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EXCLUSIVE ‘NAGA INHABITED AREA’ – NON-EXISTENT

 

- Dr. T.S. Gangte

INTRODUCTION:

It is said, “search, ye shall find it. Thus, I search and search and re-search over and again. But I could not find as to where was the place called exclusively ‘Naga inhabited area’. Instead, I stumbled and fell on an Anthropologist- Administrator, Prof. Hudson, T.C., (1911 : p.9 : The Naga Tribes of Manipur) who told me that there was no such thing as I was looking for and said,

“… tradition affords link which makes the Nagas, Kukis and Manipuris descended from a common ancestor, who had three sons who became the progenitors of those tribes. The tradition, which is widely spread, agrees in its many versions in assigning the primacy of descend to the Kukis, the next place being given to the Nagas, while the Manipuris are said to be the children of the youngest of the three brothers”.

I found it difficult to believe in the said tradition or allegory with full conviction. And so, I continued my search, and as I continued to do so, I once again came across another eminent scholar-administrator called Hutton, J.H. (1928 : p.1 : Introduction to the work of William Shaw in The Thadou Kukis) who said that there was no such area as exclusive to any tribe. Having said this, Hutton contended that Maharajah of Manipur did not take interest in hill areas and its people except that of his method of control by periodical massacres to extract forcibly tributes. The Kuki Chiefs ‘ruled the roost’ in the hills as allies of the Maharajah of Manipur till outbreak of Anglo-Kuki-War, 1917-1919, when the two parted ways which prompted Hutton to say,

“Before the Kuki (War) of 1917-19 the administration in the hill areas of the Manipur State was not very close, and the Kukis, ruled as they were b y their own well-recognised Chiefs, and treated as they had been in the past at any rate, by the Manipur State as allies … managed their own affairs in their own way …”

 

 

We may recall herein Robert Reid, Sir, (1942 : p.88 : History of the Frontier Areas Bordering On Assam – 1883-1941) who said that even after the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891, there was no proper administration of the Hill tribes and no proper provision for them in the budget … Neglect of their interests and lack of touch between them and the administration came to a head in the Kuki Rebellion of 1918. He further contended that –

With the suppression of the Kukis in 1919 the confiscation of all guns and the punishment of several of the leading Chiefs, an era of much closer administration set in, and the Kukis have had to put up with a great deal of administrative interferences (with the opening of first ever Sub-Divisional Headquarters at Ukhrul, Tamenglong and Churachandpur mainly to check-mate recurrence of Kuki uprising).

And so, the entire hill areas and tribal ethnic groups living therein, along with Meiteis in the valley were for the first time under a new system of modern administration, thereby establishing a permanent boundary called “territory of Manipur” which exists till date. The then Governor of Assam, thus had to say,

“… The State of Manipur consists of a Central valley some 700 square miles in areas, surrounded by 8000 square miles in the hills.”

This is what Manipur today is. Yet, unable to locate, if at all exists, a placed called “Naga inhabited areas” exclusively. I continued my quest for the same till the dawn of independence in India in 1947. With it came the expediency of re-structuring administrative set-up decentralizing administrative machinery further into interior hills by a Regulation:

 

THE MANIPUR STATE HILL PEOPLES (Administration) REGULATION, 1947


Table – 1

NUMBER OF VILLAGES AND TRIBAL ETHNIC GROUPS UNDER THE REGULATION

Sl. No.

Name of Circle

No. of Circles

Name of Tribe & No. of villages

Ethnic tribes

Kukis

Others

Total

I.

Sadar Circles :

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a) Sadar Circle No.1 (Central)

3(three) circles

1.           Kabui – 50

2.     Tangkhul – 11

3.   Kacha Naga - 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

65

68

42

175

 

(b) Sadar Circle No.2 (Mao Circle)

 

Mao – 56

27

Nil

83

 

(c) Sadar Circle No.3 (New Churachandpur)

 

Nil - -

149

25

174

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II.

