Kukis are not foreigners, illegal foreign immigrants are

Phanjoubam Chingkheinganba *

Logo of Chavang Kut, performed annually on November 1
Logo of Chavang Kut, performed annually on November 1

In today's post colonial 21st century, where formerly nations, through centuries of struggle against imperialism achieved their freedom from the yolk of European exploitation, hundreds of countries with their clearly established political boundaries have emerged and formed.

Post-independence, the word "foreigners" are basically applied to those people whose citizenship is not affiliated to the sovereign country he belongs to.

The sovereign country of India and her Constitution maintains and enforces the Foreigners' Act 1946, to check illegal immigration from neighbouring countries which are economically weaker than the country and for security reasons, from the presumption of a layman.

One of the latest instances, which received wide national media coverage, and which occurred in the Indian state of Manipur, neighbouring Myanmar, was the death of two Muslim individuals at Sajiwa Central Jail who claimed themselves to be nationals of Saudi Arabia and had been imprisoned for entering India under this Act.

From the country's constitutional aspect, any group of people including the ethnic Meetei, Kukis, Burmese Chins, Burmese Nagas or any other ethnic groups which have not acquired Indian citizenship, other than India, is a foreigner though in some other highly developed countries dual citizenship are allowed.

The rationality behind granting of citizenship is not directed against any ethnic groups on the ground of biasness and is applicable to each and every sovereign countries of the world.

Henceforth, from universally accepted laws, citizenship is the proper platform which determines whether an individual is an illegal immigrant or a foreigner.

A historic event forgotten

Aside from the two Women's War (Nupi Lal) of Manipur, one of the most historically important events occurred in the native state of Manipur in 1917, which the British masters, even acknowledged as the most serious disturbances, even more than the extent of the short-lived movement launched by the legendary figure Haipou Jadonang and his follower Indian freedom fighter Rani Gaidinliu as per Robert Reid "History of Frontier Areas bordering Assam."

Known in modern times as Anglo-Kuki war of independence, this historic incident was referred to as Khongjai Lan (Lal) by ethnic Meeteis and Thadou Gal by the Khongjais which ethnic Meeteis earlier called the Thadou similarly as the Kukis previously called the ethnic Meeteis as "Meilheis".

The historic "Kuki Rebellion" was mostly led by the Thadou chiefs, "related kindred clans" and hence the ethnic Meeteis called it Khongjai Lal as the latter have been living with the Thadous (Kukis or Khongjais) ever since the great Kuki immigration/ invasion in the forties and beyond during the 19th century.

The guerrilla style of warfare, which rose from the issue of raising a second Manipur Labour Corps to provide service in the European theatre of First World War, took three years to quell down by the British colonialists during which several lives unforeseen since the India's First War of Independence were lost.

At the conclusion of the rebellion, the British sorted out three most important personalities -Pu Enjakhup, a former sepoy of the Naga Hills Battalion and the mastermind of the "Kuki rebellion", Pu Ngulkhukhai and one "Manipuri adventurer" Chingakhamba were handed much more stringent punishment while other chiefs were given lesser punishment, stated Robert Reid.

The term "Rebellion"

The word "rebellion" suggests that the policy and planning of the foreign rulers are unacceptable for the people and the indigenous people chose to disagree with the demands. Interestingly, it also implies that the Kukis who were living in the then native state of Manipur which had undeniably defined political boundaries, are "indigenous" as much as the ethnic Manipuri Nagas and ethnic Meeteis are, as the term "indigenous" is not based on particular year but attachment to lands and identification of the self with the villages where one's earlier generation hailed from, amongst many others.

Had the Kukis been not indigenous to the state of Manipur and had no attachment to the villages they had occupied a century ago after the Great Kuki immigration/ invasion of Manipur, they certainly would not have been defiant and resorted to guerrilla skills to resist the attempt of the British to have the Kuki people enlisted in the 2nd Manipur Labour Corps.

Unfortunately, few Manipuri intellectuals, often has a tendency to focus in the literal meaning of the word "foreigner" and seems to be ambiguous in disseminating and distinguishing the meaning that exists in the distinction of the term "foreigners" and "indigenous" to the masses of ignorant ethnic Meeteis.

Though the definition of the word foreigner is clearly distinguished in modern India from the concept of citizenship, the exact determination of the meaning of the word "indigenous" is accountable to complexities.


