Kuki National Organisation (KNO) president and commander-in-chief of Kuki National Army (KNA), PS Haokip, on Thursday has cautioned the central government that the group will not hesitate to go back to the jungles if the right of the Kukis to govern themselves is not respected.
KNO is one of the two umbrella Kuki militant groups, currently engaged in tripartite political dialogue with the Centre and state government. Of the 25 armed Kuki groups operating in the state, 17 are under KNO and eight under the United Peoples’ Front (UPF), another umbrella group.
Both the umbrella groups, whose initial demand was a statehood for Kuki people, signed the tripartite suspension of operation (SoO) agreement with the government on August 22, 2008. Recently, after dropping the statehood demand, they came up with the demand for ‘territorial council’ under the framework of the Indian Constitution.
“KNO is in a political dialogue with the central government where we have consistently been saying that Kukis will feel safe only when our right to govern ourselves in our land is given recognition. We cannot settle for any less. The KNO is ready to stand with Kuki people till this right of ours is respected, and no attempt to trample over our land and rights will be tolerated,” Haokip said.
He asserted that the demand of the Kukis is an absolute necessity for they (Kukis) are not secure and need a certain dignified standard which cannot be denied for a very long time.
Since the signing of the SoO, seven rounds of talks have been held with the first political dialogue taking place in 2016. However, KNO has expressed their unhappiness with the sluggish nature of the talks.
KNO president divulged that Kuki people have become restless to an extent that it is pressuring the group to take a decisive stand.
While substantial talks are yet to begin, the group has reportedly prepared 45 charter of demands with “territorial council” in priority to be tabled in the next round of talks, he said.
Urging the Centre to stop playing games with the group, he warned the government that they are ready to go back to the jungles if talks are not fruitful.
KNO president also expressed his discontentment over the failure of the government to deliver justice to the victims of “Kuki Genocide”, allegedly perpetrated by the cadres of NSCN-IM during the ethnic clash from 1993 to 1997.
The governments, both at the centre and the state, had not only turned a blind eye to the massacre by Th. Muivah and his band of marauders, but also shunned their ears to our cries for justice for a quarter century now, he alleged.
He compared the engagement of the ‘masterminds’ of Kuki genocide (Th. Muivah) in peace talks to allegedly appease their greed for Kukis land, as adding salt to the wounds of the Kukis.