White paper on disassociation of Liangmai from Zeliangrong organisation
- Part 1 -

Liangmai Naga Council, Manipur *

Chagah Festival : Annual festival of Liangmai community celebrated at Taphou Liangmai village, Senapati :: Oct 30, 2012
Chagah Festival : Festival of Liangmai at Taphou Liangmai village, Senapati in Oct, 2012 :: Pix - Popcha Yambem

It had been told through oral tradition that the people of Inpui, Liangmai, Rongmei and Zeme once lived together at Makuilongdi and they were of the same family. They were called Hanah/Hamai. In course of time, they dispersed from that historic abode, Makuilongdi and settled at different regions and places. When they were together at their original abode, they followed one custom and culture and spoke one language. Even today there are evidences of following one custom/culture and speaking of one language respectively.

However, as they settled at different far places, they began to evolve and adopt different ways of living in their own life style and habits under the influence of the different environments around them. They lost contact with one another. Under such circumstances, they had deviated from the original life style including language. They started speaking deviated speeches and it had become their dialects/languages.

Here lies the mystery, as to how the present dialects of Inpui, Liangmai, Rongmei and Zeme had come into being. It may be concluded that God in His wisdom had a purpose to raise these brothers to a tribe status and beyond. We have to accept and make it developed for His glory. Now we cannot oppose nor deny the emerging facts of differences that had come into practical uses but to accept it.

Formation of Zeliangrong Council: The people of Inpui, Liangmai, Rongmei and Zeme had been officially divided into two groups by the then British –India Regime and identified them with a wrong term which content derogatory meaning. Inpui and Rongmei had been clubbed together under the term Kabui whereas Liangmai and Zeme were identified as Kacha Naga. They did not aware of the fact that they had been wrongly identified with an unknown names. They came to realize only when they go for tribal certification.

Though they were officially known by a strange term, they felt the need of having a common social platform. In order to do so, representatives of Kacha Nagas and Kabuis of Manipur and Naga Hills District of Assam felt it wise to have a social organization of their cognate tribes. They convened a meeting of the concern people on the 15th February 1947, at Keishamthong, Imphal and formed a social body called “ Zeliangrong Council” coined out of Zeme, Liangmai and Rongmei including Inpui tribe.

The primary objectives of the Zeliangrong Council was for social purposes. Resolution No. 1 of the meeting read as,” In view of the close ethnological and cultural connection between the Kabuis and Kacha Nagas of all the Districts of Assam, resolved that they shall henceforth be combined to form a large body with the objects of furthering the economic, social and the educational and political advancement of this units”. Prior to the formation of this social organization ie.Zeliangrong Council, the Inpuis, Liangmais, Zemes and Rongmeis were there in existence. After the formation of Zeliangrong Council, the organization sailed on smoothly for sometimes. Thanks to the elders for their initiatives.

However, the nomenclature, Zeliangrong failed to encompass the whole kindred groups of Makuilongdi origin. The Inpui group was left out from the nomenclature. Though they were not included in the nomenclature they had rendered their yeoman services and sacrificed their lives and time to the cause and welfare of the people in question through thick and thin. Later on, they realized that their name was not in the nomenclature. In order to maintain close blood relationship and sense of oneness and solidarity, the Inpui group requested the leadership of Zeliangrong body to include their name or change the nomenclatureinto any suitable terminology which can encompass all the ethnic groups having Makuilongdi ancestry.

Zeliangrong Union’s Resolutions to Change Zeliangrong to Hamai: On receipt of the petition submitted by the Inpui tribe, the executives of the Union tabled the matter for discussion in their Annual Assembly at Tamenglong Hqrs in 1959. The Assembly after tracing the terms/words by which their forefathers called and identified themselves came to conclusion that the term Hanah/Hamai/Kahanah were commonly used by their forefathers in songs, prayer utterances etc. After detailed deliberations, the Assembly unanimously resolved to replace Zeliangrong by HAMAI in 1959.

To the disappointment of the aggrieved group ie. Inpui, the Zeliangrong Union did not implement their Resolution even after 17 years. The Inpui tribe again requested for the second time to do the needful in the larger interest of the kindred tirbes of Makuilongdi origin. The matter was again discussed in their Annual Assembly held at Longmai in 1976, and endorsed the decision taken in 1959. It was agreed that in order to familiarize the use of the term Hamai, the Union would take 10 years of propaganda/promotion among the people.

After 10 years of exercise, the Union Assembly was convened at Chingmeirong, Imphal in 1985. The issue was put up for discussion and approval. The house approved and agreed to put the term Hamai in use by their Annual Assembly held at Chingmeirong, Imphal in 1985. After the meeting, when the Union Executives tried to implement the decision of the Assembly, there arose a steep opposition from one quarter and there was a serious blow to the function and unity of Zeliangrong.

