TODAY -

The imbroglio of ethnic identity of Ranglong

Dr Antiarbum Ranglong *



The Genesis of Ranglong: The term 'Ranglong' is also simultaneously used as 'Langrong' by different scholars and writers. For instance, GH Damant, in his book 'Notes on the locality and Population of the Tribes Dwelling between the Brahmaputra and Ningthi Rivers' published in 1880, by Stanford University, USA, in the 'Journal of Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland' and GA Grierson, in his research work, 'The Linguistic Survey of India' Vol. III, Part-III, published in 1904, by Kalpaz Publication, New Delhi, used the term Ranglong.

Whereas, CA Soppitt, in his publication on 'A short Account of the Kuki-Lushai Tribe on the North-East Frontier' published in 1887, by Harvard University, USA, TC Hodson, in 'The Naga Tribes of Manipur' published in 1911, by University of London, and Colonel Shakespeare, in 'The Lushei Kuki Clan' published in 1912, by University of California, USA, used the term Langrong. At present, the speakers identify themselves with the term 'Ranglong,' although some of their correlated ethnic tribes like Mizo, Thado etc., still called them 'Langrong.'

GH Damant grouped the Ranglong with 'Old Kukis' of the greater Tibeto-Burman Family (Damant, ibid, 1880: 237). Some of the ethnic tribes of Old Kukis are Bete, Khelma, Rangkhol, Aimol, Chiru, Ranglong etc. The term 'Old and New Kuki' is used to categorise and identify them in relation to their period of migration and contact with the plain population of the present northeast India.

Thus, the 'Old Kukis' are the first and the 'New Kukis' the latter, among the Kuki-Chin groups who migrated in their present areas of settlement and make contact with the plain population. In trying to distinguish the two Kukis, GA Grierson further said, 'Not only do their customs and institutions differs considerably, but their languages are separated by a large group of dialects in the Lushai and Chin Hills. The so-called New Kukis are, so far as we can see, a Chin tribe, most closely related to the inhabitants of the Northern Chin Hills, while the Old Kukis are related the tribes more to the south' (GA Grierson, ibid, 1904: 2).

The Ranglong being an Old Kuki, its origin and phases of migration is the same as other Kuki-Chin groups. There is enough literature within the academic circle regarding the migratory route of the Kuki-Chin groups. They were believed to have migrated from some part of China provinces, to Myanmar and to present northeast India. Till now, the Ranglongs would chant in their folk song called 'Nei omna Durnai phai,' meaning 'our place of settlement is Durnai valley.'

The term 'Durnai valley' here indicates the Kabaw Valley of Burma (present Myanmar). There is no tangible evidence why the Ranglongs migrated from the Kabaw valley of Burma. GH Damant said that the so called Kukis 'are migratory race, living by jhum cultivation and preferring the densest forests' (GH Damant, ibid, 1880: 237). After their migration from Kabaw valley, they entered Champhai district of present Mizoram, the then Lushai Hills, approximately around 1200 to 1300 A.D.

They further move towards Churachanpur district of present Manipur, and settled in and around the confluence of river 'Tiruong and Tivai,' which is commonly known as 'Tipai(mukh)' in corrupted version of Bengali. The accent of the term 'Tivai' got changed to 'Tipai' in Bengali, and the confluence of 'Tiruong and Tivai,' got the name 'Tipaimukh'. The two rivers joined together and flow towards western direction and finally got the name 'Barak' in Barak valley of Assam. In memory of those old settlement the Ranglongs would chant, 'Rili Champhai Zol', meaning 'Rili Champhai plains,' and 'Ruonglevaisuo kati', which means 'in the bank of the confluence of river Tiruong and Tivai'.

'Rili' is also termed as 'Rihdil' by various Kuki-Chin groups. 'Li/Dil' means a lake or pond in Kuki-Chin language. It (Rili) is a big lake in present Myanmar, adjoining Champhai revenue district of present Mizoram and occupies an important place in the history and culture of Mizos. The Mizos still have a sense of belonging to that lake because of its direct linkages with their social history.

The settlement of Ranglong in the confluence of river Tiruong and Tivai (Tipaimukh) was approximately in between 1500 to 1600 A.D. From there, they follow the downstream of river Barak and thereafter dispersed in different direction. Considerable numbers of the Ranglong populations had even migrated to the extent of Sylhet district of present Bangladesh. This is evident from GA Grierson's comparison of population of Ranglong language speakers in Sylhet and North Cachar Hills (GA Grierson, ibid, 1904: 207).

