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Manipur: Kuki youth body calls for poll boycott

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Manipur: Kuki youth body calls for poll boycott

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GUWAHATI

An apex youth body of the Kuki community, the Young Kuki, has called for the boycott of the two-phase election to the Outer Manipur Lok Sabha constituency.

The decision, the Young Kuki said in a statement on March 26, “reflects our collective response to the ongoing injustices and neglect faced by our tribe, underscoring our disillusionment with a system that has failed to ensure our protection, dignity, and rights” of the Kuki-Zo people in Manipur.

Seen as illegal entrants from Myanmar, the Kuki-Zo people have been at the centre of an ethnic conflict that broke out on May 3, 2023 killing about 220 people and displacing some 60,000 people. The victims have largely been Kuki-Zo and Meitei people.

Although the Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum, the voice of the Kuki-Zo people during the course of the conflict, asked members of the community to exercise their franchise, the Young Kuki said the “relentless campaign of violence” against them by the State machinery made it think otherwise.

The decision to abstain from participating in the electoral process is anchored in grievous concerns such as “continued violence and impunity” against the community, the “systematic destruction of our homes and places of worship resulting in the displacement of over 41,425 Kukis”, and the “refusal” of the Centre to address the looting of arms from police armouries by radical Meitei groups and “wielded against” the Kukis, and inadequate support for displaced Kukis.

The Young Kuki also flagged the unaddressed crimes against Kuki women, defamation of the community by State officials, the “neglected governance” in areas inhabited by the community, and the lack of dialogue.

“Our collective decision to boycott the forthcoming electoral process is not made in haste but as a measured response to the systemic injustices endured by our tribe. It is our assertion that continued participation in a governance system that fails to acknowledge, much less rectify, these injustices serves only to legitimise the ongoing oppression of our people,” the youth body said.

The decision to not participate in the Lok Sabha elections “as a non-violent expression of our dissent and demand for accountability” was in accordance with the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India, the Young Kuki said.

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