Amongst many of the departing normative behaviour of the masses of Manipur, irrespective of ethnicity, is the interpretation of the meaning of social issues based on assumption or influenced by some self-interested groups with the intention or without deeper understanding of the concerned term.

There is no universally accepted definition of the word "indigenous" and henceforth is open to several interpretations.

Driven out by more ferocious tribes, particularly the Lushais, modern day Mizos, the Thadous or the "New Kukis" poured in thousands in the hills of Manipur beginning the middle of the 19th century and established new villages, sometimes to establish as a buffer zone against the raids of the formidable Angami Nagas and Lushai-related clans on both British and Manipur subjects respectively.

During the tumultuous period, the then reigning Manipur ruler Maharaj Nara Singh with the active assistance of political agent McCulloch also took trouble to have them settled in various parts of the state.

Ethnic Kukis were also recruited in the Manipuri army in subduing several tribal villages which failed to paid tribute to the Manipuri rulers and played an important role during the Lushai expedition of 1870, Seize of Kohima in 1878-led by then Col Johnstone as well as the disastrous and humiliating defeat of Manipuri army in the hands of the Kamhau/ Suktes during the reign of Maharaj Chandrakriti, known as Ngameingam by the Thadou as per W Shaw's "The Thadou Kukis."

Notably, Manipur kings and Meeteis of the 19th century after being converted into Hinduism were severely depopulated and almost annihilated by the Burmese prior to and during the period of "Seven Years Devastation" before Manipur's sharpest and ambitious ruler "Iningthou" Gambhir Singh reclaimed the throne of erstwhile kingdom of Manipur, retook Kabaw valley and established Chindwin River (Ningthi Turel) as the eastern boundary of the state.

Nevertheless, ethnic Meeteis had lost their warrior capacities and gradually declined themselves into lives of idleness, discarded its earlier virtues, and began to involve in growing Hindu orthodoxy which is another reason for the initiation of ethnic grudges before modern day Meetei generation have completely discarded this abominable system. Irresponsible discussions creates ethnic grudges, not tension

The matter of Kukis being associated with the term "foreigners" would not have emerged if not for one elderly person, a retired Indian army officer, and his organisation which constitutes of less than half a dozen persons and does not present the viewpoint of all the Meeteis.

In all assumption, the senior citizen did not properly grasped the meaning of "foreigners" from modern point of view or misunderstood with the Chins of Myanmar which reportedly have been migrating into the state of Manipur to escape the crackdown on Chin Hills in the last decade by the Tatmadaw, before the Burmese Junta made changes in the administrative functions of that neighbouring country in recent times.

Chins were also intimidated and deported during the periodic "anti-foreigners campaign" in Mizoram, particularly during the 2003 campaign launched by the powerful Young Mizo Association, supported by the legal authorities and the host population-the Mizos.

The ongoing Inner Line Permit (ILP) brought up issues providing fodder for new grudges between two linguistically- similar ethnic groups who have been allies ever since their advent in the state.

Aside from the confusion and staunch stand for determination to have a particular base year for determining indigenous people, implementation of ILP, which is of absolute necessity for the indigenous populace from the massive influx of Bangladeshis, Nepalis and reportedly illegal immigrants of Chins from neighbouring Myanmar.

The endless, directionless and un-conclusive discussion by some intellectuals on the meaning of "foreigners, indigenous and outsiders" cropped up the issue which raised the unnecessary matter of Manipur's Kukis being associated with foreigners or not.

Etymologically, the Kukis of Manipur are indigenous for their attachment to the areas they occupy just as ethnic Meeteis have religious attachment to the sacred sites of Koubru peak, Nongmaijing Hills, Langol and many others in the hill districts.

On the other hand, descendants of the Kukis (Thadous and Khongjais) who have settled in various parts of Manipur till NSCN (IM) and its Nagalim Guards unleashed the ethnic cleansing of Kuki civilians during the nineties of the last century cannot imagine and understand why they have been termed as "foreigners" and are seriously offended by such irresponsible statements which can be of impending danger for the most sensitive state of India.

Lastly, another historic moment that should not be forgotten is that, during the period when Maharaj Bodhchandra was under intense pressurize by both the newly formed democratic India and the Hindu Meeteis, Kuki chiefs (mostly the Haokips) sent more than 150 men to aid Bodhchandra to resist the signing of the merger agreement and protect the king from her Hindu subjects.

Such contributions and sacrifices made by the ethnic Kuki are not to be ignored and should be honoured by the government in all its capacities.

