Darkest Era of Meiteis
03 May 2023

Dr. Ibethoi Yengkhom *

It is painful and shocking to see the sufferings of the Meiteis in particular and people of Manipur in general for last nearly four months in the hands of kuki militants. As per information available about 250 people have lost their lives and about 2,500 houses have been burnt/destroyed and about 50,000 people are in various relief camps located at different places.

Over the last many years, more particularly after 1967 Army Operation in Myanmar, many Kuki militants have infiltrated to Manipur and settled in reserved forest and protected forest areas. Though it is illegal, the Government was not seriously acting against these illegal encroachment/settlement.

The encroachers started plantation of poppy (by clearing forest) drug trafficking etc. The present Government of Manipur started acting against these illegal activities and altogether poppy plantations/plants in about 20,000 acres have been reportedly destroyed.

Since it directly affects the interest of these Kuki illegal immigrants ,they started objecting the activities of the Manipur Government in the last few months. On 27th April the Forest Range Office in Churchandpur was torched and Open Gym which was to be inaugurated by Hon'ble Chief Minister of Manipur was vandalised. On 3rd May a mass rally involving armed Kuki militants was organised in Churchandpur.

It was a day of the visit of Vice President of India to Imphal, Manipur. Afterwards the burning of the houses of the Meiteis/Meitei Hindus/Meitei Christians settled in Churchandpur started and more than 10,000 Meiteis left Churachandpur for their survival. Then the Meiteis retaliated. This is how present problem started.

About 35 tribes/groups broughtly divided into Meiteis/Meiteis Hindus/Meitei christians, the Nagas/Christian Nagas and Kuki Christians are settled in Manipur. There are some other minor groups like Muslims/Meitei pangals, Marwaries, Jains, Biharis, nepalis etc. which form very small groups. Manipur is bounded by the the Indian states of Nagaland to the north,Mizoram to the south and Assam to the west.

It also borders two regions of Myanmar, Sagaing region to the east and Chin state to the south. The state covers an area of 22,327 sq km.The valley is about 57.9 km from north to south and 32.1 km from east to west at its broadest.The area of the valley is only 1864.44 sq km.

Manipur has a total population of around 28,55,794 as per 2011 census.Meiteis/Meiteis Hindus and some other tribes(approx. 60%) mostly settled in the Valley areas which constitute less than 10% of the total geographical area of the State.

The Nagas and Kukis who are mostly Christian settled in the hill areas . Manipur is hill state ,and tragically meiteis who constitutes 56% of the total population are not allowed to buy land in hill areas(371 C of indian constitution.For instance,as per the existing law.Non tribals including the meiteis can not purchase land in the hills).

However All About 35 tribes/groups eg. Meiteis/Meiteis Hindus/Meitei christians, the Nagas/Christian Nagas and Kuki Christian are allowed to buy and get settled in the valley, there are many colonies/areas where Nagas, Kukis and other tribes are settled. It is only because of the Meiteis who constitute about 56% of the total population that Manipur continues to be a Hindu dominated State. When the Meiteis and Nagas are consider as the indigenous peoples the rest may be considered as immigrants.

The Kukis are wandering race consisting of several tribes (Ref. "Manipur and Naga Hills" page 45 by British Political Agent Sir James Johnstone). The Kukis are strictly monarchical and their Chiefs are supreme. Their original home cannot be correctly ascertained, but there seem to be traces of them as far south as the Malay Peninsula.

Th. Lewin mentioned that in his book "Wild Race of The Eastern Frontier of India" page 83 that the origin of the tribes is a doubtful point. Captain Pemberton ascribes to them a Malay descent and the same book mentioned at page 159 that Chukma tribes came originally from a country called Chainpango or Champanungger. As to where this country is situated accounts vary somewhat. By some it is said to be near Malaca; this would ascribe to a Malay origin. The death ceremony of Malay Peninsula and the Kukis are equal.

According to "Linguistic Surveys of India Vol. 3. Part 3, Page 3, Edited by G.A. Geirson mentioned that Chin and Kukis are synonymous and the word "Chin" is given to the Kukis by the Burmese.

According to Capt. E.W. Dun, in his book "Gazetteer of Manipur" from page 69 to 233 mentioned that 77 Kuki bonafide refugee village in Manipur till 1886. And the same book mentioned from page 69 to 233 that correct number of Kukis were never more than 6088 in the year 1881.As per census conducted by the british government in 1881,kukis constituted only 7% of the total population of Manipur.Today they constitute 20% of the total population of Manipur.

