Today, 13th September, 2020, marks the 27th year after thousands of Kuki people were killed by Naga Militants of the National Socialist Council of Naga (Isak-Muivah). The NSCN(IM) is a secessionist underground movement which aims to bring all Naga-inhabited areas in the northeast under one administration. It also works on purpose to create a larger Nagalim.
In 1993, Naga militants murdered over a thousand Kukis which came to be known as ‘Joupi massacre’. This happened in a district called Tamenglong and Kukis call it a genocidal act. The reason behind happening of this incident is that many Kuki households in the hill districts of Manipur were asked to vacate but they did not. The spinal cord of disharmony being that Kukis were required by Naga militants to pay taxes for living in a Naga area that comes under the claim of Greater Nagalim. The Kukis, however, refused to pay the taxes citing that it was unreasonable to pay tax for living on their ancestral lands.
Between 1956 to 1997, Kuki mass killing took place twice i.e 1956-1987 and 1992-1997. The spark of enmity ignited, however, after 1990 due to violence unleashed by militants, resulting in bloodbaths. Almost thousands of Kuki villagers were killed and the same number of them were displaced. We cannot expect Kukis to simply “forget” that incident. The Kukis and Nagas were once peaceful neighbours. Their relationship is now marked by violence and severe enmity. For the Naga militants, the movement for a Greater Nagalim is more crucial than reaching out to the Kuki people for peace. For them, the killings were mere collateral damage in the journey to achieve their goal.
Kuki community has been demanding justice and compensation for so many years. Their demands include justice for the victims, compensation for the affected families, and relocation of the displaced villagers. None of these demands have been granted so far. Kuki National Organisation (KNO) spokesperson Seilen Haokip said, “The demands fell on deaf ears”.
The situation is relatively peaceful now. Kuki community, however, demands the settlement of their problems before the closure of Naga talks. Today, as we mark the 27th year of the deadly massacre, it is a day of utter mourning and immense grief.