However, the reported migration of the Chins, who are nationals of Myanmar, needs to be figured out carefully as Kukis are also known as Chins in the eastern neighbouring country.

* Phanjoubam Chingkheinganba wrote this article for
The writer Imphal-correspondent of Assam-based Asomiya Pratidin newspaper and can be contacted at phanjching(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on September 06, 2016.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Lafoi Shamda puthorkpa #2 : Gallery
  • Sangai Fest: Commercial Stalls #3: Gallery
  • The joy of living :: Poem
  • Bamboo a tree or grass ?
  • SELF Workshop on Leadership & Fulfilment
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Fight against corruption; we need Lokayukta
  • Hailing the role of drivers
  • Nangna Helli Nungshiba #2 :: eRang
  • Pung Chollom : Gallery
  • Wakhal Seireng :: Book Review
  • Imphal Jamboree by Global Shapers
  • Importance of regular health check-ups
  • Meetei demand for ST is Constitutional.. #2
  • Weapon Display organized at Moreh
  • Ex-Servicemen Rally organized
  • AR helps Orphanage & Old Age Home
  • Search of comprehensive culture & identity
  • List of MLA (Jan 2018) #1 : Gallery
  • Manipur Gas Today :: Android App
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #3: Gallery
  • GNRC media fellowship announced
  • The Meiteis- Festival & celebration maniacs
  • How to make bridal mehndi long lasting
  • Governor's attention drawn to RIMS
  • Scientist develops prototype of electric car
  • Stereotypes about NE make people living..
  • Light Show at Loktak Lake #5 : Gallery
  • Candlelight vigil for Pravish : Gallery
  • Imbroglio of ethnic identity of Ranglong
  • Foundation For Excellence scholarship
  • Time Table - Class XII Exam 2018
  • Mail spoofing- Trickery by deception
  • Trial by fire
  • Call for solution before election
  • Villagers along Myanmar border get pass
  • Meetei Chanu 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Tonreimung, Willubuibou: eMing
  • Art and Artist, A Creative Space
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows #2 : Gallery
  • Ode to Thy Mellow Light :: Poem
  • Xmas with Meitei eche at Phaijol
  • Time Table - Class XI Exam 2018
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • IMC , now another hurdle to traffic mgmt
  • Setting aside two days for the people
  • Maring: Kummui Chaa-um : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #5 : Gallery
  • Statehood Day Women's Polo Tournament
  • Time Table - HSLC Exam 2018
  • Bananas: Beauty's best friend
  • DPC for Follower at Manipur Police
  • Job Openings at JCRE Skill Solutions
  • The lost treasure
  • Nagas' Interests : Stand of NPF MSU
  • Nagaland polls on schedule: HM
  • Mukna Kangjei Tournament #2: Gallery
  • Keisham Manihar : Natyabhusan(Leela)
  • World Tourism Day #3: Gallery
  • Responsibility of protecting the environment
  • Phishing vs Vishing: The Verbal Challenge
  • BNHS Bi-monthly Program for Jan-Feb
  • Managing weight for preventing diabetes
  • Making democracy peoples' participatory
  • Progressing from media to SC
  • Manipur to set up modern food lab
  • Gaan Ngai @ Kakhulong Khun: Gallery
  • A trip to Moreh #2 : Gallery
  • How long catchy slogans keep hopes alive
  • Recycling of hospital waste-water
  • I am sometime or somewhere : Poem
  • Angami Zapu Phizo's Surreal 2017 AD
  • Film "Legacy Of King Narak" awarded
  • Of PM and our CM
  • Patronising the killing machines ?
  • Deferment of polls unlikely: Ravi
  • PM may visit Manipur in March
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #2: Gallery
  • NEROCA FC Vs East Bengal #2: Gallery
  • Transform Colleges into Innovation Centres
  • New Delhi: World Book Fair 2018 :: Review
  • Cry Of A Dying River...12 :: Poem
  • Workshop on National Pension for NE
  • Law enforcers action - Well & good
  • Final pact yet to see light of day
  • Cold wave hits Manipur
  • Take out the cymbals, Manoharsai to stay
  • Indo-Naga Peace Process :: Articles
  • MaiOn - Scenes #2 :: eRang
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2: Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #4 : Gallery
  • Is Global Warming Natural or Anthropogenic
  • Prof Gangmumei Kamei: Legendary hero
  • Common Education System rally organized
  • DAMMS launched 2018 calendar
  • Chorus for 'Solution Not Election'