According to Sir James Johnstone, the Kukis mostly started arriving in Manipur between 1830 - 1840. The new immigrants began to cause imbalance among other tribes about the year 1845, and soon poured into the hill tracts of Manipur in huge numbers, as to drive away many of the older inhabitants. Fortunately, the political agent (Lieutenant afterwards Colonel McCulloch) was a man well able to cope with the situation.

From the records it is seen that population of Kukis were increasing much faster than the other groups. While Manipur merged with India Union in 1949 there were only about 250 Kukis villages, but now it has increase to 3,000. To site another example, the population of Chandel District (now bifurcated into Chandel and Tengnoupal Districts) had a decadal population growth of 66% between 1991 to 2001.Recently in the 3rd week of july 2023 about 718 kukis from Myanmar have illegally entered to chandel district of Manipur as reported by Assam Rifles and GOI.

There are about 15 lakhs Kukis in the north western part of Myanmar/Burma. They have been fighting there for establishing a Kuki Home Land or Kuki dominated country. The Government of Revolutionary Council headed by General Ne Wim, in 1967, severely punished about 20,000 (twenty thousand) Kuki people under U. Muang's "KHADAWN OPERATION" for holding Kuki bogus National Registration and family registration cards, such incidents resultantly compelled many Kukis to migrate in Manipur which is part of economically much developed India than Burma.

Again in period 1972-1975 because of the Army Coup and political turmoil in Myanmar (earlier Burma) a large number of Kukis infiltrated to Manipur, India. Again in 2021 the Myanmar Government fell in the hand of Army and heavy cracked down/operation against these Kuki rebellions/militants started. It is estimated that between 2021 to 2023 alone more than 22,000 (twenty two thousand) armed Kuki militants have entered Manipur.

Further, it has been reported (as per India Today) that recently 03(three) trucks loaded with sophisticated weapons from China/Myanmar border has arrived and landed in the hands of Kuki militants operating in Manipur. It may be noted that Assam Rifle is the in-charge of protection/guarding of the Indo-Myanmar border. Therefore, it has become questionable for many how transportation of truck loads of illegal weapons for such long route from China- Myanmar border to Churachandpur District, Manipur has been made possible without the support of those protecting the border.

When these Kuki militants could not face the action of Myanmar Army Junta they started migrating to Manipur. Now, when they fail to create a Kuki Home Land in Myanmar they are trying to create a Kuki Home Land in Manipur State with the objective of creating Kuki country consisting of parts of Myanmar ,Bangladesh and north eastern region of India where they have already settled and targets to capture more land from the indegeneous people. It would be impossible for indigenous people of Manipur to allow creating a Home Land to these immigrant Kuki refugees.

It may be noted that the standing Order of President Manipur State Darbar issued by T.A. Sharp in his order reads "Kukis in the Naga Areas in Manipur are Aliens and Refugees".It is therefore necessary to implement NRC (national registration of citizens) based on 1951 census or 1952 general election voter list and detect illegal immigrants and deport them or if cannot be deported then to give them refugee status.Any appeasement to these Kukis or to any other militants groups may simply invite greater trouble for the state of Manipur in particular and for North East in general.

Therefore, earnestly requesting all the citizens of INDIA to kindly intervene into the matter and stop all these unfortunate activities so that peace and peaceful co-existent is brought to the Manipur and injustice and killings done to the meiteis.It is fully necessary to come down heavily on all those armed militants.

The people of Manipur deserve to get a “normal life”free from bandhs, national highway blockades(causing price hike ). Today the world is based on internet, internet has been cut off for almost 4 months till date leading to so many missed opportunities among students , people whose livelihood are based on social media.

The protection of boundary (about 350 Kms.) between Myanmar and Manipur(India) is assigned to Assam Rifle. We are confused to understand that why GOI and Assam rifle has a soft attitude towards these Kuki migrant rebellions in Manipur who are openly into poppy drugs and wanted to create a Kuki country on the soil of Manipur India.

o Manipur land revenue and land reforms Act must be amended to allow every Manipuri to settle anywhere in Manipur since Meiteis cannot buy land in the hills ,where the hill constitute 90% of the state.

o Today Manipur needs the support from each Indian.

o We request GOI to end this dark era in Manipur.

* Dr. Ibethoi Yengkhom wrote this article for
This article was webcasted on 09 September 2023.

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