Ukhrul Circles :

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a) Ukhrul Circle No.1 (Ukhrul)

 

Tangkhul – 79

29

Nil

108

 

(b) Ukhrul Circle No.2 Ukhrul East Sub-Divn. (Phaisat Circle)

3(three) circles

Tangkhul – 39

30

1

70

 

(c) Ukhrul Circle No.3 (Tengnoupal & Mombi)

 

Nil

135

21

164

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

III.

Tamenglong Circles :

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a) Tamenglong Circle No.1 (Headquarters)

 

Kabui – 60

53

2

115

 

(b) Tamenglong Circle No.2 (North Circle) West Sub-Divn.

3(three) circles

1.       Liangmei – 50

2.             Zemei – 9

3.            Kabui - 14

 

 

 

 

 

 

60

58

2

120

 

(c) Tamenglong Circle No.3 (Southern Circle)

 

Nil

62

Nil

62

 

 

Total :

359

611

103

1073

 

A brief analysis of the above table shows the following highlights –

(i) that while the term Kuki was used consistently in all the circles to distinguish their villages from other ethnic groups, the term NAGA was not used whatever except in the Tamenglong Circles No.1 and 2 to denote tribal groups, sucyh as, Liangmei, Zemei Kabui and Kacha-Naga to show that each of them was distinct from the others.

(ii) that villages belonging to the Kukis and other ethnic tribes are mixed-up so closely in physical proximity that a good number of such villages bear the same name. To mention a few of them, such as, are –

           

1.      Kharasom Tangkhul & Kuki

2.      Khayang Kuki & Tangkhul

3.      Kashung Kuki & Tangkhul

4.      Kachai Tangkhul & Kuki

5.      Tera Tangkhul & Kuki

6.      Chingjaroi Tangkhul & Kuki

7.      Leishen Kuki & Tangkhul

8.      Khongban Tangkhul & Kuki

9.      Nongtam Kuki & Tangkhul

10.  Phalang Kuki & Tangkhul

11.  Nongnou Kuki & Tangkhul

12.  Laimanai Kuki & Kabui

13.  Nungadang Kuki & Kabui

14.  Gaidimjang Kabnui & Kuki

15.  Kaimai Kuki & Kabui

16.  Sempat Kuki & Kabui,

17.  Chingmei Kabui & Kuki,

18.  Satudai Kabui & Kuki;

(iii) that while Kukis are wide-spread in all the nine Circles the Nagas are found only in six Circles : and

(iv) that the total number of villages in the entire hill areas are as follows :

Table – 2

1.

Sadar Circles :

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a) Naga -

121

(b) Kuki -

244

(c) Others -

67

=

432

2.

Ukhrul Circles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a) Naga -

118

(b) Kuki -

194

(c) Others -

32

=

344

3.

Tamenglong Circles

 

 

 

 

 

 

(a) Naga -

120

(b) Kuki -

173

(c) Others -

4

=

297

 

Grand Total:

359

 

611

 

103

 

1037

 

When the people of India gave themselves Constitution of India with the status of a Republic on the 26th January, 1950 the above Regulation, 1947 stood abrogated, with it, changes took place. Yet, the above equation of villages remain more or less intact and stable, if not radically disturbed, but for population growth and increase in number of villages.

From what had briefly been described above, it emanates favourable atmosphere for continued peace and communal harmony among different tribal ethnic groups in the hill areas. The situation in the villages only suggests inevitability of strengthening their mutual interest. It also highlights their inter-dependence on each other in all spheres of their life.

In their juxtaposed habitats between the Kukis on the one hand and the various tribal ethnic groups on the other particularly with Tangkhuls and Kabuis, there is no room whatever to draw a line of demarcation called ‘Naga inhabited area’. Their habitats are so intertwined that one area overlaps the other to be termed as Naga or Kuki inhabited area. The names of some Kuki villages which are common with that of Tangkhuls and Kabuis are signs of communal harmony and peaceful co-existence as are enough to demonstrate overlapping physical proximity. If the so-called ‘Naga inhabited area’ is insisted when no such location ever exists it is obviously indicative of attempted creation of communal tension and hostility between the Nagas and the Kukis with an ultimate design to disintegrate territorial integrity of Manipur. ‘Divide and rule’ policy is made manifest.

