RK Rajendra's Manipur after the coming of Kukis

Salam Rupachandra Singh *

The booklet is authored by the late RK Rajendra, Lieutenant Colonel (Retd.) and former Member, Manipur Human Rights Commission. The book is translated into Manipuri/ Meiteilon by Thangjam Ranjit Meetei. During interactions, the author used to talk about the influx of Kukis to Manipur but we hardly paid heed to it. The book is published by Federation of Haomee vesting its copyright to it. The English edition was made in the year 2022 and price of the book is Rs. 100/-.

The author breathed his last on the 23rd day of May, 2023 after the outbreak of the May 3 clash between the Meiteis and the Kukis. The book is equipped with facts and figures, references from British authors, Kuki writers, and Manipuri historians etc.

The author being the Convener of Core Committee of Federation of Haomee, he describes Haomee as all the people of Manipur, the Meiteis, Nagas having the Yeksalaichas (Clans) who have their own Identity, History and Land. Still the Government of Manipur and Ministry of Education never think of learning the history of Manipur, he laments. The book tells about the Kukis and the situation of Manipur after their coming and the author presents his book in the following way.

The Kukis themselves have claimed that they had been once in the Khongsai village of Burma and as such they are also known by the name Khongsai. Due to their coming to Manipur in more than one go, they are termed as Old Kuki and New Kuki referring to the expression of Shakespeare (1912), the British Commissioner by the Kuki writer TS Gangte in his book “The Kukis of Manipur” (page 55). The Manipuri historian RK Jhalajit Singh, Padmashree, opines that during the reign of Maharaja Nara Singh (1844-50), the Kukis entered Manipur and it is called as the era of coming of the Kukis in Manipur.

The mode of entries of Kukis was to the unadministered areas or far flung border places. According to Major General, Sir James Johnstone, the Kukis are a nomadic tribe who are laborious, comprising of many different tribes once living in the extreme South Asian region. It was for the first time in Manipur, Kukis were known in between 1830-1840.

The author tries to demonstrate who are the Kukis and where is their origin by citing references. It appears that they had been once in the extreme South Asian region ie, Malay Peninsula but their originality is not ascertained. According to TH Lewin (1870-1930), they lived in interior hill areas, not used firearms and did not wear clothes. The place as per geographied history, is known as Wild Tribe. These people are the lost Tribe of Hebrews as claimed by the Kukis.

According to Col. Dalton (1872-1944), the British Commissioner, the word Kuki was found for the first time in the Asiatic Researcher Journal. Volume VII, 1799. Similarly, Hutton, (1928-34) too expresses that the origin of the word Kuki is not known, however, it was first found in the Asiatic Researcher Journal, Vol-11, Bengal 1962.

As they had been driven towards the North, they started settling in the unadministered part of the hilly areas or far flung border areas of Tripura, Manipur and Cachar. It is said that they had been involved in the work of porters and as such the Kuki is the corrupt word of Coolie.

The author says that Rohingyas who take Bangladesh as their fatherland and Myanmar as Motherland sheltering in the North East India are very close to the Kukis. Many of them have some business of secret or open. About 5/6 lakh of the population of 40 to 50 lakh of Rohingyas, have already settled in the North East India.

It is the question of the writer that can the refugees or the immigrants from other country claim the status of indigenous people by citing instances i.e. apart from Adhivasis, the Aryans, Caucasians, Greeks, Italians and Englishmen lived in India for long , without talking or claiming for indigenous status, did they claim as the citizens of India ?

How the Kukis as belonging to Mongoloid group claim the same ? Can we take the Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, and Indonesians etc. belonging to Mongoloid as indigenous people of Manipur ? They are needed to be separated from indigenous group, reduced in status and restricted from' the equal rights of citizenship.

The rebellion of Kukis, 3917-19 can never be taken as the war of independence mentioning the underlying meaning of war. It is just like a storm or typhoon in a teapot. Declaring a war needs a country against another country. The wandering group settling in the unadministered or far border areas, had the Kukis ever declared any war ? Can the Gypsy/Romans, wandering group declare war against the Europeans ?

The wandering tribes in between India and Pakistan ie the Bakawal (Gujars and Ahirs), can they declare war against India and Pakistan? The writer suggests some names for the said rebellion as:-
a. Massacre of people of Manipur by nomadic immigrants 1917-19.
b. Result of the nomadic Kuki Immigrants 1917-19.
c. Opportunist immigrant Kuki rebellion 1917-19.
d. Rebellion of opportunist Kuki immigrants 1917-19.
e. No proper punitive action against Kukis 1917-19.

