Home India More Kuki-Zo Groups Call For Election Boycott In Manipur

More Kuki-Zo Groups Call For Election Boycott In Manipur

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More Kuki-Zo Groups Call For Election Boycott In Manipur

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'If Suffering Is Deemed Our Right...': More Kuki-Zo Groups Call For Election Boycott In Manipur

Two “village defence volunteers” were killed in Manipur’s Kangpokpi, Kuki-Zo groups have said

Imphal/Guwahati:

The Kuki National Assembly (KNA) has condemned the killing of two “village defence volunteers” in Manipur’s Kangpokpi district on Saturday, allegedly by an armed group from the valley. The KNA appealed to the Kuki-Zo tribes not to vote in the Lok Sabha elections in protest against what it called atrocities against the tribes.

In a statement, the KNA alleged the Arambai Tenggol, supported by forces, attacked Kangpokpi’s Phailengmol area and killed the two “village defence volunteers”.

“… If suffering is deemed our right in India, then we choose not to participate in the Indian parliament elections,” the KNA said in a statement signed by its spokesperson Mangboi Haokip.

Armed groups in both sides call themselves “village defence volunteers”, a definition of the belligerents in Manipur that has become the most controversial since nothing stops these “volunteers” from killing under the insurance provided by “in self-defence”, and in the absence of any monitoring or accountability.

“It is disheartening that Indian forces, capable of preventing and countering threats from China and Pakistan, have failed to protect innocent citizens… This has led to a loss of faith in the Indian Constitution and its claim to being the world’s largest democracy,” Mr Haokip said.

“In light of the apathy shown towards the minority Kuki ethnic people in Manipur, we feel compelled to abstain from voting in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections to express our anguish towards the Indian leadership,” he said.

The KNA alleged the forces gave covering fire for the Arambai Tenggol before they attacked the hill and killed the two “village defence volunteers”.

Mr Haokip alleged the bodies were mutilated and dragged on a road. Graphic visuals purportedly of this incident have appeared on social media.

“We urge every Kuki-Zo ethnic person to support the election boycott resolution passed by the Kuki Inpi Manipur and other intellectual groups. This boycott serves as a means to convey our pain and suffering to India and the world,” Mr Haokip said.

The KNA joins a long list of Kuki-Zo groups that have called a boycott of the Lok Sabha elections. The Global Kuki-Zomi-Hmar Women community, a group of Kuki-Zo women, including journalists, social workers, former Outer Manipur MP Kim Gangte and leaders of the Kuki-Zomi-Hmar women’s forums in Delhi, had written to Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar informing him of their decision to boycott the polls.

In a statement issued on Saturday, the Kuki-Zo group Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) said, “Central security forces are deployed to maintain peace and remain neutral, but their actions today have raised many questions ahead of the Lok Sabha election.”

Valley Civil Society Groups’ Allegations

Valley civil society organisations have made counter-allegations that farmers who had gone to the hills to collect firewood were tortured, killed and mutilated by armed groups that are holed up in bunkers.

One of them lying with his face towards the ground was hit with a spade on his neck before he was shot multiple times from point-blank range with an assault rifle, shows a purported video of the killing in January. Anyone from the valley going near the foothills for farming are shot without provocation, civil society organisations have alleged.

The ethnic violence in Manipur over cataclysmic disagreements on land, resources, political representation, and affirmative action policies has dragged on for 11 months now. Over 210 were killed in the violence and more than 50,000 were internally displaced.

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