Who are the Indigenous People of Manipur ?
- Part 7 -

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *


1. International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

August 9 is celebrated every year around the world as the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples in recognition of the first meeting of the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva in 1982. The event brings together indigenous peoples' organizations, UN agencies, Member States, civil society and the general public.( /international-day-of-the-worlds-indigenous-peoples.html )

2.International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples

In 1990, the UN General Assembly proclaimed 1993 as the International Year of the World's Indigenous Peoples (A/RES/45/164 A/RES/47/75). Later, the General Assembly established two International Decades of the World's Indigenous Peoples: the first 1995 - 2004 (resolution 48/163), and the second 2005 - 2014 (resolution 59/174)

By resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples shall be observed on 9 August every year.

The theme of the previous observances were as follows:-
o 2019 Theme: Indigenous Languages
o 2018 - theme : Indigenous people's migration and movement.
o 2017: "10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples"
o 2016: "Indigenous Peoples' Right to Education"
o 2015: "Post 2015 Agenda: Ensuring indigenous peoples' health and well-being"
o 2014: "Bridging the gap: implementing the rights of indigenous peoples"
o 2013: Indigenous peoples building alliances: Honouring treaties, agreements and other constructive arrangements
o 2012: Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices
o 2011: Indigenous designs: celebrating stories and cultures, crafting their own future
o 2010: Celebrating Indigenous Film Making
o 2009: Indigenous Peoples and HIV/AIDS
o 2008: Reconciliation between States and indigenous peoples
o 2007: Urgent need to preserve indigenous languages
o 2006: Indigenous Peoples: human rights, dignity and development with identity
o 2005: The Cause of Indigenous Peoples is Ours
( )

Political career ]

Jamir was a member of the negotiation body that held talks with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1960 leading to the establishment of Nagaland as a state within India.[1] He was one of the signatories of the 16th Point Agreement which brought about the creation of Nagaland state and is today considered as one of the architects of modern Nagaland.

Jamir was elected as the first Lok Sabha Member from the state of Nagaland. From 1961 to 1970, he has served as Member of Parliament and during this period he has also served as the Union Deputy Minister of Railways, Labour & Rehabilitation, from 1968 to 1970, served as the Union Deputy Minister of Community Development & Cooperation, Food and Agriculture. He was appointed as the Parliamentary Secretary to Jawaharlal Nehru, then Prime Minister who was also in charge of the Ministry of External Affairs. He was a member of UN delegation in 1962.

In 1971, he was first voted to the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. He served as Chief Minister of Nagaland five times (1980, 1982- 1986, 1989- 90 and 1993- 2003). The third definition is that those who were given permanent settlement or regular employment by the King during monarchy will be taken as the indigenous people of Manipur.

3. The Government of India held Referendum /Plebiscite on five Occasions.

The weakness of Indian Constitution is that it does not make any mention about " Indigenous People" " Self Determination", " Plebiscite " Referendum " etc which are the Core Elements of Democracy". Although not included in the Constitution, the Government of India has conducted Plebiscite or Referendum in case of Sylhet (7 July 1947). Junagadh (February 20, 1948 ) Goa (16 January 1967), Pondicherry (On October 18, 1954 ), Sikkim.( 14 April 1975.).

Referendums have also been held in Sikkim and Pondicherry to decide if they wanted to be a part of India. Lack of definition of " Indigenous People" is not the fault of the Indigenous people in question but it is the fault or weakness of the Indian Constitution.

Referendums / Plebiscite is a method of obtaining the opinion of people on any issue

On 27 October, 2019, S. C. Jamir.(Senayangba Chubatoshi) (born on 17 October 1931), former Chief Minister of Nagaland, Governor of Maharashtra, Governor of Gujarat, Governor of Goa and Governor of Odisha. said that only those born and brought up by Naga blood are the indigenous of indigenous people of Nagaland. He was speaking at the launch of Nagaland Indigenous People's Forum (NINPF) at Don Bosco School, Dimapur. He further said " A Naga from Manipur ssam or Arunachal Pradesh is indigenous in his own State but not of Nagaland and this should be clear. A NAGA OF Manipur can not claim that he is an indigenous of Nagalandby virtue of being a Naga. Such misconceptions >

Definition of Scheduled Tribes

The term 'Scheduled Tribes' first appeared in the Constitution of India under Article 366 (25), which defined Scheduled Tribes as "such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under Article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this constitution". Article 342, which is reproduced below, prescribes procedure to be followed in the matter of specification of scheduled tribes.