This is a big lie and an example of cheat. Some episodes of Sepoy Mutiny wherein the activities of the Kukis are also depicted. They (the Kukis) pledged to Indian sepoys to fight enemy whomsoever including the Englishmen and as such they were allowed to enter the Fort of the mutiny.

They have been once used as protecting force by the Rajah of Cachar and the British as Kuki Levies/Militia to prevent from the hostility of the Angami Nagas. The leader of the Kuki Levies/Militia was one Mangjahu Kuki of Khongdosei Village.

However, instead of helping the Indian Sepoys, they killed them all, collected their weapons and handed it over to the British with an idea to employ more of them in the North East and to get more weapons from the British. Even they had been deployed in Manipur at the present Sadar Hill which is the fraudulent name given by a Kuki officer.

The Kuki Militia ran away after it is disbanded. According to Alexander Mackenzei in his “North East Frontier”, page 148, a shameful story runs as:- ...“ but I noticed that the Thadou historians do not seem to know of the reasons for the abandonment of this Militia, or should I say that they prefer not to remember it”.

At page 46 of Notes on the Thadou Kukis by William Shaw, another story goes like this “Sambhudhan, the leader of their insane and murderous revolt had not been arrested.............hence our police are practically helpless when following up offenders whom the people desire to screen”.

There was no prior information of likelihood of Cachar rising, they (the Kukis) were useless. They were first to run away at Gunjoug and the lone Kuki sentry at Maibong also left the post. Thus, they had been disowned by the order of the Chief Commissioner. Such stories, the Kuki historians do not like to remember instead, they fabricated the Kuki war of Independence 1917-19, the author opines.

The Chiefs of Chassad, Nehlam Kuki, and of Songohal Village, Soya etc. had been executed by the Manipur King for their treacherous acts. The Kukis do not want a wandering immigrant life as it is not of a civilized human beings.

PS Haokip claims that there is not even an enclave of the Kukis either in Myanmar or India though warranted for. He expresses in the Zalen-Gam, the Kuki Nation, page 22-23, an independent land of Kukis is ought to be in India or Burma, but, such concept has been elusive in both the countries.

The author as the Convener of the Core Committee of Federation of Haomee points out-The Kukis in the absence of their own land/nation, there shall be no stoppage of violence and peace and tranquility will be far away.

The land as demanded by them is already earmarked for others. Citing this, the author poses a question that why India Government is not willing to earmark Kuki Homeland in States like Bihar, Punjab or Haryana where vast mass of land exists. If not, tell them to go to Israel as they are the lost tribe of Hebrews as claimed by themselves.

Instead of fighting with the Haomees, the Kukis can live as citizens of India subject to the cut of date as 1951. Something is better than nothing. He predicts that if the Government of India cannot stop the increasing influx of foreigner Kukis in the land, it is nothing but encouraging ethnic clash. There is no one in the State to convince this problem to the India Government.

The writer scales the increasing influx of Kukis by citing references. One article in Imphal Free Press in September, 2015 that the number of Kuki Villages at the time of Maharaja Budhachandra (1946-47) is 250.

The author did not like to dispute the same but states that it is inclusive of the 174 Kuki Villages in Churachandpur. The same was declared by Maharaja Budhachandra on October 18, 1948 in Manipur Darbar. Now the number of villages is more than 1600.

In this small book, the writer also pens the episodes of destruction of Naga Village in Shillong by the Kukis, the fabrication of documents and the trial of Kuki rebels etc. with his own view and appeals to the Government of India.

He shows anger against the distortion of history by using the words in the form of Thangting for Thangjing, Shongtongbung for Koubru, Kangamlen for Loktak, Tongthingmang for Taothingmang, claiming Pakhangba’s mother as Kuki and Shiva a Kuki Missionary in the book “Zalen-Gam”.

As an indicator, the writer forecasts the current crisis in Manipur in his book. He takes references of British, Kuki and Manipur writers in shaping the book so as to self defend any of the controversies and authenticity of the book that may come up. Though small, the book gives a lot on Kukis and Manipur after their coming.

* Salam Rupachandra Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on 11 July 2023.

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