IMPHAL: The Democratic Students’ Alliance of Manipur (DESAM) has stated that misinterpreting history to make political mileage must be shelved and all acts must be based on facts. All the citizens were enjoying the benefits guaranteed under the constitution of India as now but to make outrageous claims twisting history will boomerang, leading to communal tension.In a press release signed by Secretary General of DESAM Leishangthem Lamyanba Meitei, the alliance has responded to a letter dated October 15, 2020 from the Kuki National Assembly addressed to the Chief Minister of Manipur under the subject “What is written is written and cannot be changed” surfaced in the social media. It is interpreted that this is a missive after the dropping of a minister from Kangpokpi as the issue covered by the letter was kept under cold storage for quite a long time.To justify their claim that the conflict of 1917-19 was an Anglo-Kuki War, certain references were made. The British referred to it as the Kuki rebellion, but we cannot go by their nomenclature. The term Anglo-Kuki War was first coined by P.M. Gangte in his work “Anglo-Kuki War 1917-19” in 2006 and by Dr. T.S. Gangte in “Trials of Kuki Chiefs” reproduced in “Understanding Kuki in 2010. Historians differ in their opinion, J. Roy in his “History of Manipur” (1958) called it Kuki rebellion, K. Kipgen in his “Thadou Kukis: A brief account of history and culture” (1982 called it as Thadou War of Independence while S. M. A. W. Chisthi named it the Kuki Uprising in his “Kuki Uprising in Manipur 2004. It will be a misnomer to call this historical event a war as no column of the British Indian Army was involved in the various skirmishes and battles. On the British side, it was fought solely by the Assam Rifles and the Burma Military Police; both paramilitary forces.The narratives from the Kukis marginalised the role played by Chingakhamba Sanachaoba, though he was the only one involved who got life imprisonment. It was Enjakhup, a former sepoy of the Naga Hills battalion who was among the Kukis who got the maximum penalty and he died in prison at Kohima. During the course of the hearings, Kuki Chiefs admitted their guilt but blamed Chingakhamba Sanachaoba for instigating the rebellion.
While going into a bit deeper, the number of the casualties was much more among the Nagas vis-a-vis the armed personnel of the Assam Rifles and the Burma Military Police. The Nagas who had sent out a large number of their youth as a part of the Labour Corps for WWI were disadvantaged due to lack of men to defend, and the old women and children fell prey to the Kukis in many villages in Tamenglong and Ukhrul. Indeed, historical events cannot be changed; but the attempt to misinterpret events is unacceptable.
In fact, the twisting of history to claim that the Kukis were settled in Manipur since the time of Nongda Lairen Pakhangba with the misinterpreted claim that the Kukis guarded Pakhangba when he was coroneted is a travesty of truth. According to Chakparol, Kansarol a leader of the Chakpa sent Chakmaringba, Langmaringba, Mungmaringba and Ngangmaringba to escort Pakhangba and guard his during his coronation and the claim made by an author without any references that out of these four, two Kukis is nothing but a pipedream. The term Naga and Kuki were coined by the British, and there is no common name for all the tribes among the two omnibus terms other than the two terms coined by the British. The Meitei called the various tribes by a different name, buttery also used two terms Awang Hao Tribal of the north; the Nagas and Khagi Hao;Tribal of Burma, the Kukis.The British divided the Kuki into two categories Old and New and among the Old many have settled in Manipur from the dawn of history. Many are what Prof. Gangmumei called “Culturally Kukis but politically Nagas” and the fight among the two to bring within their fold these smaller tribes continues. The claim that Meidingu Taothingmang is a Kuki does not merit any consideration as it is not supported by any pieces of evidence. The first mention of Khongsai in Cheitharol Kumbaba was in 1786 CE. The claim of the New Kukis that Manipur is their ancestral land is a bit too far. Despite claims that they arrived during the time of Meidingu Khagemba, there is still no evidence, but what may be the time they come to Manipur, they came much later, and the majority comes during the
last one and half-century. The Old Kukis are, however, indigenes of the State which nobody can deny and the effort of the New Kuki to bring them within their fold is to delve deeper into the past to show that they have been here since the time of Pakhangba! A travesty of history.Further the Alliance mentioned that the threat of a separate Political Administrative Unit for the Kukis to safeguard their land is illogical without any basis as they are migrants who had settled coming mainly from the Chin Hills. Misinterpreting history to make political mileage is unacceptable, and all acts must be based on facts. Despite being a migrant, they are enjoying all the benefits guaranteed under the Constitution of India as they are now citizens but to make outrageous claims twisting history will boomerang, leading to communal tension.