If ‘Justice delayed is Justice denied’, then the Kukis have been denied Justice –their rights to live with dignity and integrity. In fact, for almost three decades now the Kukis have been demanding Justice for the victims of the ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ or the “Kuki Genocide” carried out by the NSCN IM against the Kukis. Will the victims be granted Justice?
Kuki Black Day
Every year on 13th September, the Kukis observe the Kuki Black Day in dearly remembrance and in mourning for their families and relatives who were mercilessly slaughtered during the Ethnic Cleansing or the Kuki Genocide of 1992 to 1997. Thousands, including women and children, were victims of mass slaughtering on that fateful day. Recounted stories of survivors narrate stories of terror and anguish that are mentally and emotionally torturing and devastating.
On 13th September 1993, more than a hundred villagers were killed by the armed cadres of NSCN IM in a single day that came to be known as the “Joupi Massacre”. These helpless villagers were served a quit notice to leave their villages and were also warned of dire consequences. However, the villagers were betrayed and were gruesomely murdered even after they had left their villages and homes.
The Kukis under the leadership of the Kuki Inpi, an apex body of the Kukis, and various other civil organisations and their branches, have been observing Kuki Black Day on 13th September every year. The Kuki Black Day is generally marked with peaceful procession and a prayer session which will be followed by candle lighting and people paying homage to the departed souls who were victims of the Kuki Genocide.
Why Ethnic Cleansing?
The Ethnic Cleansing or the Kuki Genocide was a programme of the NSCN IM under the banner of Nagaland for Christ and their claim of Greater Nagalim. The militants claimed that the Kukis were living in a Naga territory while the Kukis took it as an outright insult to their dignity and integrity as they were living in their own ancestral lands, defending it from Kings and conquerors of which the English are notable with whom they had valiantly fought the Anglo-Kuki War (1917-199).
The ethnic cleansing by the Naga separatists, as termed by BBC, was aimed not only to inflict terror and agony to the people, but it was also nefariously aimed at encroaching land and establishing power to rule at will. It was an extremely atrocious act to strip people of their rights by means of power and torture. Indeed, the Ethnic Cleansing has cost the lives of thousands of Kukis let alone the thousands and thousands of Kukis who were forcefully displaced from their ancestral homes.
Why has Justice been denied?
13th September this year marks the 26th year of commemorating Kuki Black Day. For twenty six years a number of memorandums have been submitted to the government to deliver Justice to the victims of the Kuki genocide. Several efforts have also been made by various civil bodies of the Kukis in seeking Justice.
The results have rather been extremely unfortunate since the government does not seem to take the least desirable effort to deliver Justice to the Kukis as a whole and to the victims in particular. The government has been largely unresponsive. On the contrary, the government has been long engaged with the perpetrators in talks to sign a peace deal. While the government’s effort to bring peace is applaudable in the militancy and violence gripped states as ours, one questions why Justice has been denied to the victims of the Kuki genocide.
It is indeed intriguing why the government and the people remain silent when hundreds of people have been mercilessly killed, a hundred villages torched, and thousands of people forcefully displaced. Moreover, what is more shocking is the unimaginable and indescribable manner and circumstances of the genocide.
A call for Justice
The genocide calls for justice. The indescribability calls for an action from the government to deliver Justice to the victims. The unprecedented loss of life and terror inflicted upon the lives and minds of the people seeks for restoration. The pain and sufferings, the agony of the people, and the inhumane actions and immorality calls for Justice.
It is indeed extremely imperative for the government to rightly deliver Justice at the earliest. The government must realise that any challenge against its institution and the country as a whole cannot be left unattended but must be effectively addressed for a greater good towards a common goal as a nation. It must stand as a guardian to constitutional morality and stand out to serve justice in the right manner and in its essence of humanity and equality for all. The issue therefore calls the government to constructively engage and address this painfully significant issue of Justice.
From Humanity to Humans
As the Kukis observe the Kuki Black Day, let us all be reminded that it is not just a dark day for the Kukis, but also for Justice and Humanity, and for the state and the country. It is indeed a black day for us all as responsible persons and citizens in our quest towards societal harmony and common good for all. With it, it is an earnest appeal that it is no longer just the Kukis to cry for Justice but for us all, as the same human kind, to constantly fight against anything that hinders growth for a better world.
Today we mourn for the victims of the Kuki genocide, and we also pray that such inhumane thoughts and action do not once again grip our hearts. And as for JUSTICE for the victims of the Kuki Genocide, Twenty Six years have gone by and the government must no longer wait.
Gen. Secy. International Human Rights Association, Manipur.