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KNO calls for ‘peace, harmony and equitable development’


Of late, serious diatribe against Kuki tribe, with a view to sow seeds of discord with the Meitei community has been rife in social media, KNO said.

TFM Desk

Kuki National Organisation (KNO) has urged the people of Manipur to desist from temptation to “spread rumours or malign any community with false allegations” and instead channel every grain of energy to promote “peace, harmony and equitable development” in the state.

A statement issued by KNO president PS Haokip on Friday contended that, of late, serious diatribe against Kuki, with a view to sow seeds of discord with the Meitei community has been rife in social media. The lead taken in this respect is by social organisations, the Haomee and the Mahousa Apunba Lup, and a few, but relatively less provocative collectives of individuals active on Facebook. 

“This distasteful development serves no other purpose than reflecting prejudice and a degree of historical amnesia,” it added. 

KNO also put forward two objectives with an aim to “maintain healthy decorum in the state of multicultural Manipur, predominantly inhabited by Meitei, Kuki and Naga”. They are — dispel false notions that may mislead the public to engage in activities with undesirable outcomes, and maintain cordial relations between Meitei and Kuki, as in days of yore.

The KNO statement also claimed “Historical folklore tells of two brothers, Kuki and Meitei. From their mountain dwelling they went in search of other habitable settlements in the valley. The menace of mosquitoes, causing malarial fever and even death, made the valley less appealing to Kuki. Less tolerant to the unpleasant condition, Kuki, who, ‘prior to the inception of Pakhangba era, … were known as Chingburoi, (owner of the hills)’,[l] opted to return to their original habitat, the highlands. Meitei, the younger brother, chose to adapt to life in with the other Kuki Groups. (Land and People of Indian States and Union Territories, SC Bhatt, Gopal Bhargava, 2001). Dr Grierson was the first colonial researcher to present the relationship between Meiteilon and Kuki Chin Languages.”

Kuki Status in Manipur based on linguistics:

“Meiteilon and Kuki-Chin dialects clearly speak of the Historical and Social presence of Kukis in the Hill Country/Hills of Manipur since time immemorial. Dr W Ibohal in his work clearly presented that Modern Meiteilon which was in use since 1600 AD was based on Medieval Meiteilon and Kuki-Chin Languages. In the views of a Linguist, Linguistic dominance can never occur in a short period of time. If Meiteilon could be a product of Medieval Meitei and Kuki-Chin, it would mean that the Kukis were very much present in Manipur much before 1600 AD. Taking Meiteis and Kukis into consideration, it would at least take 200-300 years for one to dominate the other or vice versa, not politically or socially but linguistically. Relationship, Social and Political Influence, Time Period, etcetera is all an essential feature for a particular Linguistic group to fully adopt the other one. Therefore, we can clearly conclude Kukis were present in Manipur much before 1600 AD,  contrary to some self-styled Naga historians representing Kukis in Manipur as arriving by 1850.”

‘Kukis’, as recorded in the Royal Chronicles of Meitei and Tripura Kings:

“The word ‘Kuki’ is prominently featured in both of the Chronicles of Meitei and Tripura Kings. In the Royal Chronicles of Tripura, Shiva has been quoted as falling in love with a Kuki Women in around 32 AD. In the same Chronicles, we find mention of Tripura Prince marrying a Kuki Princess in 1415 AD. (Basumatry 1920). The Kukis were the single largest tribes inhabiting the Tripura Hills before the rise of the Debbarmas (Basumatry, 1920). King Dhanya Manikya who ruled Tripura between 1490 – 1520 AD brought home a Gong presented by Kuki Chiefs on one of his friendly visits (Roy, 1965).

In the Cheitharol Kumbaba, we find that a Kuki by the name Taothingmang became the King of Manipur in 186 Skabda (264 AD). Again in 33 CE, two Kukis by the name Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba were allies to the Nongba Lairen Pakhangba. King Irengba who reigned Manipur between 1107-1127 AD had contacts with Kuki villages North of Imphal Valley. (Asim Roy, 1997). As they parted, Kuki asked his brother that from time to time he should light a fire (mei = fire, tih = to start a fire) to raise smoke, to signal all was well. Over the years, from mei tih the term ‘Meitei’ evolved, and their new settlement became Kangleipak.”

Several other facts highlight the Meitei and Kuki relations. 

