The Kuki National Army (KNA), a Manipur-based terrorist outfit, has reportedly asked villagers to vote for the BJP or “face the music” in the Lok Sabha elections which will be held in seven-phases in the country starting April 11 next.
This diktat of the terrorist group is an outright slap on the face of democracy. The diktat also makes the BJP manifesto declaring ‘Zero Tolerance Approach to Terrorism’ ring hollow.
Reports stated that KNA has asked villagers to ensure that 90 per cent of their votes go to the saffron party or “face dire consequences”. A group of village chiefs was allegedly threatened by Thangboi Haokip, commander of the KNA, in D Muonnaphai, Moreh.
The militant group has reportedly “taken up the cudgels” for HS Benjamin Mate, vice-president of Manipur BJP who is the party’s candidate from outer Manipur.
Mate reportedly enjoys the support of another insurgent group – Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA). Interestingly, BJP appears to have nominated Mate after requests from ZRA.
Scanned pictures of a letter by the armed insurgent outfit to BJP chief Amit Shah requesting him to field HS Benjamin Mate as the BJP candidate from the region is going viral on social media.
The KNA’s commander has reportedly threatened women voters too saying that though the outfit does not boast of enough female cadres, they would rely on a special force of nearly 200 female police personnel who will be deployed on election day.
This best manifests the fact that KNA enjoys the “support” of the district administration. “Whether men or women, nobody will be spared if the diktat is not followed,” he warned.
Under the very nose of the district and police administrations, the KNA chief has 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 the 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 took training under the Kachin Independent Army in Myanmar. The batch was led by Thangkholun Haokip.
The KNA has an estimated strength of 600 cadres and boasts of sophisticated weapons like AK-series, G-series, M-series and 60 mm mortar. The KNA has, in the past, tried to “foment communal tensions” against the Meitei people in Moreh.
The region has been marred with conflicts between 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 have declared informal ceasefire with the Centre.
However, their actions speak otherwise and they are “merrily carrying on with their violent and divisive politics” with the security forces “playing footsie” to them. Several quarters have raised questions on this dubious approach of the ruling party in Manipur.