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows #1 : Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @Moirangkhom : Gallery
  • I was born healthy, I wanna die healthy
  • Practice peace & change the life
  • TSA Moreh Block installed
  • Cycle Rally: common education system
  • Ethics, medical profession & soaring fees
  • Meetei Chanu 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Meira rally for Pravish : Gallery
  • Accelerate momentum to endTB for SDGs
  • The call that can't be turned down
  • Live@MDU: New act with same old vibes
  • 1st Centre of Excellence- Electronics Skill
  • LED Lights installed by Loktak Station
  • NE tragedy: Policy failures & influx
  • Angaoba - Scenes #3 :: eRang
  • 51st Mr Manipur Contest 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Result: Manipur Sangai Intl Digital salon
  • Use Swachhata App to Make Imphal No. 1
  • Career @ events and celebration
  • Night nourishing
  • Indo-Nepal Friendship: 25 yrs of Don Bosco
  • Understanding the indices of life
  • Poppy cultivation & drug cartels
  • Emoinu Khoiramba @Koubru #1: Gallery
  • Day 10: Closing of Sangai Fest #4 : Gallery
  • The creation of the universe, matter...
  • Mumbai: The city of dreams
  • Let this new year kill your new fears
  • Asian Waterbird Census: Count waterbirds
  • Looking for a better inclusive alternative
  • Coaching & commercialisation of education
  • New Year picnic @ Singda Dam : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #3 : Gallery
  • Despite Stolen Dreams :: Book Rvw
  • Handloom Training @Hojai : Gallery
  • The Perfect timing
  • IGAR (south) meets Chief Minister
  • Communique from Neiphiu Rio on NDPP
  • Discussion on 'Rohingyas' at Delhi
  • In the process of making change- Manipur
  • Looking ahead from vantage point 2017
  • NEROCA FC Vs East Bengal #1: Gallery
  • World Tourism Day #2: Gallery
  • Immediate Manipur
  • Easter Peace :: Poem
  • You are what you eat
  • Goals for Girls: Leadership Summit @Delhi
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #1: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Front Page Photo #6: Gallery
  • LUCIFER-X released debut EP
  • ..on the ocean of despondence :: Poem
  • Happy new year to State lovers
  • New year, new me: Re-designing self
  • Quiz Competition & Career Awareness
  • Calendar for the Year 2018 :: e-pao Tools
  • Gaan Ngai : Zeliangrong festival :: Flash
  • 51st Mr Manipur Contest 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Crowd @ Flower Festival @Mao #4: Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai Festival of Zelianglong
  • Goodbye 2017, welcome 2018
  • Cry of a dying river- 11 :: Poem
  • Free Heart OPD & Echocardiogram
  • Peoples' mandate: what next?
  • Understanding Manipur and its history
  • Kwatha (Indo-Myanmar Border) #2: Gallery
  • Thang Ta @Parlimentary : Gallery
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • Bamboo for poverty alleviations
  • A costly peace deal
  • The song of the speech-impaired : Poem
  • Opportunity for NE Youth @Delhi/NCR
  • Chief Of Army Staff visits Manipur
  • Waiting for another begining
  • NE: Little change albeit promises galore
  • Flower Festival @ Mao #3 : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2017 #2 : Gallery
  • Why the Ngamu Fish ?
  • Unsung heroes
  • Wishing a goa in Manipur!
  • Handloom Weaver at Nagaon, Assam
  • Reminder on role of media & political party
  • Hospital death: Deliver justice if delivery ..
  • Restricted Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Lourembam Bedabati : Sangeetbhusan
  • Culturals @ Mera Houchongba #3 : Gallery
  • Handloom Training @Assam : Gallery
  • Ras Leela @Parliment committee: Gallery
  • List of RIST popular talks during 2014-2017
  • 'Good Governance Day' & Manipur
  • Christmas eve @ CCpur #2 : Gallery
  • Public Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • Pui Thangamliu #2 :: eRang
  • Christmas Carol @ Lamphel : Gallery
  • Royal Crematorium at Bangkok #2 : Gallery
  • Christmas Carol at Namdulong : Gallery
  • General Holidays 2018 : Govt of Manipur
  • 3rd Flower Festival @ Mao #2 : Gallery
  • Lafoi Shamda puthorkpa #1 : Gallery
  • Nupilal Ningsing Lamjen : Gallery
  • cYK_rb TwaI :: Seireng
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #7 : Ooba
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download it
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic