The Kuki-Zomi movement began as a defense against aggression by other groups, but soon turned to a demand for Kukiland.
It has been more than a month but the violence in Manipur is showing no signs of stopping. Amid the latest violence, Manipur CM N Biren Singh told the media that 40 militants have been killed by security forces. However, the Kuki National Organization (KNO) has questioned the CM’s claims.
History of Conflict in Manipur
Manipur has also been in the limelight for India’s oldest militant movements. In the 1950s, the Naga movement and the fight for an independent Nagalim affected parts of Manipur. NSCN-IM had entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Government of India in 1997 itself.
While this movement was raging, the Meiteis in Manipur were also opposing the merger agreement between the Manipuri King – Maharaja Bodhchandra and the Government of India. In 1964, the United National Liberation Front (UNLF) was formed, which sought secession from India. Thereafter, several Meitei rebel groups, or valley rebel groups, came into existence.
These include the People’s Revolutionary Party of Kanglepak (PREPAK) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which received arms and training from China. These groups operated with a dual objective – one, independence from India and second, to shut down the Naga insurgent groups.
The Kuki-Zomi groups were actually a response to Naga aggression against the Kukis. A massacre of Kuki by NSCN-IN in 1993 rendered thousands of Kuki homeless. The Kuki-Zomi tribes then formed a number of armed groups.
Around the same time similar skirmishes were taking place between Meitei and Meitei Pangal (Muslim). This led to the formation of a number of organizations, including the Islamist group People’s United Liberation Front. These groups are no longer active in the region.
What is the reaction of the government?
The Government of India made AFSPA in 1958 in view of Naga separatist activities. Initially it was implemented in parts of Nagaland and Manipur. In view of the movement in the valley, this law was later implemented in the entire state. Manipur was declared a disturbed area in the year 1980. Various peace talks have taken place since the tripartite Suspension of Operations (SOO) agreement between the Centre, the state and the Kuki-Zomi groups in 2008. As the law and order situation gradually improved, AFSPA was withdrawn from many areas.
However, the insurgent groups of the valley never entered into any agreement with the government and did not participate in any peace talks. Technically speaking, he should always be active.
Kuki-Zomi rebel group
The Kuki-Zomi movement began as a defense against aggression by other groups, but soon turned to a demand for Kukiland. Kukiland was a fictional country of the Kuki-Zomi settled peoples of India, Myanmar and Bangladesh. However over time, the movement shifted to a separate state rather than a separate country.
Early groups in the region include the Kuki National Organization and its armed wing the Kuki Revolutionary Army, the Zomi Re-Unification Organization, the Zomi Revolutionary Army, the Kuki National Front, the Kuki National Liberation Front, the United Kuki Liberation Front, and the Kuki National Army.
Which groups dominate?
The UNLF, considered the ‘mother’ of all Meitei insurgent groups, remained the most powerful of the insurgent groups active in the valley until recently. Groups in the Valley sporadically launched ambushes against security forces. The UNLF is believed to have received its initial training from the NSCN-IM.
Other powerful groups such as the KCP and the KYKL emerged over time. They are now operating from the territory of Burma. The power of the valley groups has waned in recent years. The UNLF is now at its weakest, split into three factions due to internal strife. The most prominent of the Naga groups is the NSCN-IM, which has its base in Ukhrul and Senapati districts.