From Sylhet most of them came back following the river 'Langkei' which is 'Longai' in corrupted version of Bengali (the etymology of 'Langkei' is elaborated in the next section), river Juri in present North Tripura district, and river Dhalai in Dhalai district of Tripura. Present settlements of Ranglong: The present settlement of Ranglong is found in three states - Tripura, Assam and Mizoram, having a population of approximately 12000 (twelve thousand).

It is ambiguous whether Ranglong speakers are still in existence in Sylhet district of Bangladesh, Manipur and Myanmar. As of now, there is limited information about their existence in these mentioned regions and hence, could not be generalised. In the state of Tripura, they are mainly concentrated in the hilly terrain of the North Tripura revenue district, under Dharmanagar and Panisagar revenue sub-division, bordering Assam, and in Dhalai district of Tripura.

The locations of most of the Ranglong villages in Tripura are found in adjoining National Highway No. 08 (eight) with few exceptions having a distance of five to ten kilometer away from the said National Highway. Considerable numbers of 'Langkei' and 'Dap' clan of Ranglong community are also found in few interior villages of Kamalpur and Ambassa revenue sub-division of Dhalai revenue district of Tripura. In Assam, they are concentrated in Patherkandi revenue circle of Karimganj district, mostly in the bank of the river Longai bordering Tripura and Mizoram.

Few villages are also under Katlicherra revenue circle of Hailakandi district, and Sonai revenue circle of Cachar district of Assam. In Mizoram, the Ranglongs settled in Zawlnuam sub-division of Mamit district. The Ranglongs have settled in their present areas of settlement for last 400 (four hundred) to 500 (five hundred) years. It is evident from the name of places in their locality that is being officially recognised till date by the government of Assam, Tripura and Mizoram. For instance, there is a river called 'Longai' used as inter-state boundary among the three mentioned Indian federated states.

This river connects Patherkandi revenue circle of Karimganj district of Assam, Panisagar revenue sub-division in north Tripura and Mamit revenue district of Mizoram. The term Longai is a corrupted Bengali version of Ranglong terminology called 'Langkei.' The then incumbent officials of Assam changed the accent from Langkei to Longai. In fact, the word Langkei is nothing but is one of the names of Ranglong clan.

Till now, Langkei is the major clan among the Ranglong Community. Within the native dwellers the river is still recognised as Langkei rather than the corrupted terminology. Since they are believed to be the first settler in the bank of river Langkei, the river ultimately got the name cognate with the native dwellers. Similarly, there is a name of locality officially called 'Solgoi' in present Patherkandi revenue circle of Karimganj revenue district of Assam.

It is a wrong accent of Ranglong terminology called 'Solngui', which is nothing but a name of flower found naturally in that area and that particular area got the name after 'Solngui' flower. The Ranglongs once settled in Solgoi areas before moving the upstream of river Langkei (Longai) bordering Mizoram and Tripura. There is again a popular vehicular check gate of Tripura, connecting Patherkandi revenue circle of Assam, called 'Churai(bari)' under Dharmanagar revenue sub-division of North Tripura.

It is a wrong accent of Ranglong terminology called 'Chorai', which is a major Ranglong clan. They used to settle in that area and that particular area got the name cognate with major Ranglong clan. Ranglong as a distinct Community: Past and PresentUnfortunately, the Ranglong community has become the minority of the minorities in their present respective Indian federated states.

The Ranglong language has also been declared by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as a critically endangered language among the 197 (one hundred ninety seven) languages in India (Press Information Bureau, Government of India, MHRD, 6th Aug. 2014). Evidently, this ethnic community is also very much a victim of amalgamation and delimitation of Indian Territory after Independence.

However, it has to be mention that the Ranglongs had been identified as a separate community having separate identity by various renowned scholars. GH Damant put the Ranglong Community under Old Kuki as against Bete, Khelma and Rangkhol Community (GH Damant, ibid, 1880: 237). CA Soppit also clearly mentioned about the community of Ranglong (CA Soppit, ibid, 1887: 3). GA Grierson had again identified the Ranglong as separate community and accordingly undertook detailed linguistic research on Ranglong language (GA Grierson, ibid, 1904: 207-213). TC Hodson also identified the Ranglong as separate community as against Halam, Rangkhol etc., and put it under Old Kuki group (TC Hodson, ibid, 1911: 19).

