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.

  • Sangai Fest: Maibi Jagoi : Gallery
  • NEROCA FC Vs Indian Arrows : Gallery
  • Nupi Lan : Women Agitation, 1939-40 #1
  • Promoting Human Rights: A Perspective
  • Khongji :: Poem
  • Surveying tigers: A big challenge in Manipur
  • Terrorism & Technology - II
  • Silencing significance of Human Right Day
  • Trun up to Parliamentary polls: Issues
  • Deteriorating Tumukhong Village road
  • Sangai Fest: Chareng Len : Gallery
  • International Mountain Day, 2018
  • Loudness not ok please
  • A wounded Pine Tree :: Poem
  • Natural remedies for hair growth
  • BEHS office inaugurated at Motbung
  • Tattooed With Taboos :: Review
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Stone Forest @Yunnan, China : Gallery
  • Eerie, Eerier, Eeriest :: Review
  • Sangai Fest: Muay Thai : Gallery
  • ..that made me fall in love with Naga
  • Research Support Officer wanted
  • Condemns arrest of Journalist Wangkhem
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Programs at Public Health Foundation
  • Fixing the broken window
  • Head count of dogs !!
  • Pari Imom (Film) #2 :: eRang
  • Matheous Thingbaijam Cycling NE: Gallery
  • Chumthang Nganbi, Ulen :: eMing
  • Chengni Khujai: Insurgency Chronicle #1
  • Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2019
  • Tests for allergies
  • Cycling across NE: Matheous Thingbaijam
  • Site Officer/ Manager @R-Square Design
  • Armed Forces Flag Day celebrated
  • A lasting legacy
  • 'Stray dogs' as predators
  • Sangai Day 3: Pung Chollom #2: Gallery
  • Thai Princess @Imphal Airport: Gallery
  • Fashion Show @Sangai Fest #1: Gallery
  • Mysterious Animal Attack of Manipur
  • Khelen Thokchom Media Fellowships
  • Career option in Purchase Management
  • Terrorism & Technology - I
  • Intimidation to media person
  • Ban on hunting migratory birds
  • Manipuri Diaspora in Myanmar #3
  • Sangai Day 3: Pena: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 1: Inauguration #3 : Gallery
  • I am a beautiful HIV Virus :: Poem
  • Teacher & Student: Stop eroding education
  • Diaspora unites at Thadou Nampi, USA
  • Deciding Mary's title :: WJ
  • A good man perspective
  • Now people need to extend co-operation
  • Day 3: Kabi Burnan : Gallery
  • Art meets Fashion : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 5: @ BOAT #3: Gallery
  • NAF announces Annual Scholarship
  • Preventing methods to save livestock
  • How Do You Do ? :: Poem
  • Competitiveness of Manipur
  • Shattered dream - "The Smart city"
  • Arrest, release & re-arrest of young man
  • Ningol Chakouba @ MBC #3 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Thang Ta #3: Gallery
  • Stalls at Hapta Kangjeibung #1: Gallery
  • How do you see 'disability' today ?
  • I don't exist without polo: Rafael Secco
  • The Road :: Poem
  • Students needed for cultural revolution?
  • Hard stand, hard decision
  • Cong rolling up sleeves ahead of LS polls
  • Day 8 : Arambai Langba : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Evening Program #3: Gallery
  • The Midnight Hunter : Analysis
  • Art exhibition "Art meets Fashion"
  • The Haipi Lho-lhun Kut
  • Gaudiya Vaishnavism in Meitei Nation #3
  • Sangai Day 9: Thadou Dance: Gallery
  • Sangai Chef: Cooking Final : Gallery
  • Han Kang's The White Book
  • Sangai Day 4: Yubi Lakpi : Gallery
  • Sangai Chef: Season 1 Cooking Final
  • Disaster Management Course at NEHU
  • Training on Online Fact Checking
  • Clarify : Impact of Act East Policy
  • On the series of Killing of Livestock..
  • Today is World AIDS Day
  • From entrails to body now
  • NESO : abolish Citizenship Bill
  • NEC building cultural centre at Delhi
  • 12th Manipur Polo Intl #1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 9: Kabui Dance : Gallery
  • Day 5: Stalls @Keibul Lamjao: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Holi Pala #1: Gallery
  • Importance of TESOL in Government School
  • Farewell to Lt Gen LN Singh, VSM**
  • Waphong Inthan - A failed village
  • On the arrest of Kishorchand
  • Blank Editorial
  • Predator or predators on the prowl
  • Thai Princess visit Kangla #1: Gallery
  • December Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • Sangai Day 8: Mukna Kangjei #1: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Evening Program #2: Gallery
  • Polo grows on you: Col Tarsem
  • Rediscovery of Gangmumei Kamei: Review
  • For whom does she cry ? :: Poem
  • DG Assam Rifles visits Manipur
  • Detention of TV journalist not fair
  • Arrest of 8 mountaineers from Manipur
  • Sangai Day 4: Lai Haraoba #1: Gallery
  • Bangladesh Manipuri Students : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Pung Chollom #1: Gallery
  • We have a balanced team: George Shelton
  • Cry of a Dying River - 56 :: Poem
  • Sangai with Sumo & Samba ?
