ANSAM shares thoughts on 'ancestral land'
Source: The Sangai Express / Newmai News Network

Senapati, October 15 2019: Referring to the "Commemoration of Anglo-Kuki War 1917-19", the All Naga Students' Association, Manipur (ANSAM) has said that it "does not promote animosity because past histories have taught enough lessons that there cannot be peace if one intends to claim what does not belong to one" .

ANSAM also said that it is not against the Centenary Celebration but "distortion of history with a malafide intention to create communal tension under the concocted nomenclature 'the Ango-Kuki War 1917-1919' and the proposed inscription 'in defense of our ancestral land and freedom' with an intent to grab the ancestral land of the aboriginal communities living in the State of Manipur is anti thesis to the peaceful co-existence" .

The Naga student body also said that land is sacrosanct for the indigenous people because the identity and history lies in it.

"Therefore, it is the collective responsibility of the indigenous people to protect our land, history from aggression and distortion and ensure peaceful co-existence".

ANSAM claimed that the "Kuki rebellion" of 1917-19 was a rebellion caused as a result of the recruitment against France Labour Corps in 1917.The colonial policy of Kuki settlements in Naga areas between the year 1830- 1840 AD during the reign of Maharaja Nara Singh is evident from the standing fact that the name Kukis were first heard in Manipur (Johnstone J., My experience in Manipur and Naga Hills,P.25).The Naga student body also said that it is a matter of grave concern that the "Kuki Nationalists and few other hate campaigners" of the Nagas are deeply immersed and jubilant to celebrate the centenary of the "Kuki rebellion" .

The Anglo Kuki war 1917-1919 as claimed by the Kukis is a "wild dream" for the simple reason that it was never a war, claimed the ANSAM, adding, "A war is generally fought between two independent countries.

It is but a shame on the part of some historians to have recently coined the rebellion as 'Anglo Kuki War' which is a misnomer" .

"The so called Anglo Kuki War is bogus and non-existent in the history of Manipur," it added.

According to the Naga student body, there was never a war between the colonial power and the Kukis but a "horrid massacre" of indigenous communities especially the Nagas living in the hill districts of Manipur.

The Kukis raided Naga villages, looted Naga granaries to feed themselves, abducted Nagas for ransom, burnt villages and mercilessly killed thousands of Nagas during the course of the rebellion between 1917-1919 by using 600 muzzle loading guns to protect the interest of the British against the Burmese, alleged the Naga student body.

The nature of the rebellion against the hegemony of established colonial power and repercussion after the rebellion did not substantiate anything to call it war against colonial yoke, it added.

It was rather more of an ethnic feud targeted against the indigenous inhabitants.

There are instances of Makui Atangpa villagers' in Tamenglong district who were massacred mercilessly, ANSAM added.

"So, if the concocted Anglo-Kuki War 1917-1919 should be allowed to go down in the pages of history as a fight in defence of the ancestral domains and freedom of the Kukis, it will be a disgrace and dishonour to the aboriginal communities who had surpassed more than 2000 years or more of civilization dating back from 33 AD and there was no Anglo-Kuki War in the history of Manipur," ANSAM claimed.

According to ANSAM, Colonel Mc Culloch, the then political Agent in Manipur who was entrusted by the reigning King Nara Singh to settle the problems of the "Kuki immigrants" in Manipur had a wrong notion that Manipur will be useful when the French and Portuguese influence in Burma was strong against the British interest in Burma and for Manipur also.

RK Jhalajit Singh Padmashri, a historian of Manipur also subscribed to the historical statement of Maj General Sir James Johnstone's Book "Manipur and Naga Hills" page-45 where he stated, " the new immigrants began to cause anxiety about the year 1845 and soon poured into the hill tract of Manipur in such number, as to drive away many older inhabitants".

However under the British protection, Mc Culloch settled them down allotting to them lands in different places with the permission and blessings of the Maharaja, the ANSAM further stated.

"As a matter of fact, the rebellion that occurred at sporadic places in Naga ancestral domains and the plain areas in the valley of Manipur was nothing but a ploy for settlement of the Kukis, originally nomadic who wandered from one place to another in search of food and shelter," the Naga student body also stated.

The ANSAM further said that the status of the Kukis as "refugees" is a proven fact as the nomenclature 'Kukis' as nomadic tribe was first heard between 1830 and 1840.As per the historical account, the Kuki status was later officially recognised by the standing order of the president, Manipur state Durbar issued by TA Sharp that the "Kukis in Naga areas in Manipur are aliens and refugees".

