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Manipur unrest: Kuki misgivings on Meira Paibis hit truce bid

Response of the Kuki-Zo women reflects the deep divide the violence that erupted on May 3 has created between the Meitei and Kuki communities

Umanand Jaiswal Guwahati Published 27.07.23, 06:54 AM
NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma.

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma. File photo

A Kuki-Zo women’s delegation from Churachandpur said on Tuesday that they had turned down a “proposal” of the National Commission for Women to arrange a meeting between Meira Paibis (Meitei women torchbearers) and Kuki-Zo women at a “neutral” venue so that they can “jointly stand together for the cause of women” affected in the ongoing unrest in Manipur.

The response of the Kuki-Zo women reflects the deep divide the violence that erupted on May 3 has created between the Meitei and Kuki communities.

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NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma landed in Manipur on Tuesday morning to take stock of the atrocities committed on women in the flare-up. She immediately proceeded to Churachandpur and held a meeting with a delegation of the Kuki Women’s Organisation for Human Rights (KWOHR) and the women’s wing of the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF) at the 27 Assam Rifles base at Tuibong in Churachandpur district.

In the one-hour meeting the NCW team had with the 20-member women’s delegation, Sharma “expressed concern” over the alleged cases of atrocities on women, including the viral video in which two Kuki-Zo women were seen paraded naked and groped by a mob in Thoubal on May 4, one of the participants said.

KWOHR president Ngaineikim told The Telegraph: “...The role of the Meira Paibis was discussed. The NCW chief said she would try to arrange a meeting between the Kuki women and the Meira Paibis at a neutral venue, not in Imphal or Churachandpur, so that we can stand together for the cause of women.”

However, Ngaineikim rejected the proposal outright. The other women were also not agreeable to any such meeting.

“We cannot sit together with the Meira Paibis whom we are blaming for aiding the unrest. We are still grieving, mourning. The Meira Paibis are talking about peace only in front of the media,” Ngaineikim said.

She pointed to how three of her cousins were killed on May 4 by a mob in Imphal with reports from the ground saying Meira Paibis had “handed over the boys” to the mob who beat them to death.

“I told her I saved two Meitei men from a mob in Churachandpur but in Imphal the Meira Paibis handed over Kuki-Zo people to mobs. We can’t sit together. We told her a political solution, which is a separate state, was the only way out. The NCW chief said this was not her subject. Justice will not be delivered to the assaulted Kuki-Zo women unless and until we get a separate administration,” Ngaineikim said.

Mary Jones Vung, convener of the ITLF women’s wing, shared similar sentiments.

“What is the use of sitting together (with the Meira Paibis) after all the atrocities they have committed on Kuki-Zo women? We will be talking today and the next day they will start killing again. The only solution is a separate administration,” Mary Jones, a lawyer, said.

Mary Jones said the “shocking crimes” against women in Manipur served as a reminder of the sexual violence against women that continued to plague the country, and that women’s bodies were “still being used as a tool of subjugation in conflicts”.

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