Besides, Colonel Shakespeare highlights the Ranglong as distinct to other tribal languages (Colonel Shakespeare, ibid, 1912: 225). Kenneth VanBik, in his research works on, 'Proto-Kuki-Chin: A Reconstructed Ancestor of the Kuki-Chin Language' grouped the Ranglong with Old Kuki as against Halam, Rangkhol, Aimol etc., (Kenneth VanBik 2009: 20). MK Bhasin, in his research works, 'Genetics of Castes and Tribes of India: Indian Population Milieu' also clearly identify the Ranglong as separate community alongside Lushai/Mizo, Rangkhol, Halam etc., (MK Bhasin 2006: 268).

However, the present status of the community is such that it has no official recognition in their respective federated states as Ranglong. The respective state administration has rather merged them with different communities. The Ranglongs in Tripura has been merged with Halam and Tripuri Community, whereas in Assam with the Kuki, Rangkhol/Hrangkhawl and Tripuri Community. In Mizoram they were merged with Rangkhol/Hrangkhawl and any other Mizo tribes (as per the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Orders 'Amendment' Act 1976).

The repercussion is that maximum of the Ranglongs are using the new community, with whom they were merged, as their surname. The serious irony is that, those communities grouped under Old Kuki alongside Ranglong, like Bete, Khelma, Rangkhol, Aimol, Chiru etc., have been recognised as separate tribal community since Indian Independence. Unfortunately, the existence of Ranglong Community has deteriorated to the point of extinction.

However, young and learned generations of the Ranglongs have been slowly and steadily recuperating its past identity in the recent years. Conclusion: Considering their merger with different communities in three federated states in India, the Ranglong community is passing through serious identity crisis. They are officially compelled to identify themselves to a community with which the state government had merged them.

However, it is found that they have been very vocal on their distinct identity as 'Ranglong' and acknowledged their common identity in diverse socio-cultural activities. The Ranglong Youth Association (RYA), a registered association under Societies Registration Act, 1860, and the only umbrella organisation, have been playing a big role for the socio-cultural uplift of the Ranglong community since its inception in 1994.

Indian Constitution contains provisions to accommodate diverse ethnic aspiration without compromising India's sovereignty. But a big challenge is how to convince the respective state administration to address their demand of having a distinct identity. If the criterion to get separate community recognition lies exclusively within the domain of political bargaining power, as is generally experienced, it would be a case of victimising the victim for the Ranglong.

So, there is anticipation among the Ranglongs that if the respective state administration does not take some proactive measures to establish and locate the fact, the Ranglong would continue to be victims of injustice. Therefore, it is not wrong to draw the attention of both union government and state governments particularly Tripura, Assam and Mizoram where Ranglong population is found, and divulge the authenticity of their distinctiveness.


* Dr Antiarbum Ranglong wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Asst Prof, Department of Public Administration, Maharaja Bir Bikram University, Agartala, Tripura.
This article was webcasted on January 14, 2018.



