The Kukis, today, are observing the ‘Black Day‘ in remembrance of the victims killed during the ethnic clash starting from 1992 to 1997. The Kukis have been terming the ethnic clash as ‘Genocide‘. However, as Dr. Tuisem rightly points it out, terming the conflict as Genocide, where one community deliberately attempts to wipe out the other – is not the case with the Naga-Kuki conflict as both the Nagas and the Kukis suffered major casualties.
As per the UNC report, from 1992 till 1997, 207 Nagas were killed, 197 injured and 2582 Naga houses were burnt down in the Kuki-Naga conflict. Hence the Kukis terming it as Genocide, Holocaust or ethnic cleansing is wrong in many ways.
There are many sad stories of the ethnic clash between the Kukis and the Nagas. Stories of loved ones being killed, houses being burnt down, people fleeing the villages and so on. Many such stories are unrecorded and undocumented.
We came across this story of how a Naga guy escaped death from the hands of the Kukis in 1997 and how he chose to forgive to make way for peace.
This is his story.
I AM A SURVIVAL
It will be the 22nd Anniversary of my friends’ murder at Hengpung Kuki if there is such observance.
My friend Paul, Lovejoy and Xavier all from Hungpung Village were forcibly pulled down from the bus by the villagers of Hengpung Kuki. The villagers then handed my friends to Kuki Underground and their death body was found in the jungle after few days. This horrific incident happened on 12 February 1997.
We were travelling together in a bus belonging to Manipur Golden Travels- an inter-state bus service from Imphal to Shillong. We were all studying in Shillong.
I have gone home to attend a student’s union conference in Ukhrul and was rushing back to Shillong as my exam was nearing.
It was a miracle that I and so many of my friends SURVIVED. 18 of us were travelling together on the same bus. The people from Hengpung attempted thrice to pull me down from the bus. I lied to them I was not a NAGA and I was visiting my father who was posted at Shillong.
The bus we were travelling were blocked by two trucks in the middle of the highway. Women with daos (big knife) and men with utup (club) came inside the bus and started pulling down whoever they thought were NAGAS. In the end they pulled down five of my friends. I believe it has to be DIVINE POWER that two of my friends were released after they were thrashed black and blue. Their clothes were torn up and the money they were carrying in their person were taken by the mob. Three of my friends never came back alive.
Do I feel lucky that I survived ? Definitely.
Was I traumatised ? I still am. And it becomes worst when I see this kind of observance such as “Kuki Black Day”. Will it be too much to admit that both side suffers and lost many precious lifes ? Will all the Kukis be able to take a steadfast stand that they were the only one suffered ?
We all made mistakes. Manipur is a history of mistakes. Giving away of Kabaw valley is a mistake. Allowing the refugee to settle is also a mistake because now they are claiming the land where they settled belongs to them. The Naga -Kuki conflict should not have happen. But all this are in the past. I wish we can move forward without letting our hatred, anger and bitterness crush the will to forgive each other because I believe that most of us still will for FORGIVENESS.
For me, the erection of such monoliths is only sowing the seeds of hatred, anger and bitterness. How can we hope for PEACE if this is our attitude. I cannot let what I went through be the reason for me to live within a box of jingoism. I cannot let it be the reason to start another conflict.
“There is no peace without forgiveness.” Marianne Williamson