Given the opportunity to take the natural course of human relationship on its own initiative and volition, there is no reason to antagonize and destabilize peace-foundation that had been laid on mutual trust, respect and solidarity expressed in terms of peace, love, equality and friendship. It was the growth of global phenomenon which sowed the seed of ethnicity that had grown into huge stature out of proportion the branches of which spread wherever eyes could see that had poisoned the minds of all concerned, particularly so with ethnic minorities all over the world. Caught in the flame of search for separate ethnic identity which propagates ‘Nationalism’ of all kinds, the spirit of ‘Naga Nationalism’ came alive for realization of political aspiration with assertion of ‘Self-determination’ as their human Rights. In this connection it may be stated that prior to development of ‘Naga Polity’ as of today, there was no Naga as a common ethnic identity as is now so staunchly embraced. Despite extreme diversity among themselves, particularly so in language, customs, tradition, hatchet inter-tribal rivalry, etc., the Nagas could burry such differences as secondary and purpose of their unity as more basic and paramount. This is one spectacular phenomenon of “Naga Nationalism” for which they deserve admiratic and appreciation, but for the land-grab scheme of the NSCN(IM) in the guise of “Naga Inhabited area” which is non-existent as could be well appreciated from the preceding paragraphs.

According to the Census of India, 2001 as un-officially projected by the All Manipur College Teachers Association for the purpose of academic exercise, the total population of Manipur is 23,88,638 as appeared in the local dailies on the 16th July, 2001. The total population is divided into categories as detailed below :

1.       

Meitei Hindus

-

1361521

2.       

Meitei Pangal

-

167204

3.       

29 Scheduled tribes

-

713813

4.       

Unspecified Tribes *

-

75768

5.       

Other Communities **

-

146016

 

Table – 3

Detailed tribe-wise populations are as given below (Census, 2001):

Sl.No.

Name of tribe

No. of population

 

Sl.No.

Name of tribe

No. of population

1.       

Aimol

2643

 

16.   

Mizo (any Lushai)

10520

2.       

Anal

13853

 

17.   

Monsang

1635

3.       

Angami

650

 

18.   

Mayon

1710

4.       

Chiru

5487

 

19.   

Paite

44861

5.       

Chothe

2675

 

20.   

Purum

503

6.       

Gangte

15100

 

21.   

Ralte

110

7.       

Hman

42690

 

22.   

Sema

25

8.       

Kabui

62216

 

23.   

Simte

7150

9.       

Kacha Naga

20328

 

24.   

Suhte

311

10.   

Koirao

1200

 

25.   

Tangkhul

112988

11.   

Koireng

1056

 

26.   

Thadou

115045

12.   

Kom

15467

 

27.   

Vaiphei

27791

13.   

Lamkang

4524

 

28.   

Zo

19112

14.   

Mao

80568

 

29.   

Maring

17361

15.   

Maram

10510

 

 

 

 

Notes :-

*          There are a good number of tribes who are not scheduled listed, particularly among the Thadou-Kuki speaking ethnic groups. They are therefore, categorized as unspecified tribes, such as, Lunkim, Changsan, Lamhao, Lenthang, Misao, Lupheng, Lupho, Baite, Touthang, Mate, Doungel, some Gangtes claiming direct-Mizo who are not Lushai either, Chongloi, Hangshing and Thangeo.

**        Certain communities who are not either Meitei Hindus or Meitei Pangal, or ethnic tribes. They are, Punjabi, Bihari, Tamilian, Nepali, Marwari, etc. They are categorized as Other Communities.

It is also to be noted that except Kacha-Naga and KUKI could be found in the above list of tribes. These are the two conventional terminologies used as ‘generic terms’ to denote certain tribal groups, clubbed together in consideration of their close affinity among themselves in respect of culture, tradition, customs, beliefs and rites, manners and term of Government, etc. for many generations together.