Article 342

The President may, with respect to any State or Union territory, and where it is a state, after consultation with the Governor there of by public notification, specify the tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within tribes or tribal communities which shall, for the purposes of this constitution, is deemed to be Scheduled Tribes in relation to that State or Union Territory, as the case may be..

Parliament may by law include in or exclude from the list of Scheduled Tribes specified in a notification issued under clause (1) any tribe or tribal community or part of or group within any tribe or tribal community, but save as aforesaid, a notification issued under the said clause shall not be varied by any subsequent notification.

Thus, the first specification of Scheduled Tribes in relation to a particular State/ Union Territory is by a notified order of the President, after consultation with the State Governments concerned. These orders can be modified subsequently only through an Act of Parliament. The above Article also provides for listing of Scheduled Tribes State/Union Territory wise and not on an all India basis.

In India, there are 705 ethnic groups officially recognized as "Scheduled Tribes," although there are several ethnic groups that are also considered Schedule Tribes, but are not officially recognized.

The Criterion followed for specification of a community, as scheduled tribes are indications of primitive traits, distinctive culture, geographical isolation, shyness of contact with the community at large, and backwardness. This criterion is not spelt out in the Constitution but has become well established. It subsumes the definitions contained in 1931Census, the reports of first Backward Classes Commission 1955, the Advisory Committee (Kalelkar), on Revision of SC/ST lists (Lokur Committee), 1965 and the Joint Committee of Parliament on the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes orders (Amendment) Bill 1967 (Chanda Committee), 1969.

On the eve of first India-Pakistan war in Octber,1947, General Sam Manekshaw in a meeting with Lord Mountbattten, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel said "If somebody says he can die for his country, either he is telling lies or he must be a Gurkha. (Premji, A Nomad Repaints the Globe. PartridgeIndia. pp. 70- . ISBN 978-1-4828-1337-1.) The Britsh Government , the Indian Government have a fulll trust of the honesty, courage of the Gorkhas /Nepalis.

The United Nations estimates that there are over 370 million indigenous people living in over 70 countries world wide. ( factsheet1.pdf ) This would equate to just fewer than 6% of the total world population. This includes at least 5000 distinct peoples in over 72 countries. ( )

2. Definition of a Citizen of India

The definition of Indigenous People is different from the definition of a Citizen. The definition of Citizen is given in the Article 5 of the Indian Constitution. The Article 5 of the Indian Constitution says that at the commencement of this Constitution, every person who has his domicile in the territory of India andó(a) who was born in the territory of India; or (b) either of whose parents was born in the territory of India; or (c) who has been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years immediately preceding such commencement, shall be a citizen of India.

The Indian Citizenship may be acquired (1) birth (2) descent (3) registration (4) naturalisation (5) incorporation of territory (6) registration of Overseas Citizen of India

In February 2004 the Supreme Courts of India decided that the Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes (Preventions of Atrocities) Act of 1989 still applied to crime victims from scheduled tribes and castes, even if they had converted from Hinduism to another religion. The decision was in response to an appeal of a Kerala High Court decision, which held that because a rape victim had converted to Christianity she was no longer covered by the Act.

As per the 1991 Census, the Scheduled Tribes of India account for 67.76 million representing 8.08 percent of the country's population. Scheduled Tribes are spread across the country mainly in forest and hilly regions. The essential characteristics of these communities are:- Primitive Traits Geographical Isolation, Distinct Culture Shy of contact with community at large, Economically Backwardness

In India, there are 705 ethnic groups officially recognized as "Scheduled Tribes," although there are several ethnic groups that are also considered Schedule Tribes, but are not officially recognized. ( )

The Declaration does not create new or special rights for indigenous peoples; rather, it elaborates on existing human rights standards and articulates them as they apply to the particular situation of indigenous peoples. Therefore, the Declaration illustrates the interdependent and indivisible nature of international human rights norms and standards: The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples represents an authoritative common understanding, at the global level, of the minimum content of the rights of indigenous peoples, upon a foundation of various sources of international human rights law.

