Civil voluntary organisations’ role in resolving thadou-paite clashes (1997-1998) in manipur

Aheibam Koireng Singh and Gangam Malangmei

Human rights vigil group, students’ organization, ethnic based association, youth forums, other non-political and nongovernmental organizations and religious bodies like the Churches are, for the purpose of this paper, considered as Civil Voluntary Organisations (CVOs). Insurgency to the people in Manipur is a social fact and the people in the state had to live with it. There are about forty insurgent outfits in Manipur. Insurgencies in the hills of Manipur are organized on ethnic lines. Since these civil bodies were always in the forefront, they took the role of a mediator as and when there was a standoff between the insurgentsand the civil populace as well as within and among the different insurgent groups operating in the state of Manipur. The two warring groups racially belong to the same kindred tribe of Chin-Kuki-Mizo-Zomi (CHIKIMZ) group. Examining the ethno-genesis and the crisis of identity prevailing in this group gives interesting insights of their trouble relationships on the eve of the conflict. Fragmentation and continuing conflict among the CHIKIMZ also could be attributed to the colonial policy of abruptly drawing administrative boundaries or categorizing people, and also classifying and naming the people with whom they came into contact and eventually governed and its continued legacy in post independent India. Despite their socio-cultural and racial affinities, the tribes in the Kuki-Chin group were still not able to come under the fold of a unified common nomenclature.The Thadou-Paiteclashes in the year 1997-1998 has led to large-scale displacement and impoverishment has resulted to the loss of 352 lives, 136 cases of serious injuries and the burning down of 4670 houses. Though there were condemnation and appeals to end the fratricidal war right after its eruption, reconciliation effort began to promise some hope only after the Church bodies, civil society organizations from and across ethnic lines apart from group(s) involved in the clashes came together in a common platform to find ways and means of reconciling the clashes with active patronage from the government and its various departments and machineries. The said common platform functions under the name of ‘High Level Committee. It achieved its first successful breakthrough when two of the member organizations of this committee KukiInpi Churachandpur (KIC) and the Zomi Council (ZC) obviously the apex body of the Kuki including the Thadou and the Zomi are authorized by their respective armed outfits on their behalf in the event of peace talks. It subsequently culminated to the signing of peace accord on 01 October 1998 after which a surface calm has been won and endured till date.

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