Some people stormed the Annual Assembly of 1986 held at Muchi/Namthanlong, Imphal and walked out from the Assembly. Within a few days times, the walked away group formed a committee called Zeliangrong Re-Organization Committee. To patch up the differences, Chaguat Phuam (Good Will Mission) was formed by Asha Club, Tamenglong and they had 26 rounds of consultation meets covering Assam, Manipur and Nagaland where the people of Zeme, Liangmai and Rongmei reside.

The whole process took more than one year to negotiate between the two rival groups. At last understanding was brought about and the two rival groups agreed to sign a reconciliation note. The reconciliation ceremony was administered by Revd. MP. Namthiurei at Tamenglong Inspection Bungalow. After the reconciliation of the two factions, the ZU carried on their normal function for some times. But there was a sense of incompleteness in the structure of Union formation. The people and the union executives felt a guilty conscience for not including Inpui tribe in the nomenclature. This conscience urged them to review the previous resolutions taken in this matter.

They put up the issue again in their Annual Assembly of 1998 held at Namdailong, Jiribam and reaffirmed the resolutions taken in the previous Assemblies to replace Zeliangrong by Hamai so as to accommodate all the ethnic/cognate tribes descended from Makuilongdi.

The Zeliangrong Union had repeatedly took 4 resolutions to rename the organization with the objective of encompassing all the kindred tribes of Makuilongdi origin. However, they failed to translate the resolutions into practice. Their failure had caused tremendous negative effect on the unity of the organization. Exit of Inpui From the fold of Zeliangrong: One of the cognate tribes of Makuilongdi descendants, Inpui after several requests, the erstwhile Zeliangrong leadership failed to consider their humble pleads. They had been requesting to accommodate them into the fold of their kindred’s organization since 1959.

Seeing the egocentric attitude of the Zeliangrong leadership, they had no option but to shy away from the fold. They took decision in December 1998 and skipped out from the Zeliangrong Union. It is very sad to see one of the brothers had shied away for not giving a seat in the fold. It was because of the unaccomodative nature of the leaders. They did not feel the pulse of the aggrieved section of the society and could not appreciate the aspiration of the people.

Appeals and suggestions to change the nomenclature of ZU: After the departure of Inpui from the fold of Zeliangrong, pressures were mounted upon the ZU to change the nomenclature of the organization so as to encompass all the kindred tribes of Hamai ethnic group.

(i) The Liangmai Naga Council, Manipur and Nagaland had appealed and submitted a joint representation to ZU to change the nomenclature of Zeliangrong to Hamai for good during their convention held at Longmai on 03-08-1999. The convention was well attended by all frontal leaders including the senior leaders of GPRN. Zeliangrong Region. But the appeal and representation could not could not speak to their understanding.

(ii) A joint consultative meeting of four kindred tribes ie. Inpui, Zeme, Liangmai and Rongmei was held on 16-03-2003, at Namdunlong, Imphal. The meeting was well represented by all councils and Union leaders. After a threadbare deliberation, the meeting resolved to propose to redraft the existing constitution of ZU to pave a away for federal structure and equal representation of all constituent units including Inpui. It was also resolved to suggest to rename the nomenclature of ZU to suit the entry of all cognate tribes. As decided, a representation of four Presidential Council of Inpui, Liangmai, Rongmei & Zeme signed by Mr. ID Kaipisinang, President/LNC on behalf of the Joint Council submitted to the President of Zeliangrong Union on 17-03-2003.

(iii) The Rongmei Literature Society, Manipur had earnestly requested the Peoples Convention called by Zeliangrong Interim Body held at Peren Hqrs Nagaland sometimes in 2010 to reconstruct Zeliangrong body on federal basis to enable all the Makuilongdi descendants share the platform.

(iv) A joint representation of Zeme, Liangmai and Rongmei was also given on the same matter for consideration of the Peoples, Convention. The appeals and suggestions fell on the deaf ears of the Zeliangrong organizations leadership. They did not pay even a least attention to the aspirations of the people for whom they were working. Not only lending their deaf ears to the suggestions and appeals of the mass people, they failed to uphold even their own four resolutions taken in their successive Annual Assemblies and conventions. Their resolutions were to change the composite name of Zeliangrong to Hamai so as to pave the way for entry of all kindred tribes to the fold. The present burning issue is the result of their egocentric attitude.

Vertical Split in the Organization Set up of Zeliangrong: In the meantime, an unpleasant and ugly event had cropped up in the organization structure of Zeliangrong Union. Another apex body called Zeliangrong Boudi had sprang up in 2010, because of leadership crisis. It had brought about a chaos in the society and created disunity among the people. There was unwanted arguments, blame after blame and counter after counter. The society was totally in a mess. The so called two apex bodies, Zeliangrong Union and Zeliangrong Boudi were responsible for such a chaotic situation.

(To be continued)

(Issued by Liangmai Naga Council, Manipur on March 22 2018 )

* Liangmai Naga Council, Manipur wrote this article for The Sangai Express
Dr Suresh Singh is Ex-Director, Health & WHO Fellow
This article was posted on April 26, 2018.

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