A speech given by the leader of a Kuki-Zo tribes group based in Canada and originating from Manipur has sparked a significant controversy. The speech was delivered in early August at the same gurdwara in Surrey, Canada, where Chief and Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar was fatally shot by unidentified individuals in June.
Lien Gangte, who heads the Canada chapter of the North American Manipur Tribal Association (NAMTA), used his speech to strongly condemn what he referred to as “attacks on minorities in India” and called upon Canada for “all possible assistance.”
Initially, NAMTA had posted a video of the event on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (now known as X) on August 7. However, these videos were later removed due to escalating tensions between India and Canada, which followed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent statement alleging the involvement of “Indian government agents” in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Nijjar.
Mr. Gangte, representing the Kuki-Zo tribes to which he belongs, provided a comprehensive account of the ethnic violence between the hill-majority tribes and the valley-majority Meiteis.
He described the violence, stating, “On May 4, a mob attacked our house and attempted to murder my 80-year-old father. They looted our home and set it ablaze. My elder brother and his family fled with only the clothes on their backs. Manipur has been in turmoil since May 3, with over 120 of our people losing their lives, more than 7,000 homes looted and burnt, hundreds of churches destroyed, and 200 valley villages razed.”
Mr. Gangte alleged that the authorities had failed to take adequate measures to control the violence, and instead, the Manipur Police seemed to encourage the rioters. He characterized these events as ethnic cleansing and recounted a tragic incident in which a seven-year-old boy, his mother, and a relative were burned alive in an ambulance. He criticized the absence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi during these crises, emphasizing the necessity for Canada’s assistance and condemning attacks on minorities in India.
According to The Times of India, unnamed officials reported that India’s intelligence agencies have been closely monitoring NAMTA’s activities and examining the alleged connections between the Kuki-Zo group and Khalistani elements.
Following Mr. Gangte’s speech, a meeting was reportedly held by NAMTA members and supporters of Khalistani terrorist Nijjar, which has raised concerns among intelligence agencies, as reported by First Post, citing unnamed intelligence sources.
Sources within the Manipur government acknowledged their awareness of NAMTA’s activities in Canada and expressed confidence in the monitoring efforts of intelligence agencies. They underscored their commitment to restoring peace and normalcy in Manipur amid the ongoing crisis.
A Kuki-Zo communications professional, who has closely followed the Manipur crisis, asserted that the controversy surrounding the NAMTA video has been exaggerated, and critics are attempting to fabricate a conspiracy that does not exist. This professional emphasized that the video had been publicly available since early August, and issues only surfaced in the context of the Canada-India dispute related to Nijjar’s death.
The ethnic violence in Manipur, which began on May 3, has resulted in over 180 casualties and is attributed to tensions between the Kuki tribes and the Meiteis, primarily stemming from the Meiteis’ demand for Scheduled Tribes category status. Thousands have been displaced and are currently residing in relief camps and prefabricated houses.