The last Kuki families who were living in Imphal have alleged that they were forcibly evicted from their homes by security forces on Tuesday.
Residents of the New Lambulane area said that the armed personnel claimed that they were acting under the direction of the Home Department.
“Twenty-four of us were not even given time were not given time to pack our belongings and we were literally herded into the waiting Casper bulletproof vehicle,” the Kukis said in a press note. “Many of us were woken up from our sleep and pulled by our arms into the waiting vehicle with only the clothes we were wearing.”
Around 300 Kuki families living in the New Lambulane area had left their homes after ethnic violence began in the state on May 3. However, some five families comprising of 24 members had stayed back. The locality was since been guarded by Central security forces around the clock, according to The Hindu.
On August 27, an empty house belonging to a Kuki family in the area was set on fire by miscreants. A few neigbouring Meitei homes were burnt too, leading to a strong protest by locals.
“We faced objections from all sides,” S Prim Vaiphei, a resident of New Lambulane, told The Hindu. “The Meitei did not like our presence, the Kukis also wanted us to leave. The security forces also made requests time and again asking us to move to another location.”
The 78-year-old said that the families had been taken to an Assam Rifles camp in Motbung in Senapati district, some 25 kilometres away from Imphal.
“This was my only home,” Vaiphei said. “My ancestral home was burnt down in the current wave of violence.”
The residents expressed their displeasure at the “high-handed abduction like forcible evacuation” against their will.
“We regret that a country like India is unwilling to ensure the life and security of its citizens at the place of their residence, succumbing to the intimidation of chaotic forces trying to destroy the society and the state,” they said in their statement.
An unidentified defence official told The Hindu that the families had been provided safe passage from New Lambulane to Motbung on a special request by the civil administration.
The official said the tribal people had stayed in the locality for a long time and had become vulnerable targets.
Over 195 people have been killed in the ongoing ethnic conflict and nearly 60,000 persons have been forced to flee their homes since the violence broke out in Manipur. The state has reported cases of rape and murder, and mobs have looted police armoury and set several homes on fire despite the heavy presence of central security forces.
“Total separation of Meiteis and Kukis”
The Kuki Inpi Manipur, the apex body of Kuki organisations, said that the eviction of the residents from the New Lambulane has marked the total separation of Kukis and Meiteis in Manipur.
The body said that it was imperative for the Centre to constitutionally recognise this “separation” without any delay.
“The only viable solution to the ongoing state-sponsored ethnic cleansing against the Kuki people lies in the total separation of the two communities – Meiteis and Kukis, the process of which has been completed in the aftermath of the evacuation of the remaining Kuki volunteers in Imphal last night.”