* 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 e-pao.net. 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.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • MU: Students protest[25 Sep] :: Gallery
  • Lamyanba Hijam Irabot :: Read all about
  • Art Exhibition by R & V Art House
  • Against 48 hrs bandh: Thadou Students
  • Leadership / Media seminar at Dimapur
  • Demise of a dream
  • Traffic menace: Ring road, flyover promise
  • Ringui Village, Ukhrul :: Gallery: Gallery
  • Front Page Photo 2018 #4: Gallery
  • Chinglai, Chingmeiren :: eMing
  • Autonomy on a leash
  • Manipur: Past & Present (Vol.1) :: Book
  • Cry of a Dying River - 46 :: Poem
  • NSS Cell at Assam Don Bosco University
  • Shattering the dream of Irabot
  • Pandey, Pandey all the way : MU crisis
  • World Bamboo Day #1: Gallery
  • Financial aid to AMWJU member, K. Bipin
  • Meitei-Naga Relationship
  • The concept of Langban Tarpan
  • Today is Sunday :: Poem
  • Papaya and health
  • In tiger territory
  • NEUFC Fan Park at Sarusajai stadium
  • BSE, ANPSA donate to CMRF (Nagaland)
  • 45th AMWJU Foundation day : Gallery
  • Protest crackdown at MU: Gallery
  • Lai Lik Lei & their debut "Esei"
  • Diversity, Race & Gender-Based Violence
  • Cross Border Human Trafficking : Review
  • Imphal Municipal Council Bye Laws, 1998
  • Protest held against crackdown at MU
  • Stop Terrorising the MU Campus
  • Mob violence at Manipur University
  • Facts about Nagaland House at Kolkata
  • Midnight raid at MU
  • ..bridging cultures of Assam, Manipur
  • Tuilha Kol waterfall #2: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Rally against Mob Lynching #2: Gallery
  • Beyond the tragedy of Tharoijam
  • Jarnail's tryst with Manipur :: Review
  • Who killed the looter? (Short Story)
  • Heart OPD & Echo Screening Mission
  • Call for protest against MU crackdown
  • The farce continues at MU
  • Heikru Hidongba #1 : Gallery
  • Heigru Hidongba (Boat Race)
  • Get down to business
  • The Eternal Moment :: Poem
  • Why is oiling good for the hair
  • Jobs at SKY Hospital
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Creating Future Media Leaders in NE
  • Understanding Communist ideology
  • Suspended but drama not over yet
  • Arrested for molesting student in Mumbai
  • Manipuri Diaspora in Myanmar #1
  • Krishna Janma @Mahabali #2 : Gallery
  • Naga-Kuki Conflict: ..Kuki aggression
  • Tibeto-Burman Languages : Book
  • Indian Judiciary no more a caged bird
  • IGAR (S) calls on Governor of Manipur
  • Spirit of Irabot still runs in Journalists
  • Concern should be about mob mentality
  • Tribes, Art & Soul of India #1: Gallery
  • Rally against Mob Lynching #1: Gallery
  • 'Sahnit' an honour or a disgrace
  • Irabot : Socio-Political Challenges
  • Training employees for better governance
  • Blue Ocean :: Poem
  • Sextortion: Making money from shame
  • Condemn murder of Neiphretuo Metsie
  • Social lacunae
  • BJP on poll drive at Imphal, Kohima
  • Mary Kom lost 2 kg in 4 hours
  • Historical Evaluation of Puya Meithaba #2
  • Felicitation of Sportsperson: Gallery
  • ICJ: Investigation of Extrajudicial Killing
  • Legal profession as career option #2
  • Loktak Down Stream HE Project (2x33MW)
  • Protest against mob lynching at DU
  • Ripples of Music :: Poem
  • Memo submitted to CM over lynching
  • Poems of Peace, Resistance ...
  • Helicopter Schedule for Imphal-Jiri
  • Mirabai recommended for Khel Ratna
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #3: Gallery
  • Manipur State is still winning..
  • Gazetteer of North-East India :: Book
  • Sunfeast Cup Football Tournament
  • Trip down memory lane
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Folk Song :: Poem
  • The Endureres at Dwarka Half Marathon
  • Main accused in cop slaying nabbed
  • Naga talks not confined to Nagaland..
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #1 : Gallery
  • Rest in Peace Humanity
  • Ph Banti's artwork 'Trafficking of children'
  • Cry of a Dying River - 45 :: Poem
  • Buddhism is not a religion
  • Jobs at R-Square Design
  • Candle Light at DU over lynching
  • Society as a reflection of govt
  • Mobocracy : Shame on Manipur
  • Kuki Black Day @CCpur : Gallery
  • miAoIbgi pNTuH :: Seireng
  • An opinion on Tharoijam killing
  • How Manipur lost internal autonomy, Kabaw
  • Admission for PhD at Tripura Univ
  • Meefam ST at Nambol, Khangabok
  • Importance of Forest & Environment
  • Deep social divide: Two different folks?
  • Kuki Black Day: Kukis Will never forget
  • R & V Art House's First Art Fest 2018
  • Celebrating International Literacy Day, 2018
  • Born a Kuki, die a Kuki :: Poem
