ANSAM reacts to Anglo-Kuki War commemoration

IMPHAL, 15th Oct: With regard to the "so called Commemoration of Anglo-Kuki War 1917-19", All Naga Student Association, Manipur (ANSAM) has said that it "does not promote animosity because past histories have taught enough lessons that there cannot be peace if one intends to claim what does not belong to one".
ANSAM also said that it is not against the Centenary Celebration but "distortion of history with a mala fide intention to create communal tension under the concocted nomenclature 'the Ango-Kuki War 1917-1919' and the proposed inscription 'in defence of our ancestral land and freedom' with an intent to grab the ancestral land of the aboriginal communities living in the State of Manipur is anti-thesis to the peaceful co-assistance".
The Naga student body also said that land is sacrosanct for the indigenous people because the identity and history lies in it. "Therefore, it is collective responsibility of the Indigenous people to protect our land history from aggression and distortion and ensure peaceful co-existence".
Objectively, said the ANSAM, the "Kuki rebellion" of 1917-19 was a rebellion caused as a result of the recruitment against France labour corps in 1917. The colonial policy of Kuki settlements in Naga areas between the year 1830- 1840 A.D during the reign of Maharaja Nara Singh is evident from the standing fact that the name Kukis were first heard in Manipur (Johnstone J., My experience in Manipur and Naga Hills,P.25). The Naga student body also said that it is a matter of grave concern that the "Kuki nationalists and few other hate campaigners" of the Nagas are deeply immersed and jubilant to celebrate the centenary of the "Kuki rebellion". The Anglo Kuki war 1917-1919 as claimed by the Kukis is a "wild dream" for the simple reason that it was never a war, asserted ANSAM, adding, "A war is generally fought between two independent countries. It is but a shame on the part of some historians to have recently coined the rebellion as 'Anglo Kuki War' which is a misnomer." "The so called Anglo Kuki War is a bogus and non-existent in the history of Manipur," it added.
According to the Naga students’ body, there was never a war between the colonial power and the Kukis but a "horrid massacre" of indigenous communities especially the Nagas living in the present hill districts of Manipur. The Kukis raided Naga villages, looted Naga granaries to feed themselves, abducted Nagas for ransom, burnt villages and mercilessly killed thousands of Nagas during the course of the rebellion between 1917-1919 by using 600 muzzle loading guns by the Kuki mercenaries to protect the interest of the British against the Burmese, alleged the Naga student body. The nature of the rebellion against the hegemony of established colonial power and repercussion aftermath the rebellion do not substantiate anything to call it war against colonial yoke, it said. It was rather more of an ethnic feud targeted against the indigenous inhabitants. There are instances of Makui Atangpa villagers in Tamenglong district who were massacred mercilessly, ANSAM added.
"So, if the concocted Anglo-Kuki War 1917-1919 should be allowed to go down in the pages of history as a fight in defence of the ancestral domains and freedom of the Kukis, it will be a disgrace and dishonour to the aboriginal communities who had surpassed more than 2000 years or more of civilization dating back from 33 A.D. and there was no Anglo-Kuki War in the history of Manipur," ANSAM added.
According to ANSAM, Colonel Mc Culloch, the then political Agent in Manipur who was entrusted by the reigning King Nara Singh to settle the problems of the "Kuki immigrants" in Manipur had a wrong notion that Manipur will be useful when the French and Portuguese influence in Burma was strong against the British interest in Burma and for Manipur also. RK Jhalajit Singh Padmashri, a historian of Manipur also subscribed to the historical statement of Maj General Sir James Johnstone’s Book “Manipur and Naga Hills” page-45 where he stated, “the new Immigrants began to cause anxiety about the year 1845 and soon poured into the hill tract of Manipur in such number, as to drive away many older inhabitants”. However under the British protection, Mc Culloch settled them down allotting to them lands in different places with the permission and blessings of the Maharaja, ANSAM further stated.
"As a matter of fact, the rebellion that occurred at sporadic places in Naga ancestral domains and the plain areas in the valley of Manipur was nothing but a ploy for settlement of the Kukis, originally a nomad who wanders from one place to another in search of food and shelter," the Naga student body remarked.
It then said that the "lop-sided and concocted" history framed by the "Kuki nationalists" for a pipe-dream homeland without an iota of truth is ridiculous for the simple reason that they are never the owner of the land in any part of Manipur either by natural law of land or by conquest. "They (the Kukis) came to Manipur as late as 1830s. There are several instances supported by secondary documents that the Kukis are foreigners. The refugee status is clearly stated in the letter of the deputy commissioner vide no. B-R/67/DC/874-5 dated 6th April 1968," it pointed out.
ANSAM then said that many Kuki villages like Saivom, Tengnoupal, Khudeng Thabi, Lokchao and Kuki hamlets were given permission to set up in Naga ancestral domains by Maring, Aimol and Chothe villages. "In the case of some Kuki villages under Tongou (Ringui) village viz., Yailen, Mongkot Chepu and Shongphel, an agreement was signed between the headman of Tongou (Ringui) and Kuki villages in 1950 wherein Kuki villages accepted the suzerainty of Tongou (Ringui) over the land," ANSAM claimed. "In return for allowing the Kuki villagers to settle within the jurisdiction of Tongou Kuki villagers agreed to offer domesticated animals preferably pig or cattle to Ringui village from time to time as tribute". According to the Naga student body, in 2001, a mutual understanding was reached in reaffirmation of suzerainty of Tongou village that the land inhabited by the Kukis within the ancestral domains of Tongou village should not be sold to any outsiders and that both the communities should continue to co-exist peacefully. "Kuki village like Mollam, Zalengpung, Lamlai Chingphei and Sanghai are not exception as these villages are within the jurisdiction of Tongou village," ANSAM added.

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