Apropos the International Meitei Forum states stand-a rejoinder by Pu Ch. Birendra dated appearing in the 4th and 5th June, 2015 issues of The Sangai Express and other local dailies, the Kuki Research Forum (KuRF) wishes to clear any whiff of resultant misconception on the intellectual credibility of KuRF that is bound to emanate from the level at which the ongoing public spate has further degenerated into one of personal attacks, name calling, wild invectives and innuendos.
The forum initially responded to Pu R.K Rajendro, President, International Meitei Forum’s incendiary, baseless, communal and exclusivist statements made in his inflammatory speech on ISTV dated 16th May 2015 as it appeared to the forum that the esteemed individual was attempting to incite communal passion based solely on wild and unfounded distortion of Kuki indigenity in the state of Manipur.
The KuRF is independent and guided by the vision of intellectual integrity and logic and stands for peaceful co-existence above all else. Irrational arguments or one that borders on violence does not find place in the forum. The forum generally does not comment on everything and from every individual or group that claim to espouse the cause of the Kukis. However, given the nature of IMF’s provocative and historically untenable statements, KuRF is obliged to issue its last reply/rejoinder for the introspection of IMF and discernment of the public.The forum call upon all esteemed readers, intellectuals, scholars, academicians, Political leaders and concerned citizens of the state to exercise their best judgment as to which of the two forums is attempting to sow seeds of communal hatred, parochial sentiments and disintegration of Manipur.
- First, your salutary address with the words “D/Descendant of Immigrants” is in bad taste and the tone and tenor of your write up is rather conspicuous for the absolute lack of basic decency and factual veracity, normally expected in a civilized discourse, and not so much for the historical narrative. Through its brazen attack on Kuki-Chins, IMF exposes a total absence of both academic scholarship and dignified restraint.
- The level of your discomfiture with KuRF reasoned response dated 1st of June, 2015, has apparently overwhelmed you so much so that you have taken recourse to the all too familiar strategy of divide-and-strike, first by dividing the Kukis into New and Old as the British Colonial did and second, by amusing attempts at entangling the Naga community into this fruitless diatribe, the significance of which is not lost sight of.
In so far as the intra-ethnic relationship among consanguineous brothers viz., the so called Old and New Kukis are concerned, the KuRF is conscious of the apparent fragmentation between the two, but suffice to say here that the fundamentals (Stalk) are too strong not to withstand divisions (Barks) as in a family (Tree). It is but natural for siblings from a common parentage to evolve into nucleated families of their own which in no way repudiates their root. And, may it be noted that when push comes to shove, the identity will still find its hold as strong as ever. Historically, linguistically, socially and culturally they belong to Kuki-Chin family. There is no scientific or ethnographic basis for distinguishing between ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Kukis. The semantic, ‘Kuki’, if anything, binds both Old and New under one irrefutable identity and destiny.
- The KuRF appreciates the latest statement of the IMF that ‘Meiteis and Nagas are indigenous people of Manipur’. The Manipur government was also contemplating at one point of time to make an official declaration that Meiteis and one particular community of Manipur are blood brothers. This is almost in line with what T.C. Hudson had said; “Meiteis, Kukis and Nagas are brothers.” Unlike IMF, the KuRF considers Meiteis, Nagas and Kukis as indigenous people of Manipur with significant affinities. The perceived ethnic ties between Naga and Meiteis are indeed a positive sign of historical milestone by scholars and intellectuals who transcends the mythological barriers to establish new and emerging genealogical findings on continuing basis. But these apparent gung-ho is surprisingly intermittent and situational as they are contextual to needs and nothing more. IMF’s policy of dividing tribals would lead to more anti-Meitei and anti-Manipur rhetoric’s, thereby causing irreparable damage to the tribals’ ties with the majority Meiteis. The IMF’s desperate attempt to divide the tribals is bound to be an exercise in futility. It is high time for the IMF to realize that Manipur is not mono-cultural but multi-cultural and multi-racial. The political problem that beset Manipur, then and now could be resolved only when policies and strategies reflect this diversity.