His original name was Thangwai Ningthouba . He was given the title of Kyaamba after conquering Kyaang, a Shan kingdom in the Kabow Valley of Burma ( present Myanmar). Kyaang or Kyaang Khambaat was a Shan kingdom in the Kabow valley. Kyaamba captured and brought the king of Kyaang, Chao Seng along with their family members. In the third year of his reign , Thangwai Ningthouba and his ally Choupha Khek Khomba , the king of Pong attacked Kyaang. They destroyed Kyaang with an army of only 100 Manipuri cavalry. They celebrated their victory by eating and drinking from the vessels of gold. Thangwai Ningthouba was now Kyaamba, , the conqueror of Kyaang .

The relation between Khekkhomba and Kyaamba was very cordial. Choupha Khek Khomba requested the help of Kyaamba in his war against Kyaang-Khambat (Khampat: kham for gold and Pat for lake) to which the Manipur king agreed to support the cause of the king of Pong. Thus the joint forces of the two kings raided Kyaang-Khambat and subdued its chief named Chao Seng and Kyaamba was offered one princess and another girl, the daughter of one Haoroksu. The cause of the joint expedition against the Khambat Raja arose from the fact that two princesses of Khekkhomba were given in marriage - one to each of the chiefs of Samjouk (Thangdaud) and of Khumbat who were tributary chiefs of Khek khomba.

When the two princesses reached Samjouk, the one who had to proceed upto Khambat, did not like the separation and therefore requested their father to review the negotiation. The king agreed and she was allowed to stay at Samjouk. At this the Raja of Khambat felt offended. The Khambat raja demanded that the dowry he was to have received with the princess should be still paid and a remission of tribute be granted to him for three years . The latter request only was complied with. The Khambat raja was angry at the treatment, built a strong fort and prepared to throw off his allegiance to the king of Pong .

In this state of affairs, the king of Pong sent an embassy headed by a Shan nobleman called Chow Lang Hiee to Thangwai Ningthouba, the king of Manipur requesting for a daughter in marriage . Thangwai Ningthouba agreed and sent his younger sister since he did not have any daughter princess of marriageable age at that time. In 1475, the Manipuri princess left Manipur for Pong escorted by Chow Lang Hiee . On reaching the Sekmoo hill, the cavalcade was attacked and the Manipuri princess was carried off by the raja of Khambat .

The Shan nobleman made his escape and reported the disaster of the capture of the princess to the king of Pong . The king of Pong immediately took measures to avenge the gross insult . He crossed the Ningthee or Chindwin river with a considerable force , entered the valley where he was joined by the Manipur king . They besieged Khambat and the Khambat raja made his escape to the southward on a spotted elephant .

Kyaamba, King of Manipur and his ally Choupha Khek Khomba, King of Pong exchanged gifts and also concluded their friendly treaty by fixing the common boundary between Manipur and the kingdom of Pong . According to the treaty , the eastern limit of the Kingdom of Manipur was the whole of the Noajeeree hills. The Kabow valley when viewed from above, presents a vast expanse of dark primeval Saul (Teak) forest , in the very heart of which cleared spaces are discerned , varying from two to eight miles in circumference (7000 Sq.Km) as the spot happens to be the site of a village or town. ( R.B. Pemberton-The Eastern Frontier of India" , Mittal Publications, New Delhi , 1835, page 122, 117 ) .

King Kyaamba once fell sick and no physician could diagnose his sickness. The oracles were consulted and advice was received through Maibis or Amaibis (Priestess) that the king could be diagnosed if worship was offered to Lord Vishnu. The Guru Aribams were highly respected Brahmins and they were given a special seat of honour in festivals and ceremonies held in the king's palace and other places. Next year about 36 Hindu monks, including a preceptor of the king of Assam arrived. There were arrivals of many Brahmins during his time.

Some Brahmins who were well acquainted with puja (ritual) of Lord Vishnu were available in Manipur in those days.