Despite the fact that there is no Naga tribe or Kuki tribe in the list shown above, these two terminologies are conventionally used for certain ethnic groups to distinguish one from the other. Accordingly, we may divide them into Naga and Kuki on the basis of scientific studies made by experts and  anthropologists. Lieutenant Colonel J. Shakespear (1912, pp.133-186 : The Lushai Kuki Clans Part I, II) called the following ethnic groups as Kukis :-

1.              Aimol.

2.              Anal.

3.              Chiru.

4.              Chothe.

5.              Gangte,

6.              Hmar.

7.              Koirao

8.              Koireng,

9.              Kom,

10.          Lamkang,

11.          Mizo (Lushai),

12.          Monsang,

13.          Mayon,

14.          Paite.

15.          Purum,

16.          Ralte,

17.          Sukte,

18.          Thadou,

19.          Vaiphei,

20.          Maring and

many more other s numbering thirty-four in all.

But in Mizoram, the people preferred to call themselves as Mizo since the Lushai Expeditions, 1871-72 and accordingly, the Mizo Union in their Memorandum submitted to the Crown of England in 1947 urged the British India Government to recognize the term MIZO in place of KUKI, the people signified by the term Kuki remaining the same. Likewise, some ethnic groups who were hitherto been called KUKI preferred to be called Chin and Khul(r) for reasons best known to themselves. While such was the ground situation, when Prof. J.K.Pose (1980) along with a team of researchers made detailed study of the said people concerned reiterated that those ethnic groups who were termed as Kukis by earlier Anthropologists shall remain to be called so as could be seen from his book ‘Glimpses of Tribal Life in North-East India’, in regard to their study on the practices of Liverate and Cross-Cousin marriages (pp.53-61 and 75-83). In this connection it may be recalled that Prof. Kabui, Gangmumei (1985 : p.50 : The Anals : A Transborder Tribe of Manipur) contended that –

“No tribe in Manipur has faced the problem of identity as the Anals. The situation in which they are now put into may have been caused by the natural desire of a minority to have an identification in community status, political aspiration with one major group or the other. The Anals and smaller groups, like Mayon, Monsang, Lamkang and Tarao … naturally produce constraint on their group identity … in relation to the bigger neighbours, Nagas or the Kuki-Chins”.

In consideration of the above facts, the 29 Scheduled listed tribes may be divided under different groupings as shown below for clear understanding of them in their respective right perspectives :

Table – 4

GROUPINGS OF 29 SCHEDULED TRIBES OF MANIPUR AS PER PROJECTED (Unofficial) CENSUS OPERATION OF INDIA, 2001

A. NAGA TRIBES.

 

B. CHIN-KUKI-MIZO (CHIKIM) TRIBES

 

1.       Angami

-

650

 

 

1.       Gangte

-

15,100

 

2.       Kabui

-

62216

 

 

2.       Hmar

-

42,690

 

3.       Kacha Naga

-

20,328

 

 

3.       Mizo (Lushai)

-

10,520

 

4.       Mao

-

80,568

 

 

4.       Paite

-

44,861

 

5.       Maram

-

10,510

 

 

5.       Purum

-

503

 

6.       Sema

-

25

 

 

6.       Ralte

-

110

 

7.       Tangkhul

-

1,12,944

 

 

7.       Simte

-

7,150

 

TOTAL

 

2,87,241

 

 

8.       Sukte

-

311

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.       Thadou

-

1,15,045

 

 

 

 

 

 

10.    Vaiphei

-

27,791

 

 

 

 

 

 

11.    Zo

-

19,112

 

 

 

 

 

 

12.    *Unspecified tribes

-

75,768

 

 

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

 

3,58,961

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C. OLD KUKI TRIBES.