- Why are the issue of Immigrants (Foreigners) and Nomads so dear to IMF and its tall leaders? Northeast India has been described as ‘one of the greatest migration routes of mankind’ (Barpujari: 1992. 35). Various ethnic groups came to Manipur from pre-historic times. The present ethnic groups of Manipur, viz., the Meiteis, the Naga tribes, the Kuki-Chin tribes and other Indian communities are the descendants of those migrating people. (H.S.Sharma, History of Manipur: An Independent Kingdom, 2011). The entire people of Manipur belong to the same ethnic group (N. Tombi Singh:1972.17). Meiteis had their ultimate origin in the hill areas of Manipur. (V. Chakravarty 1986). “Manipuris(Meiteis) are a mixed race between the Kukis and the Nagas.” (Elwin 1969, 451). Grierson, Konow, S.K. Chatetterjee and many other linguists classified Meitei under Kuki-Chin group of the Tibeto-Burman group of language. Touthingmang, the third Meitei king was from Touthang clan. (Manimohan, Poirei Sanna Leibak). Nongdam Lairen pakhangba, the first historically recorded king of the Meithis (Meiteis)’s mother was a Kuki woman named ‘Lenghoi’ or Nungmaidenga. (William Shaw 1929:47-48). As Reid said, while the Raja reigned over the valley of Manipur, the Kukis “ruled the roost in the hills that surrounded the valley of Manipur. (History of the North East Bordering on Assam). IMF’s repeated attempt to suppress the historical truth is motivated and a slur to basic right of every ethnic community to dwell peaceably in the land that has been their own since known history, to develop and progress and to contribute their share in the evolution of Manipur culture and civilization.
Nonetheless, the sequence of inroads into present state of Manipur by one ethnic group preceding/succeeding another is a normative reality and does not in any way confer the right of exclusive ownership over land or its resources to one group to the exclusion of others nor does it deprive the later migrants of their right to claim ownership over the land settled by their ancestors.
- The Kukis of Manipur are Indian by nationality and indigenous tribe of Manipur by birth and descent. James Johnstone, writing on Kukis as being heard for the first time in between 1830-1840 in Manipur valley similarly betrays a monumental misunderstanding or ignorance or both. The British colonialists may have transferred some Kukis from one area to another, but it is hugely preposterous to imply these relocations to account for the entire Kuki population. Normally, immigrants and nomads have no land and do not conquer land and people. The Kukis have land and country to rule over, to fight wars to protect their land to conquer others as shown during the Kuki Rising (1917-19). The Kukis have been a dependable ally for the Meitei Maharajas from the first historic King Meidingu Nongda Lairen Pakhangba to the times of Chandrakirty. They upheld mutual co-existence, peace and dignified relations with Meiteis and in that spirit had opposed the Manipur Merger Agreement and patiently attempted to make the state of Manipur a success in the post independent period. The exclusivist and chauvinist attitude of fanatic elements as represented by IMF are consistently trying to destroy the historically friendly relations between the Kukis and Meiteis. After the merger of Manipur with the India Union in 1949, the erstwhile communalities of the state of Manipur have become citizen of India. The Kukis are as much indigenous and masters over the land they occupy as any other community in Manipur and don’t owe anybody any explanation for their existence. Perhaps, the IMF argument is based on The History of Manipur by J.Roy (PP.2 &34)
- With regard to your farfetched innuendo of killing Meitei’s as a pattern within an overall strategic domination architecture to populate and dominate Manipur by Kukis, it made a nice fairy tale reading and nothing needs to be said where imagination can take one to ridiculous conclusions! On various incidents that you mentioned, surely, there would have been incidents and differences of opinion and even misunderstandings. Such things do happen between neighbours and sometimes inevitable. However, these incidents and occasional differences of opinion should be set aside keeping in mind the larger interest.
Lastly, the Kuki Research Forum again reiterate that every saner element within the Meitei and Kuki communities should guard against grossly false, misleading, communal and historically untenable utterances and statements of IMF. Since KuRF stands for peaceful co-existence among the different communities of Manipur, the forum would like to have scholarly debates and discussions with Meitei civil societies other than the IMF (which need not be engaged seriously) by looking at the past to explain the present situation for constructive dialogue and debate. Be that as it may, the fulcrum of the KuRF rejoinder rest on the non-negotiable rights of Kukis as a citizen of India and indigenous ethnic community from the throes of pre-historic age right down to the age of post-independent India; which was, is and shall remain an abiding reality for now and for posterity.
Issued by Kuki Research Forum, they can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org