In 1475, King Kyaamba in respect of the King of Pong built a brick temple at Lamangdong, 27 km south of Imphal. Later, two Brahmins namely Banamali and Haribidyasur, migrated from Cachar understood "PHEIYA" as the Hindu God, Vishnu. They announced that rice boiled in cow milk (Sangom Ksheer) should be offered to the deity in order to bring good fortune to the King and the people of his kingdom.

Accordingly, Meidingu Kyaamba appointed the Brahmins in the service of the deity. Afterwards, the followers of the Brahmin were known as Bishnupriya and the place was named Bishnupur. The worship of Bishnu was started in Manipur during the reign of king Kyaamba. From the Burmese words "Pheiya" , the temple in which Bishnu was wroshipped was known as "Phura " in Manipuri. The descendants of the Brahmin who worshipped at the Phura became known as Phurailatpam.

In 1475, King Kyaamba in respect of the King of Pong built a brick temple at Lamangdong, 27 km south of Imphal. Later, two Brahmins namely Banamali and Haribidyasur, migrated from Cachar understood "PHEIYA" as the Hindu God, Vishnu. They announced that rice boiled in cow milk (Sangom Ksheer) should be offered to the deity in order to bring good fortune to the King and the people of his kingdom.

Accordingly, Meidingu Kyaamba appointed the Brahmins in the service of the deity. Afterwards, the followers of the Brahmin were known as Bishnupriya and the place was named Bishnupur. The worship of Bishnu was started in Manipur during the reign of king Kyaamba. From the Burmese words "Pheiya" , the temple in which Bishnu was wroshipped was known as "Phura " in Manipuri. The descendants of the Brahmin who worshipped at the Phura became known as Phurailatpam.

Yumnak Sagei of Manipuri Brahmins ( Meitei Bamons )

1. Acharajamayum 2. Adhikarimayum 3. Adhikarimayum Anoubam 4. Anoubam Adhikarimayum
5. Anoubam 6. Aribam Tampapaklailatpam 7. Aribam Bishnulatpam 8. Brajamayum
9. Brajabashimayum 10. Brahmacharimayum 11. Brahmacharimayum Anoubam
12. Brajamayum 13. Brajabashimayum 14. Brahmacharimayum 15. Brahmacharimayum Anoubam
16.Choudhurimayum 17. Dhyandasmayum 18. Gurumayum 19, Gurumayum Angom Lailatpam
20. Guru Aribam 21. Guru Aribam Mayum 22. Gopalhanjaba Mayum 23. Goshaimayum
24. Gotimayum 25. Hangoibam 26. Hanjabam 27. Hanjaba Chandrashyan Mayum
28. Hajari Mayum 29. Hidangmayum 30.. Heikakshimayum 31. Kakchingtabam
32. Kanoujimayum 33.Kulinmayum 34. Kongbrailatpam 35. Laipubam
36. Laimayum 37. Laimayum Anoubam 38. Lakpam 39. Leikhunchangbam
40. Leihaothabam 41. Loubuktongbam 42. Laipubam 43. Laimayum 44. Laimayum Anoubam
45. Lakpam 46. Leikhunchangbam 47. Leihaothabam 48. Loubuktongbam
49. Manoharmayumm 50. Mathurabashimayum 51. Mishramayum 52. Mangkharmayum Sagollailatpam
53. Pandamayum 54, Pitambar Cheithabamayum 55. Phurailatpam 56. Radhakunbashimayum
57. Sanglakpam 58. Sanjukimayum 59. Santumayum 60. Samulailatpam
61. Sitaram Mayum 62. Sijagurumayum 63 Shreemayum 64. Takhenchangbam
65. Tinkhakmayum 66. Thongratabam 67. Wabahanjaba Mayum 68. Warilibam Yangkatmayum .

Concluded .....

* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for
The writer is MBBS, MHA(AIIMS), M.A (Leeds/UK), HSMC( IHF/London), CCAE( Chula/Bangkok) PDCE (UCLA/USA)
Former Medical Superintendent , JNIMS, Ex-Consultant, NACO, Ex-Project Director (MACS)
The writer can be reached at khomdon(DOT)lisam(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on January 18, 2020

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