  • Morphing : An innocent loses her life
  • Bangladesh Manipuri students at Sylhet
  • Thai princess visits Kangla Fort
  • Olympics gold my dream : Mary Kom
  • Exploring the beaten path
  • Opening up Manipur: Visa office assurance
  • Thai Princess Sirindhorn @Sangai : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2018 #5: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 6: Pherzawl Dance : Gallery
  • Manipuri Maichou 7 :: Book Review
  • Chandon :: Poem
  • Conservation of biodiversity
  • Defers proposed indefinite highway bandh
  • 19th Hornbill Festival at Kisama
  • Sangai stops dancing
  • Mary Kom: Epitome of sporting excellence
  • Sangai Day 5: Evening Prog #1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 5: Thailand Dance : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Imphal Art Camp : Gallery
  • Edward Armstrong - USA Polo Team
  • An abrupt journey to an oasis of blue bull
  • Winter Blues :: Poem
  • Technical Internship Training for Japan
  • NPF on Nagaland Deputy Chief Minister
  • A ditch to Technology
  • Border row: India Myanmar, sacrificial lamb
  • Sangai Day 4: Pena Esei :Gallery
  • Day 5: Sangai Chef: Season 1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Evening Program #1: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival 2018: Turning into a Mela?
  • Sumo Wrestling: popular event in Sangai
  • Sangai Chef: Season 1: Cooking : Day 5
  • Truths in rumours & humours
  • PANE Conference organized at AUDC
  • Sangai Day 2: Dance from Kamjong: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Thang Ta #1: Gallery
  • Can we have the Sangai festival daily?
  • Platonic love :: Poem
  • IGAR(s) congratulates Mary Kom
  • WPW Syndrome operated and cured
  • NSUD clarification on Nagas' Meet
  • National Highway bandh from Nov 27
  • Prospective candidates of Cong, BJP
  • Sangai Day 2: Sumo Wrestling #1: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Myanmar : Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Geet Govinda: Gallery
  • 2017- a watershed year for Manipur Polo
  • Faculties (PG) at Gauhati University
  • Biodiversity for economic development #2
  • Mera Kongchat Mass Rally #4: Gallery
  • Sangai Chef: Season 1 : Day 1
  • GC Tongbra's 'Chengni Khujai'
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Thy name :: Poem
  • Bartending as a career option #2
  • Legal Awareness Programme
  • Tribute to Bhupen Hazarika at London
  • Blessing for Manipur
  • Cherry Blossom & Sangai: beyond Imphal
  • Sangai Fest: Inauguration #2 : Gallery
  • Sangai Fest: Inauguration #1 : Gallery
  • Natural Resources Management in Manipur
  • Leishemba Takhellambam : Polo Player
  • Robert Naorem at Eco Friendly Australia
  • Cry of a Dying River - 55 :: Poem
  • Jobs at ICERT, MeitY
  • NHPC Raising Day at Loktak Power Station
  • Where have all the city buses gone ?
  • Back to politics: Man from Langthabal AC
  • Mera Wayungba #2 : Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba @Pune : Gallery
  • State Level Basketball : Gallery
  • Combating drug abuse in Manipur
  • Ningol Chakkouba celebrated at Pune
  • Glamour at 55th Naga's Meet 2018, Delhi
  • Myanmarese greeted at Khudengthabi
  • Rejoinder to PRO IGAR(s) statement
  • Quami Ekta Divas
  • Subsuming a smaller tribe
  • Kwatha Festival #2 : Gallery
  • ChingTam Ningol Chakouba @Goa: Gallery
  • Thoudam Kaoba :: Profile of Polo Player
  • The festival of the Inpui Nagas
  • Hazari/Tombi Polo Tournament : Gallery
  • Ashok Veilou (Purul) award in Kolkata fest
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Mysore #2 : Gallery
  • Scaramouche, Fandango, Galileo, Figaro..
  • Laija (Film Scenes) #1 :: eRang
  • Ningol Chakouba @ Dubai #2 : Gallery
  • Lamklai Kummoi Maring Fest #2: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakouba Nga Mela #2 : Gallery
  • Rajkumar Jhaljit : Sahityaratna 2017
  • Ningol Chakouba :: Poem
  • Kut festival @ Chandel : Gallery
  • Ningol - mapam lamdam : Gallery
  • Mera Houchongba @Konung #3: Gallery
  • Fabrics of Bangladeshi Manipuri: Download
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Mera Houchongba @Konung #1: Gallery
  • Eepan Thaba #1: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download
  • mtM :: Seireng
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #4: Gallery
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic