TODAY -

A rejoinder to TNLís Diatribe on the Kukis

T. Haokip *



It is startling to see how the Tangkhul community based organisation - the Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL), is now involved in an acrimonious diatribe between militant groups who are trying to harebrained one another.

The so called "clarification" of the TNL on 22nd February 2019 shows the misunderstanding of historical knowledge ingrained in the minds of few malicious leaders Ė of generalisation drawn from unrelated and disputed incidents or cases, so as to indignify the others as a whole.

It indicates the predisposition of some Tangkhul leaders who do not want to live peacefully with their neighbours. It compels me to jot down few lines to surreptitiously sensitise the humdrumous diatribes so that sensible people among both the Kukis and Nagas, who are concerned about vindictive people, should seek for peace and harmony among both the communities.

One of the earliest reports on the Eastern Frontier of British India by R.B. Pemberton (p. 14) in 1835 records the "chain of mountains" surrounding Manipur valley as inhabited by two categories of tribes: "Of these, the principal are the Murams (Marams), the Kupooees (Kabuis), and the Khongjuees, who under the more generally known names of Kookies, Koochungs, and Kuci".

Besides these principal tribes Pemberton (p. 15) also mentions that "there are several others of inferior note, principally dependent on Munepoor, such as the Tangkools (Tangkhuls), Koms, Changsels, Cheeros, Anals, Poorums, Mueeyols, Munsangs, Murings, and Loohooppas".

The report about Tangkhuls being "inferior" and "principally dependent" shows how the Tangkhuls are numerically insignificant at the time this colonial officer wrote his report. It is in sharp contrast to the present status of the Tangkhuls who are the second numerous tribe in the hills of Manipur.

These clearly shows how many of the Tangkhuls were yet to be there at the present territory of Manipur, but were somewhere else (in Burma) and moved to their present habitat during the last two centuries.

One of the other accounts of the North East Frontier by Alexander Mackenzie (1884: 203) also records: "The Tankhools are Manipuri subjects". As much as the Tangkhuls and Meiteis had historical relationship, so did the Kukis with the Meitei kings, and also with the Rajah of Sumjuk and the Maharajah of Tipperah (Tripura), and "live in the enjoyment of comparative independence" as Pemberton (p. 17) would record.

Pemberton (p. 14) also mentions that the territory of the Kukis "stretch from the southern borders of the Munepoor valley to the northern limit of the province of Arracan".

The Calcutta Review in 1860 (p. 342) also mentioned that "A considerable portion of the hills is occupied by the Kukis, who are a very numerous tribe and are to be found in the range of hills which extend from Cachar and Munnipore to Sylhet, Tipperah and Chittagong".

It also adds: "There can be no doubt that they are connected with the royal family of Tipperah" (The Calcutta Review, LXX(1), 1860, p. 344). On the causes of the Naga-Kuki conflict of the 1990s, it is no use going back to who or what caused the conflict. It will be again back to square one, each blaming the other.

With regard to the question of the so called "indigeneity", of who is indigenous to a particular place or not, will be debated and the debate will continue until we realise that everyone is indigenous to the particular place they have lived for generations. As we can see questioning the indigeneity of the Kukis is a humdrum of the Tangkhuls since long.

A recent study on the "Origin of The Nagas" by Dr. R. Xavier, Assistant Professor, Department of History, Loyola College, Chennai, published in the current issue of International Journal of Management, Technology And Engineering, on 3rd February 2019, concludes that:
"From the oral history, we may conclude that Nagas hailed from mainland of China who migrated to Myanmar along the rivers and corridors. They migrated to the Southern Seas of Myanmar along the rivers and lived near the Seas coast of Moulmein (Myanmar) for generations before they retreated to Irrawaddy and Chindwin valleys. They lived for generations in Irrawaddy valley but most probably they were driven out to the hills by more advanced races in warfare. The Nagas emigrated from Irrawaddy valley through Indo-Myanmar corridor and settled down at MAKHEL (Dispersal site of Naga tribes), where they were believed to be dispersed to various parts of Naga Hills."
Full text article available at: (http://ijamtes.org/gallery/3-feb19.pdf).

It is a historical fact that all communities in North East India settle in their present habitat at a certain historical point. Some came from the north, some from the south, while others from the east. Such studies on memories of origin and migration are still going on. Historical and archaeological studies points that we were once all immigrants, and how do we claim some are more indigenous than the other just because of few people's territorial ambitions? Such claims are madness.

The British colonial rulers created new spatial order that hitherto didn't existed to bring about certain form of governance. In the process fluid inter-village borders became fixed. Spatial consciousness with such geopolitical transformation of the Northeastern region gradually becomes a source of nagging conflict after the creation of subnational states.

Today many Tangkhuls moved to Dimapur and other cities of India in search of better avenues. It is the circumstances at home that they move to another place. Some Tangkhuls even venture out in Chandel district to establish new villages in recent decades. These are historical trajectory that has to be understood rather than infuse a devilish mind and engage in an endless debate going nowhere.


* T. Haokip (from New Delhi) wrote this article, forwarded to e-pao.net by Kukiintellects News
Kukiintellects News can be contacted at kukiintellects(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on March 05, 2019.



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