 

B. OLD KUKI (Khul(r))

 

1.      Aimol

-

2,643

 

 

1.       Anal

-

13,853

 

2.      Chiru

-

5,487

 

 

2.       Monsang

-

1,635

 

3.      Chothe

-

2,675

 

 

3.       Mayon

-

1,710

 

4.      Koirao

-

1,200

 

 

4.       Maring

-

17,361

 

5.      Koireng

-

1,056

 

 

TOTAL

 

34,559

 

6.      Kom

-

15,467

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.      Lamkang

-

4,524

 

 

Grand Total of A,B,C & D is 7,13,813 tribal population as per Census enumeration of 2001

 

TOTAL

 

33,052

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-

Note: * There are many ethnic groups of Thadou-Kuki speaking people who have not been scheduled Listed among the 29 tribes but were listed above. Such groups have often approached the Govt. of India for a good many years now to be included amongst the Scheduled Listed Tribes. But to no avail so far. Such tribal ethnic groups are –

                   Doungel, Chongloi, Hangshing, Lunkim, Lenthang, Thangeo, Changsan, Touthang, Misao, Lupheng, Lupho, Lamhao, Mate, Baite, some over enthusiast Gangte=Mizos who claim to be direct Mizo without being Lushai either by mistake or due to innocence.

                   These unspecified ethnic tribes have to be rightfully included among those CHIN-KUKI-MIZO      Tribes.

 

In addition to the above analysis, it is also necessary that a decadal population growth among the twenty-nine scheduled listed tribal groups would prove helpful in assessing the approximate total population of each tribe as it stands today by a comparative show of figures for three decades exclusive of 1991 census figures which could not be obtained as are shown below :

TABLE – 5

POPULATION OF 29 TRIBES SHOWING DECADAL GROWTH

FROM 1971 TO 2001

WITHOUT 1991 FIGURES BASED ON CENSUS OF INDIA

 

Sl.No.

Scheduled Tribes

1971

1981

2001

(1)

(2)

(3)

(4)

(5)

1.       

Aimol

836

1100

3643

2.       

Anal

6670

8770

13853

3.       

Angami

72

82

650

4.       

Any Mizo (Lushai Tribes)

7483

9845

10520

5.       

Chiru

2785

3774

5487

6.       

Chothe

1905

2507

2675

7.       

Gangte

6307

8298

15100

8.       

Hmar

23321

30672

42690

9.       

Kabui

40275

52966

62216

10.   

Kacha Naga

13026

17138

20328

11.   

Koirao

1620

2132

1200

12.   

Koireng

458

603

1056

13.   

Kom

6550

8618

15467

14.   

Lamkang

2622

3450

4524

15.   

Maram

4539

5972

10510

16.   

Mao

33379

43917

80568

17.   

Maring

9825

12927

17361

18.   

Monsang

930

1224

1635

19.   

Moyon

1360

1989

1710

20.   

Paite

24755

32570

44861

21.   

Purum

0

0

503

22.   

Ralte

154

203

110

23.   

Sema

3

5

25

24.   

Sukte

3

5

311

25.   

Simte

4111

5496

7150

26.   

Tangkhul

57851

76115

112938

27.   

Thadou

59955

78883

115045

28.   

Vaiphei

12347

16145

27791

29.   

Zo

10600

13236

19112

 

If we look back to Table 4, out of the 29 Scheduled Tribe in Manipur, there are no less than 22 tribes of Chin-Kuki-Mizo origin according to experts and anthropologists in terms of their academic discourses, let alone political camouflage which is of temporary and transitory nature, social and economic aspects of life are more of basic and lasting significance, latently consanguineous relationship that run in the blood. Thus, without any subjectivity, drawing a line of demarcation based on tradition, culture, customs, ethnic affinity, etc. as Prof. Bose said, while ethnic groups of A in the Table No.4 are on the one side of the demarcation line, the others in B, C and D are safely placed on the other.

Such division of the 29 tribes into two groups will in commensuration fall with the territorial distribution of them on the basis of physical proximity. A quick look on the said territorial distribution will help in clear understanding of the matter.

Table – 6

TERRITORIAL DISTRIBUTION OF 29 SCHEDULED TRIBES

IN THE HILL DISTRICTS OF MANIPUR

Sl.No.

Name of District

Name of tribe

 

 

Major Groups

Minor groups

1.        

