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Kuki-Zo people mourn lives lost in Manipur strife

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‘Kuki-Zo Awakening Day’ observed in city

SHILLONG, May 5: In remembrance and mourning of the loss of hundreds of innocent lives in the Manipur strife which started on this day last year, the Kuki-Zo community in Shillong observed the ‘Kuki-Zo Awakening Day’, marking the one-year anniversary of the turmoil.
The event was organised by the Kuki Inpi Meghalaya and Kuki Student’s Organisation, Shillong at the Kuki Worship Service, Church complex at Law-U-Sib, Madanryting, Shillong.
Isiah 1:18 of the Holy Bible “Come let’s reason together for our future…..” was chosen as the theme of the event.
The programme was graced by the tribe leaders of the Kuki-Zo community viz., Kuki, Mizo, Hmar, Paite, Vaiphei, Gangte, Zou, Simte, Tidim-Chin, etc. and was attended by scores of Kuki-Zo people living in and around Shillong.
A moment of silence was observed to honour and pay respects to the Kuki-Zo victims who lost their lives in this conflict.
Pu S Touthang, president of the Kuki Inpi Meghalaya, while delivering the keynote address, reminded the gathering that during the last 12 months of conflict, the death toll among Kuki-Zo civilians has risen to 185, with over 200 villages and 7,000 homes destroyed completely.
Additionally, 360 or more places of worship, including churches and synagogues, were burned down, leading to the internal displacement of more than 40,000 people across 200 relief camps.
Nearly 100 schools belonging to the Kuki-Zo community were also destroyed or vandalized.
The president of the Kuki Inpi Meghalaya expressed that May 3, 2023, would be forever etched in memory as a significant moment of awakening for the Kuki-Zo community. He explained that the creation of Buffer Zone (boundary within state boundary) for the two warring groups, by the Home Minister of Manipur was not only unprecedented but an acknowledgement by the Centre that the Meitei and Kukis could not live together anymore.
Touthang explained the important of safeguarding the Buffer Zone (or Frontlines) created by the Home Ministe of the state. In order to do this, he called upon all Kuki-Zo people to unite to achieve the political goal of a separate administration from “Meitei -centric government but within the Constitutional framework.
He stressed the need for continual vigilance and steadfastness in protecting Pupa Gam (Ancestral land) and upholding the community’s values and principles. “Observing May 3 as ‘Awakening Day’ is fitting, symbolising the newfound socio-political awareness and determination of the Kuki-Zo people,” Touthang said in his address.
His views on unity of the Kuki-Zo was agreed and echoed by all the tribe leaders/ representatives during their speech.
The event concluded with a candlelight vigil led by the Kuki Students’ Organisation of Shillong.

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