Again the standing order no.Dated 23-07-1941 declares that the "Kukis shall obtain prior permission from the chief of Naga village for settlement and pay house tax to the Naga chief", the ANSAM also said "Ever since they migrated from Burma to the present ancestral domains of Manipur they raided many Naga villages viz; Chingjaroi (Swemi) in the month of December 1892 killing more than 600 villagers ruthlessly," it said, adding, "As clearly stated in the history of Manipur the Kukis were made irregular troops and others were made porters".

It then said that the "lop-sided and concocted" history framed by the "Kuki Nationalists" for a pipe-dream homeland without an iota of truth is ridiculous for the simple reason that they are never the owner of land in any part of Manipur either by natural law of land or by conquest.

"They (the Kukis) came to Manipur as late as 1830s.There are several instances supported by secondary documents that the Kukis are foreigners.

The refugee status is clearly stated in the letter of the deputy commissioner vide no.B-R/67/DC/874-5 dated 6th April 1968," the Naga student body added.

There are several documents which say that Tangkhul Naga villages are paid Loushan by the Kukis, settling in the Nagas domains, said ANSAM and added "For instance, misc case no.45/hill of 1931-32 (Leishan village and Manvom Kuki village of Mollen Mateingam Tangkhul of Ngaprum as Yangkhullen Kuki vide Misc.

Case No.Of N.E of 1926-27,SDO East civil case no.309 of 1935-36 between Chingcha village and Kuki of Gammon village, Manipur State Durbar Misc.Case No.42 0f 1933-34 between Kuki chief of Grihang and Tangkhul of Grihang, civil case no.276 of 1933-34 between Khayang Tangkhul and Khayang Kuki etc," pointed out the ANSAM, while further pointing out that the status of the "Kukis Refugees" is further authenticated in a "missive dispatched by SDO Ukhrul to the DC Manipur Imphal vide office Memo No.Con./UKL/68 dated September 27th 1968 and the standing order of PMSD No.2 of 23rd July 1941 declared that "the Kukis shall obtain prior permission from the chief of Naga village for settlement and pay house Tax to Naga chief" .

The Government agreed to the Kuki Refugee Fund under the Govt Memo P3/9/66 of Finance Ministry of Home affairs GOI and Payment made to the Kukis by the state Govt of Manipur vide Memo No.01/R/RFL 1st payment: 22/4/1957, 2nd Payment: 7/7/1959, 3rd payment: 28/2/1966 etc., the Naga student body added.

According to the ANSAM, there was no Kuki village in Chandel but the Kukis from Chassad, Ukhrul entered Chandel district in the year 1845 and settled at Khangbarol on payment of Lousal (field tax) to the Naga land owners as recorded in the standing orders passed by the President of Manipur State Durbar and therefore, the question of ancestral land of the Kukis in Chandel district doesn't arise.

"For instance, Maolhang village in Machi block was given to the Kukis by the Khoibu Khunjao village under certain conditions.

Kuki villages viz., Chelip, Phalbung, Samukon, Sita and Simang villages had been given by the ancestral land owners of Khudei Khullen (Maring) and Narum (Maring) villages" .

The ANSAM added that many Kuki villages like Saivom, Tengnoupal, Khudeng Thabi, Lokchao and Kuki hamlets were given permission to settle in Naga ancestral domains by the Maring, Aimol and Chothe villages.

"In the case of some Kuki villages under Tongou (Ringui) village viz.,Yailen, Mongkot Chepu and Shongphel, an agreement was signed between the headman of Tongou (Ringui) and Kuki villages in 1950 wherein Kuki villages accepted the suzerainty of Tongou( Ringui) over the land," the ANSAM claimed.

"In return for allowing the Kuki villagers to settle within the jurisdiction of Tongou, Kuki villagers agreed to offer domesticated animals preferably pig or cattle to Ringui village from time to time as tribute" .

According to the Naga student body, in 2001, a mutual understanding was reached in reaffirmation of suzerainty of Tongou village that the land inhabited by the Kukis within the ancestral domains of Tongou village should not be sold to any outsiders and that both the communities should continue to co-exist peacefully.

"Kuki village like Mollam, Zalengpung, Lamlai Chingphei and Sanghai are not an exception as these villages are within the jurisdiction of Tongou village," the Naga student body added.

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