How Kuki Drug Lords Are Holding Peace To Ransom In Manipur

According to intelligence agencies, the Kuki militants are merely puppets in the hands of drug lords from their community, holding peace in Manipur to ransom.

Intermittent violence continues to convulse strife-torn Manipur with Kuki militants engaging with security forces and attacking Meiteis and their properties. 

But, say intelligence agencies, the Kuki militants are just puppets in the hands of drug lords from that community. It is the drug lords who are now orchestrating the violence and want to keep the pot boiling. 

What’s more alarming is that some of these drug lords are illegal migrants from Myanmar and have close links with the rebel Chin National Army (CNA) of Myanmar and the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA) that operates in both Myanmar and Manipur. 

Kuki drug lords, say security and intelligence agencies, are not only funding militants belonging to the Kuki National Army (KNA) and ZRA, but also helping these terror outfits procure Chinese-made arms from Myanmar. 

The Kuki drug lords are angry with the BJP-led coalition government in Manipur for intensifying a crackdown on poppy cultivation since January this year. 

And that is why they do not want a return to normalcy. Peace, they fear, will lead to resumption of the war against poppy cultivation in the state. And that is very bad business for the drug lords. 

It must be mentioned here that while all the drug lords in Manipur are Kukis, Kukis also form the majority of poppy cultivators, drug processors (extracting opium from poppy plants) and traffickers in Manipur. 

The Kuki drug lords feel that the longer that Manipur remains disturbed, the better it is for them since they can conduct their illicit drug business unhindered. 

“They (the Kuki drug lords) also want to deepen the ethnic divide between Meiteis and Kukis and make it permanent. That, they hope, will create a strong ground for a separate state for Kukis. And once that goal (of a separate Kuki state) is achieved, they will flourish. That’s their sinister game plan,” a DIG-ranked police officer told Swarajya.

It is with this objective in mind that the Kuki drug lords are sponsoring the militants from their community and directing them to carry out attacks on Meiteis and properties belonging to Meiteis. 

Since most Meiteis have migrated away from Kuki majority areas and areas with a mixed population, the Kuki militants cannot target humans. The militants are, thus, having to contend themselves with destroying properties belonging to the Meiteis. 

A major objective here is to provoke a backlash from Meitei groups like the Arambai Tenggol and Meitei Leepun. 

“Retaliatory attacks on Kukis and properties belonging to Kukis by Meitei groups will accentuate the ethnic divide and boost the claims being made by Kuki politicians, intellectuals and civil society organisations (CSOs) that Kukis cannot live together with Meiteis and, thus, need a separate state,” the senior IPS officer who does not hail from Manipur told Swarajya.  

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