  • History of North East India :: Book
  • Will SimpliciTB make TB treatment simpler
  • Meefam chathaduna ST gi issue..
  • Dipankar Talukdar- Mr Model of World Star
  • System error- who will fix Broken Window
  • Reshuffle Talks : Say No to Yes Me
  • India negotiating vehicle pact with Myanmar
  • Chalwa Village, Kangpokpi #2 : Gallery
  • Thien & its downfall in Zeliangrong #2
  • Is FA a self exposed daylight robbery?
  • Nation Needs Small Farmers
  • Who is programming you ?
  • Bandhs as dissent & survival of laziest
  • Looking for Raju :: Poem
  • The cry of the 2nd class citizen
  • Bharat Bandh in Imphal
  • Historical Evaluation of Puya Meithaba #1
  • Sit-In: Naga Peace Talk #2 : Gallery
  • Naga-Kuki conflict: Search for definitions
  • Mega Marathon Manipur : Download Form
  • Legal profession as career option
  • Guv felicitates 5 JAK RIF for flood relief
  • Stored Anger :: Book Review
  • On stepping into the 20th year of TSE
  • Sept - month which reinstated our courage
  • Krishna Janma @ISKCON #2 : Gallery
  • Empty :: Poem
  • Lets beat littering - plastics pollution
  • NEHU Seminar : Urbanization in India
  • Jobs at JCRE Skill Solutions
  • Declaration of Naga Collective Spirit [Sep 8]
  • Akanba Khongjangidamak Yathokpa Loire
  • Support for STDC from UMA, Assam
  • 'Deplorable power supply in Nagaland'
  • Tryst with destiny - Should we accept ?
  • Stand off at MU : Impact on LS Poll
  • Exploring the enthralling Tuilha Kol
  • Kamesh Salam : Outstanding Green Activist
  • The Valley Of Brahmaputra :: Book
  • Development of road database
  • The inner page story :: Poem
  • Kakching WW-II Memorial Run 2018
  • STDC public meeting at Langathel Keithel
  • Maibi Jagoi at Sangai Fest : Gallery
  • My poll without prejudice to anyone
  • MEETAC - Mission for streamlining TK
  • Conditions leading to Marxism
  • Heart Camp at Khelakhong, Thoubal
  • Cyber bully: Crime that follows you home
  • Bhupen Hazarika : Tribute at London
  • AEP & Importance of Myanmar & NE
  • Political pandemonium
  • Students central to MU issue
  • Landscape from Koubru #2 : Gallery
  • Leishangthem Robert for Mr. World 2018
  • Oinam Shilla Chanu at Mrs India Earth
  • North-east Frontier Of India :: Book
  • Thien & its downfall in Zeliangrong #1
  • Cry of a Dying River - 44 :: Poem
  • JRF Post at Mizoram University
  • Honours to Bamboo; a ubiquitous gift
  • Case of hunter now being huntedr
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #3 : Gallery
  • Women Empowerment & judicial Activism
  • Narin Chenggum - wild edible mushroom
  • Flying Star at your lips :: Poem
  • Out of the box thinking
  • Call centre fraud: Vicious vishing attack
  • Changing India & its impact on Manipur
  • MU stand off gets uglier
  • Tikendrajit : The Lion of Manipur #4
  • Krishna Janma @Mahabali #1 : Gallery
  • Eastern Frontier of India :: Book Review
  • Remembering Radhakrishnan ..
  • Moments to cherish :: Poem
  • Glimpse of the Buddha's teaching
  • NH7 Weekender Express Editions
  • Rejoinder to NDPP from NPF [05 Sep]
  • Mental equation
  • Are teachers teaching ? Apt, timely poser
  • Sirarakhong Hathei Phanit @Ukhrul : Gallery
  • Sit-In: Naga Peace Talk #1 : Gallery
  • Globalization, Act East Policy & Manipur
  • Review on anthology of Parthajit Borah
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Child Friendly Police Stations proposed
  • ADBU Goes Green with Solar Energy
  • Convocation of Assam Don Bosco
  • Fetal Echocardiography - Seminar held
  • Rejoinder to NPF from NDPP [04 Sep]
  • Divide, divert and rule will not work
  • FA, MU crisis : Issues before LS polls
  • Krishna Janma @ISKCON #1 : Gallery
  • Komrem Student Day @Bangalore : Gallery
  • September Calendar for Year 2018 :: Tools
  • The Coils of Pakhangba :: Book
  • Exhibition @ Art College #2: Gallery
  • AMWJU Sit-In-Protest : Gallery
  • Jangou Rah : eRang Classic
  • The Story of 40 Pineapple Suckers
  • Yumkhaibam Nanao Eramdam Yaourakhre
  • Ningol Chakkouba Celebration in Delhi
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #2: Gallery
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #2 : Gallery
  • The World of Kuki People :: Book
  • Martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang #1: Gallery
  • Dolaithabi Dam , Senapati : Gallery
  • Eid-Ul-Adhaa Festival #2 : Gallery
  • Dr. Jodhachandra Sanasam : Sahitya
  • Shougrakpam Bijaya :: A Profile
  • Disputed Myanmar Border Pillar : Gallery
  • Dzuko valley #4 :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manglandasu Nang - OST :: e-pao Radio
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • SPONSORED ADS