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A prominent assembly of 20 Naga tribes sparked a discussion on heritage on August 21 by rebuking the Kuki-Zo community for allegedly altering the history of Manipur.
The United Naga Council (UNC) asserted that the Kuki-Zo people do not possess any land within Manipur and that the name of their community emerged when the British “placed” them in the Naga hills between 1830 and 1840.
During British rule, Manipur underwent numerous unwelcome changes, and the UNC pointed out that one of the lingering challenges from that era was the “planting” of the Kuki tribe.
According to the Naga body, the British utilized the Kukis as a “mercenary tribe” due to their lack of territorial ties, leveraging this detachment to suppress the native communities of Manipur.
Both the majority Meitei group, engaged in an ethnic dispute with the Kukis since May 3, and the Nagas consider themselves indigenous, viewing the Kuki-Zo group as primarily “illegal immigrants” from Myanmar.
“The UNC aims to correct the record, highlighting that the recent overt effort by Kukis to distort the history of the Kuki rebellion of 1917-1919, labeling it the Anglo-Kuki War to validate their envisioned Kuki homeland within the Naga ancestral territory, is a prime example of their habitual falsehoods,” noted the UNC in a statement by James Hau.
The Naga council mentioned that the Kuki rebellion involved brutal acts such as killing, arson, looting, and the enslavement of women and children from the indigenous Naga population in present-day Ukhrul, Chandel, and Tamenglong districts of Manipur.
They clarified, “Thus, it wasn’t a war but rather a rebellion against colonial power, as there’s no historical evidence of the Anglo-Kuki War in India’s history.”
Challenging a “Bogus Territorial Claim”
The UNC also expressed astonishment at the “blatant falsehoods, biased history, and fabricated data” present in each statement and memo from the Kuki-Zo community, seeing this as a distortion of Naga history and an affront to the Nagas.
The UNC opposed the Kuki-Zo community’s request for separate governance, involving the creation of two new districts carved out of Senapati and Chandel districts (Kangpokpi and Tengnoupal). They regarded these new districts as a result of a past Congress government’s attempt to placate various groups.
The UNC criticized the Kuki-Zo’s representation to various international bodies, asserting that it was based on erroneous territorial claims. They emphasized that the name “Kuki” was first used in the context of Manipur between 1830 and 1840, rendering the mention of “Kuki hills” in the Prime Minister of Israel’s memo fictitious.
Regarding the memorandum submitted by 10 Kuki MLAs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding high-ranking administrative positions in Kuki-Zo areas, the UNC viewed it as a disguised call for separate governance.
The UNC claimed that Manipur was grappling with an influx of undocumented immigrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, leading to the expansion of villages and the rapid construction of new settlements.
They cautioned, “Illicit encampments are sprouting up at an alarming rate near Moreh town and its environs, aiding the influx of Kukis from Myanmar. If the Indian and Manipuri governments fail to halt this flow of illegal immigrants, it won’t be long before the native population becomes a minority.”