09, Apr 2019 | SabrangIndia Staff
In an act of impudence and an outright insult to the democratic process in the country, the Kuki National Army (KNA), a Manipur based terrorist group has reportedly threatened villagers with dire consequences if they fail to ensure that 90 percent of their votes go the BJP. Thangboi Haokip, Commander of the KNA, allegedly threatened a gathering of village chiefs in D Muonnaphai, Moreh. The threat was allegedly issued to ensure the victory of HS Benjamin Mate, who is the Vice President of Manipur BJP and is the party’s candidate from outer Manipur.
Interestingly, the BJP appears to have nominated Mate after requests from another insurgent group named Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA). Scanned pictures of a letter by the armed insurgent outfit to BJP president Amit Shah requesting him to field HS Benjamin Mate as the BJP candidate from the region are making the rounds on social media.
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The KNA commander has also threatened women voters, saying that although there may not be enough women within the group, they would rely on a special force of nearly 200 female police personnel who will be deployed on election day. This suggests that the group feels confident of support from the administration in achieving its objectives. “Whether men or women, nobody will be spared if the diktat is not followed,” he has said. He has also said that he may even open fire on the day of polling, and that he will need “free movement”. The Moreh area comprises 21 polling stations, and KNA commandos are likely to check the poll percentage.
The KNA was founded in 1988 with the main objectives of bringing “all the Kuki inhabited areas separated by the ‘artificial boundary’ created in 1935 (specifically in the Kabaw valley of Myanmar) in Manipur under one unit called ‘Zalengam’. The first batch of cadres, under the command of Thangkholun Haokip, was trained by the Kachin Independent Army in Myanmar. The KNA has an estimated strength of 600 cadres armed with an array of weapons like AK-Series, G-series, M-series and 60mm mortar. Reportedly, the KNA has, in the past, tried to stoke communal tensions against the Meitei people in Moreh. The region has been marred by conflicts between the Kuki and Naga people. On September 22, 2005, then Union Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced that at least eight militant outfits (including the KNA) in Manipur had declared informal ceasefires with the Centre. However, it appears that the KNA has continued with its violent and divisive politics in cahoots with the security forces.
Several quarters have raised questions regarding this dubious approach of the ruling party.
This alleged tacit support to a known terror group is in stark contrast to the claims made in the BJP manifesto released today about its ‘Zero Tolerance Approach to Terrorism’.
Featured Image credit: mediaonetv.in
This piece was previously published on SabrangIndia.