The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kukis find voice in row

Imphal, Aug. 13: Two Kuki organisations have plunged headlong into the controversy over adopting the Nagaland school syllabus in the hill districts of Manipur, asserting that the Kukis constitute the majority in at least a couple of hill districts and the Nagas cannot speak on behalf of all the communities living in the area.

In an open letter addressed to Union human resource development minister Arjun Singh, the Kuki Students Organisation and the Kuki Movement for Human Rights said no decision concerning the hill districts of the state should be taken either by the Centre or by the state government without consulting the communities inhabiting the area.

The letter to the Union minister was jointly signed by Lunsei Touthang, vice-president of the student organisation, and S. Chongloi, vice-president of Kuki Movement for Human Rights.

On Friday, the minister assured a political team from Manipur that he would “never intervene” in the row triggered by the Naga community’s demand to introduce textbooks prescribed by the Nagaland Board of School Education in schools in four hill districts.

This is the first time that the Kukis have urged Delhi not to accept the Naga demand.

The All Naga Students Association of Manipur, with support from the United Naga Council (UNC) — the apex organisation of the Naga community in the state — has been campaigning for affiliation of more than 160 private schools in Ukhrul, Chandel, Tamenglong and Senapati districts to the Nagaland board.

The letter objected to the claim made by Naga NGOs that the four districts belonged to the Nagas. It said the Nagas, with a population of 2,94,586, were actually a “minority”.

The Kukis, with a population of 4,23,227, are the majority in the Manipur hills, it claimed.

“A democratic country like India should not ignore the wishes of the majority and should also take seriously a minority claim,” the letter said.

Stating that districts were not independent entities but a part of the state, the organisations said that any issue pertaining to the Manipur hills should be dealt by the Assembly’s Hill Areas’ Committee.

“The Nagas are the minority. If they want to continue the communal politics, they can speak for the Nagas. They cannot speak on behalf of Manipur’s hill districts without the consent of the majority Kukis,” the letter continued.

Stating that Kukis are “carefully observing” the moves by both the state and central governments in this regard, the Kuki organisations demanded “justice” for all to avoid “unnecessary communal war”.

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