Nagalim Voice July/August 2023
THE MYTH OF ZALENGAM (KUKILAND) IN NAGA ANCESTRAL LAND
The never ending Meitei-Kuki ethnic turmoil in Manipur is going the way driving the Kuki-Zo community to an unprecedented “geopolitical identity crisis” in the midst of the vast scale of devastation, charges and counter-charges of committing crime against humanity, unparalleled in this 21st century in the Northeast.
Amidst the acrimonious upheaval, the Kuki-Zo people are desperately trying to re-construct their social-political and psychological standing from the cobwebs of ethnic violence.
It was under this sticky situation that Zalengam agenda that was conceived years ago surfaced and exploded with catastrophic effects. The Meiteis led by Chief Chief Minister Mr. N. Biren Singh have disdainfully branded the Kuki-Zo as illegal immigrants and far from being one of the indigenous groups of Manipur, pointing towards the shifting demographics in Manipur. This is how the overblown Zalengam landed in tight corner. With the alarming demographic changes taking place in Manipur the Meiteis simply refused to compromise.
The Kuki-Zo people were also accused of indulging in narco-terrorism to achieve Zalengam or Kuki-Zo state. Thus, in the present context of Meitei-Kuki ethnic conflict, identity means who the Kuki-Zo are as members of socio-political groups in Manipur and how others perceive and label them and how the Kuki-Zo people have been preparing for Zalengam (Kuki-Zo nation) for years through falsehood and concoction of history. How this is going to be easier said than done as the “grandiose dream” for Zalengam face the risk of coming into direct collision with the “Indo-Naga Framework Agreement” signed between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN).
To further their case, the Kuki-Zo leaders went for desperate campaign to establish their ethnic identity. Faced with terror and trepidation in the hands of the Meiteis and the state police forces, the Kuki-Zo intellectuals hurriedly organized themselves under the nomenclature of World Kuki-Zo Intellectual Council (WKZIC) to present their ethnic root and socio-political status on the strength of their concocted history before the Prime Minister of Israel Mr. Netanyahu claiming themselves as descendant of Joseph (one of the lost tribes of Israel). Similar memorandum was also submitted to the UN. The two memorandums pleaded for help in establishing a Kuki state (Zalengam).
Aggravating as it is, the Zalengam plan that was leaked out to the media stated that Zalengam-Kukiland has to be propagated by means of concocting the history to brainwash the Kuki-Zo people and others into believing the Zalengam/Kukiland/Zogam ideas. For this purpose, fund has to be generated by indulging in drug trading and promoting poppy cultivation. To justify their claim, they have to go for demographic engineering for total area domination and concoct the “Anglo-Kuki War”, to lend some kind of weight and legitimacy towards creating the Zalengam. But to the many with clear historical knowledge, the Anglo-Kuki War was found to be nothing less than a misnomer, a claim that finds no historical support/evidence.
In what can be termed as turning blind eyes to “political correctness”, when the situation is going through vulnerable stage, NSCN’s name was brought forth by WKZIC as “cessationist militant group” linked with “Ethnic Cleansing”, “Kuki genocide”. This offensive (provocative) style of using NSCN’s name rendered WKZIC’s salvo against NSCN unpalatable as these words are quite toxic and WKZIC made veiled reference to NSCN without having the courage to see through the prism of historical context. The recorded historical fact, however, said it was the Kuki group KNA (Kuki National Army) that placed themselves at the disposal of the Government of India as mercenary forces to finish off the Naga political movement within five years. This indelible record will stand as a testimony to prove who the Kuki-Zo people are against the Nagas, despite their fabricated defence of their ancestry and historical narratives.
By using cessationist militant group NSCN, the World Kuki-Zo Intellectual Council (WKZIC) proved themselves ignorant of the historical truth of the Naga history and political rights as a people and as a nation. That Nagalim was never an integral of India either by conquest or consent is a matter of historical record, acknowledged by the Government of India when it officially granted recognition to the unique history of the Nagas in the Indo-Naga Joint Communique, Amsterdam (Netherlands), July 11, 2002 and followed by signing the historic Framework Agreement on the 3rd August, 2015, giving recognition to the sovereign identity of the Nagas on the basis of the unique history of the Nagas.
To claim Zalengam or Kuki state on the basis of concocted history is dangerous in today’s context. To use “Ancestral lands” without historical indigenous support are sensitive words and cannot be used for “ancestral glorification” as it involves geopolitical risk. “Poisonous concoction” of history will never find universal acceptance, however impressive it is presented. Such a “repulsive concoction” and “bewildering historical claim” will not stand the test of historical scrutiny.
For the same reason the WKZIC’s demand for “Separate Administration” face the risk of coming into collision course with the Nagas because it is the land that will define the geo-political and demographic profiling. Identity and land are synonymous. This timeless truth is a universal maxim that should always governs Kuki-Zo’s interactions while demanding for separate administration/Zalengam. But in no way it should come overriding the Naga’s geopolitical sentiment.
There is also the irony when the Kuki-Zo intellectuals indulged in uncontrolled emotional outburst to draw the attention of the Government of India on Kuki-Zo’s demand for separate administration but not in a good taste for the Nagas. “The Nagas have killed so many Indian Armies, whereas Kukis do not kill Indian Armies, we demand separate administration under the Indian Constitution, unlike the Nagas”. Such a toxics reference to the Nagas simply made their campaign nothing more than a desperate rhetoric.
Pathetic is the unrealistic physical map of the proposed Kuki State that covers most of the Naga territories, even claiming some of the major Naga tribes as belonging to the Kuki family. Such “bewildering concoction” and “wanton distortion” will not help Kuki-Zo case in any manner as history is not established on concoction and falsehood.
While the Nagas have expressed solidarity with the Kuki-Zo community on the issue of “crime against humanity”, they should tread very carefully and never overdo and avoid pandering in the name of “Zalengam”. Under the given situation demanding for “separate administration” or “Kuki state” is a hugely emotive issue that may unleash new political dynamics if wisdom and good judgement is not exercise with foresight. Thus, a political risk assessment is critically important for the Kuki-Zo community as the Nagas would not allow war-mongering intrusion/provocation into their ancestral domain.
The Naga people’s political struggle over the defence of God given land has crossed more than 7 decades and involves more than 250,000 lives with unbearable burden and sufferings in the hands of our adversaries. This is a living testimony that land and people can never part. Therefore, the Naga territories are more precious than anything else. All said and done, the Nagas are not oppose to Separate Administration for Kuki-Zo community but it should not touch even an inch of Naga territory for creating separate administrative zone for them. The Nagas can never compromise in the matter of political identity that is defined by land and people with clear history down the ages.
For this reason, Kuki-Zo should take extra care to exercise “political correctness” while sloganeering in desperation to establish geopolitical identity in the form of Zalengam/Kukiland/Zogam or “separate administration”. Geopolitical movement should not be heat up by taking support on falsehood and concoction narrative.