Kuki chiefs strengthens call of independence


Newmai News NetworkIMPHAL, April 13: Kuki chief association of Sadar Hills in Manipur spoke in one voice saying that the Kukis have been an independent tribe in the hills of Manipur even before the incursion of the British, which the Rajas of Manipur have attested successively by not interfering into the affairs of the hills. A draft resolution for the extension of 6th schedule has also been passed. 
Speaking in a program, “awareness campaign on the proposed Manipur (village authority in the hill areas) amendment act, 2011, and its effects on hill tribal lands”, organized by Sadar Hills Chief Association Manipur (SAHILCA) at council hall in Kangpokpi today, Tongpu Kipgen, president of SAHILCA vouched strongly about the independence of Kukis in the hills of Manipur. “The Kukis neither sign any sort of merger agreement with the Union of India nor sought compensation like the Raja of Manipur.” This singularly proves the independence of Kukis in the hills, he said.
R Sanga attended the awareness program as a resource person and addressed the gathering on the topic Manipur (village authority in hill areas). “The sole purpose of seeking amendment of Manipur hill village authority act, 1956, is to dominate and control the hills of Manipur,” he said.
He went on to say that even the government of India acknowledges the judiciary power vested on Kuki chiefs which is anchored on the customary laws of the Kukis. “In July 21, 1939, Manipur durbar excluded hill areas of Manipur from direct control.” The amendment of the act has been a bone of contention with representatives from central government visiting Manipur three times over. Sanga asked if the State government does not take up positive initiation, how can one expect the central government to initiate the process?
The fact remains that for the tribal people in the hills of Manipur, there is no constitutional safeguard except for 371-C of the Constitution of India that provides for the institution of hill area committee, he argued. “Only the provision under 6th schedule can guarantee such safeguard.”
Dr T Lunkim, who was also one of the resource persons in the function, cited history to maintain the independence of Kukis in the hills of Manipur. He was speaking on the topic chieftainship institution.
He said that the “Kuki Country” or “Independent Hill Country” of the Kukis has been a free country before the British usurped into the rights and freedom of the Kukis who have been living in the present day Myanmar and India, straddling between two modern nations. Since the Britishers were unable to tame the fiery battle-hardened Kuki chiefs of “Kuki Rebellion 1917-19”, they were arrested and isolated in remote jails. The Kuki chiefs were persuaded to become subservient by the British, but they pledge the independence.
On the issue of Sadar Hills, he said that the Parliament of India had sanctioned in 1971 for the creation of six hill districts in Manipur of which Sadar Hills district is one. If there is an issue with the creation of Sadar Hills district, there is an issue with other hill districts as well. Sadar Hills district can not be spoken of in isolation but in coterminous with the other 5 hill districts of Manipur.
The awareness campaign was attended by some 150 Kuki village chiefs. A draft resolution was also passed at the end of the function which said that “village authority act and district council act can not be allowed to be amended until and unless 6th schedule has been extended to Manipur.”


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