“The Meitei ritual of Sagei Khunthoklon illustrates that two-thirds of all Meitei were assimilated Kukis. If all the Bengali and Hindi vocabularies are removed from the Meitei language, the remainder is part of a Kuki dialect. The Linguistic Survey of India, Vol Ill, Pt Ill, which classifies Meitei as a Kuki dialect/language, substantiate this. Folklore of different Kuki tribes, Milhem and Chothe prove Kukis are aborigines of Manipur.

The Pooyas, written in Meitei script states, in pre-history Moirang, Chothe Thangvai Pakhangba a Kuki king, known as Ivang Purile Lai Thingri Nachousa ruled for one hundred and twenty years (BC 90 to AD 30). During the ‘Ava war’ in 1810, the Meitei king Chourajit, not equipped to fight his enemy, sought the help of Kuki and famously declared, Chingna koina pansaba, Haona koina panngakpa, Manipur sana leimayol (The hills surround Manipur, the Golden Land; the people of the hills, protect the valley).

In AD 1820, Kukis pitched in to assist King Herachandra prevail against the Ava (Burmease) incursions. The Kukis sent five hundred warriors as there were only three hundred Meiteis to fight.

In the reign of King Chandrakirti (1851-1852), Kamhau, the Sukte Chin King declared war on the Meitei Kingdom. King Chandrakirti, defeated, was taken prisoner to the Chin land. The Kukis sent 1,200 warriors and fought against the Kamhaus, rescued Chandrakirti and restored him to the throne. Following the event, king Chandrakirti held a grand occasion to honour the Kukis.

More recently, in 1949 two hundred and fifty Kukis, mostly Haokip chiefs,  with muzzle loaders defended king Bodachandra, who was against merger of Manipur to the Indian Union (Annexation of Manipur 1949, 1995, p.182, Published by the People’s Democratic Movement, Manipur). As a gesture of appreciation, king Bodachandra honoured the Haokips to settle at Haokip Veng, near Sanjenthong in the heart of Imphal.

Concerning tribes with different linguistic roots unable to communicate were grouped under Naga (Dr Brown, Hill Country and Tribes of Manipur, 1820). Meiteis were categorised under Kuki owing to the Linguistic affinity L Joychandra (Lost Kingdoms 1995: 1), noted that Manipuri King Naofanga who reigned between AD 624 and AD 714 had Friendship Treaties with Kuki Chiefs East of Imphal.

Col Johnstone’s account that Kukis migrated into Manipur only around 1850 refers to the year when he first came in contact with the Kukis. Had Col Johnston, Higgins or Mc Cullock arrived in Manipur in 1600, they would have reported the Kukis as spotted in 1600 AD. Captain Butler who in 1873 was Deputy Commissioner of Naga Hills in his Report to the Revenue Proceedings 1873, Nos, 120 to 132, mentioned Kacha Nagas as first spotted in 1839 as tribes living in the Jungly Hills due south of the Angami Country (Mc Kenzie, NE frontier of India). Col Johnstone in his report on ‘Aggressions of Chassad Kookies’ mentioned ‘the Tankhools are Manipur subjects and occupy the Hill country East of the Valley. They were first mentioned in Dr Brown’s account of the Hill country and tribes under the rule of Manipur in 1867.'”

Refugee status?

“In 1967 during the Khadawmi operation in Burma, between Christmas and the New year, a small population of Kukis were forced to flee to Manipur. The hapless people, treated as refuges, were given humanitarian aid by the Indian Government. Government Notification (D.O. No. B-R/67/DC/1314-6, dated June 6 1968) to this effect was issued by District Commissioner Manipur. Suisa Tangkhul was the Member of Parliament from Outer Manipur at the time. The unfortunate event has been misrepresented to suggest all Kukis are refugees!”

Mount Koubru

“Concerning the apparent debacle over Mount Koubru, from time immemorial, people of the valley have been cordially welcome and even assisted where possible on their pilgrimage. Under no circumstance has this status altered, and neither should it ever. The bottom line is Kuki and Meitei will remain neighbours as ever, forever. Nothing can change this God given relation. Neither should any party venture to alter the age-old status.”

KNO also contended that Kukis have always been the vanguard for Manipur’s territorial integrity. Historical incidents have been cited above to elaborate on this noble endeavour. In the current tripartite engagement with Government of India and Government of Manipur, too, the same is self-evident in the fact that Kukis seek political settlement not only within the Constitutional framework of India, but also within the state of Manipur. 

“Transparency of this nature reflects political settlement meant for development would benefit both the hill and valley people,” KNO claimed. 

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