur lacks visible stability and law enforcement, he said.
“It appears that the security forces, who were airlifted to Manipur to control the devastating situation, had been briefed to protect the Kuki militants and suppressed the Meitei (Meetei) community,”he said.
Political dynamics at various levels within the issue were also highlighted by the former rebel leader.
He pointed out the lack of progress in the tripartite SoO agreement signed in 2008 between certain Kuki militant groups, the state government, and the central government.
Meanwhile, militant groups under SoO have been freely roaming with weapons, indicating the apparent intentions of the central government, he added.
Urging the need for strong defenses against frequent attacks by Kuki militants in peripheral areas, he emphasised the role of local clubs and organisations in ensuring effective defense measures.
Additionally, he called for sincerity from stakeholders and civil society organisations, urging them not to take a one-sided approach but rather guide the public towards the path of peace.
Furthermore, the former rebel leader stressed the importance of emotional unity among the people of Manipur for peaceful coexistence and called for efforts to identify and repatriate infiltrators from Myanmar-based Kuki.
“Foreigners should be treated as such and those who entered without proper permits should be pushed out,” he said.
Manipur has been gripped by violence and unrest for over 50 days now. The series of events that unfolded since May 3 in Churachandpur district have claimed more than 100 lives, injured hundreds others and rendered over 50,000 people displaced.
The continuing violence and arson have also caused large-scale damage to properties belonging to both the Meitei and Kuki communities. The crisis has deepened as incidents of firing and arson continued in the periphery regions of the valley despite the deployment of security personnel for the protection of people living there.