Senapati

1.    Mao

2.    Maram

3.    Thadou

4.    Kabui

5.    Tangkhul

6.    Maring

7.    Chiru

8.    Kom

9.    Koireng

10.Vaiphei

11.Kacha Naga

12.Sema

13.Koirao

2.        

Tamenglong.

1. Kabui

2. Thadou

3. Gangte

3.        

Churachandpur

1.   Hmar

2.   Paite

3.   Thadou

4.   Anal

5.   Chothe

6.   Kabui

7.   Kom

8.   Vaiphei

9.   Zou

10.       Mizo

11.       Gangte

12.       Simte

13.       Ralte

14.       Sukte

4.        

Chandel

1.       Anal

2.       Maring

3.       Thadou

4.       Lamkang

5.       Zou

6.       Mayon

7.       Aimol

8.       Purum

9.       Tangkhul

10.    Zou

11.    Gangte

12.    Monsang

13.    Chothe

14.    Mizo

15.    Kom

5.        

Ukrul

1. Tangkhul

2. Thadou

 

 

-

It may be mentioned that the Maring tribe known as such in Manipur, is named as Pawi or Mara according to Col. Shakespear in his book on the Lushai Kuki Clans. Thus from the above divisions it goes without saying the Kuki (including of Mizo, Chin, Old Kuki) groups are far more numerous numbering 22 out of the 29 Scheduled listed tribes as against 7 Naga tribal groups, in terms of territorial distribution also, the Kuki groups occupy compact areas extending from Sadar Hills Sub-Division of Senapati District to Chandel, Churachandpur and parts of Tamenglong and Ukhrul districts in close physical continuity, bordering on Imphal valley.

In an extremely explosive volatile situation as Manipur hills in now being placed as “Naga inhabited area’ which is non-existent. It created a fear-psyche in the minds of all concerned, lest territorial integrity of Manipur be disturbed by the action of some unscruples in high places in New Delhi by hypocratic illusion of PEACE being brought into North-East region of India. Manipur is a land of three brothers in which all communities, such as, Kukis, Nagas, Mizos, Chins, Meiteis, Meitei Pangals , other communities from different parts of India, live together peacefully in exceedingly congenial atmosphere of co-existence. It is the gift of nature. Let no man put this as under to earn name propounding a highly conjectural hypothesis called ‘Naga inhabited area’ which is non-existent, hypothetically hallucinative and is the very anti-thesis of the values cherished by the people living in the land of three brothers called Manipur. The claim made by some vested interests of Old Kukis as belonging to Nagas runs counter to findings of Anthropologists as KUKIs, OLD KUKIs to be précised. These small tribal ethnic groups must not be alienated from their consanguineous blood relationship having been established by genealogy and proven facts of scientific analysis and empirical data of anthropological findings to achieve one’s political aspiration, exploiting such small ethnic tribal groups, Temporary political shelter taken by such ethnic groups must not be unduly taken advantage of. They are KUKIs, and shall remain KUKIs as such. It is time to say, a spade, a spade.

There comes a time when things have to be consolidated on a solid ground so as to be able to tell the world that Manipur is a land belonging to a-three brothers placing each ethnic group and community in its rightful position without allowing any element of anti-social and divisive forces to raise their ugly heads which smack of ulterior motives, lest we say, ‘it is too late’ when we cannot call back ‘time’.

Such an action is more expedient urgently in the backdrop of contradicting statement issues by NSCN(IM) leadership to the effect that they would not accept anything short of extension of ceasefire agreement beyond Nagaland. In addition, with the decision of Rajya Sabha for imposition of President’s Rule in Manipur by dissolving Manipur State Legislative Assembly, firmness with action oriented decision of the public under the United College has become imperative and more relevant in the existing political scenario in Manipur. More so, come 31st July, 2001, impending dissolution of Manipur State Legislative Assembly with imposition of President’s Rule in the State is likely to become a reality.

 

 

---

Last modified onSunday, 13 September 2015 19:01
Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents.

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