The Kuki people

Published on March 15, 2005

By PS Haokip

March 15, 2005: The Kukis are indigenous people of Zale’n-gam, meaning ‘Land of freedom’. Zale’n-gam is a terminology used to refer to the contiguous ancestral land situated in present-day Northeast India, Northwest Burma and the Chittagong hill tracts in Bangladesh. Broadly defined, in India this includes areas in Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur; in Burma predominantly the Sagaing Division and the Chin Hills, and in Bangladesh the Chittagong hill tracts. Prior to the advent of the British colonialists the Kukis were an independent people in their undivided domain, each of the clans governed by the Chief according to its own law, custom and tradition.

Kuki Government

The traditional form of Kuki governance is based on Haosa ki vai po (Chieftainship). The government is comprised of a two-tiered system (bicameral): a) Upa Innpi or Bulpite Vaipohna (Upper House) and b) Haosa Innpi or Kho Haosa Vaipohna (Lower House). Semang and Pachong (council of ministers and auxiliary members) aid the chief in the day-to-day administration. Cha’ngloi (Assistant), Lhangsam (Town crier), Thiempu (High Priest and Judge), Lawm Upa (Minister of Youth & Cultural Affairs), Thihpu (Village Blacksmith) include the essential elements of a Kuki community.

Kuki Custom and Culture

Over a thousand Kuki proverbs exist. Uililoh in tui asuneh in, ngachun, ngaha’n athi lo e (Tiny tadpoles smirch the pond, innocent goldfish and salmon give up the ghost), Benglam in den a nisa lep ah ako-e (Benglam seeks the warmth of the sun in the shade) are a few examples in a Kuki dialect. Legendary tales of our heroes and heroines, such as of Galngam, Khupting and Ngambom, Pujil and Langchal, Benglam, Jonlhing, and Nanglhun have regaled many generations. These folklores have been passed down through the oral tradition. Customary rites, such as Sa-Ai, Chang-Ai, Chon le Han, Hun, Kut, Semang are observed. Zale’n-gam is also blessed with exquisite flora and fauna. Teak and bamboo forests cover vast tracts of our land. The mithun and the hornbill are the national animal and bird.

Kuki indigenity with historical reference

Historians such as Majumdar and Bhattasa1i[1] refer to the Kukis as the earliest people known to have lived in prehistory India, preceding ‘the “Dravidians” who now live in South India.’ The Aryans, who drove the Dravidians towards the south, arrived in the Indian sub-continent around BC 1500.[2] In the Pooyas, the traditional literature of the Meitei people of Manipur, ‘two Kuki Chiefs named Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba were allies to Nongba Lairen Pakhangba, the first historically recorded king of the Meithis [Meiteis], in the latter’s mobilisation for the throne in 33 AD.’[3] Cheitharol Kumaba (Royal Chronicles of the Meitei Kings) records that in the year 186 Sakabda (AD 264) Meidungu Taothingmang, a Kuki, became king. Prof JN Phukan writes:[4]

[1] Majumdar, RC & Bhattasa1i, N (1930, 6-7, fifth revised edition), History of India, Shyam
Chandra Dutta, Dacca
[2] Thapar, R (1966, 29), A History of India 1, Penguin, UK
[3] NP Rakung, Reader, in The Telegraph, 17 January 1994, Letter to the Editor, Imphal, Manipur
[4] Phukan, JN, The Late Home of Migration of the Mizos, International Seminar, Aizawl, Mizoram, studies on the Minority Nationalities of Northeast India – The Mizos, 1992, 10

If we were to accept Ptolemy’s ‘Tiladae’ as the ‘Kuki’ people, as identified by Gerini, the settlement of the Kuki in North-East India would go back to a very long time in the past.  As Professor Gangumei Kabui thinks, ‘some Kuki tribes migrated to Manipur hills in the pre-historic times along with or after the Meitei advent in the Manipur valley (History of Manipur, p24).’ This hypothesis will take us to the theory that the Kukis, for the matter, the Mizos, at least some of their tribes, had been living in North-East India since the prehistoric time, and therefore, their early home must be sought in the hills of Manipur and the nearby areas rather than in Central China or the Yang-tze valley.

Prof JN Phukan writes:[1]

If we were to accept Ptolemy’s ‘Tiladae’ as the ‘Kuki’ people, as identified by Gerini, the settlement of the Kuki in North-East India would go back to a very long time in the past.  As Professor Gangumei Kabui thinks, ‘some Kuki tribes migrated to Manipur hills in the pre-historic times along with or after the Meitei advent in the Manipur valley (History of Manipur, p24).’ This hypothesis will take us to the theory that the Kukis, for the matter, the Mizos, at least some of their tribes, had been living in North-East India since the prehistoric time, and therefore, their early home must be sought in the hills of Manipur and the nearby areas rather than in Central China or the Yang-tze valley.

In the second century (AD 90 – 168), Claudius Ptolemy, the geographer, identified the Kukis with Tiladai who are associated with Tilabharas, and places them ‘to the north of Maiandros, that is about the Garo Hills and Silhet.’[2] Stevenson’s[3] reference to Kuki in relation to Ptolemy’s The Geography also bears critical significance to its period existence. In the Rajmala or Annals of Tripura, Shiva is quoted to have fallen in love with a Kuki woman around AD 1512.[4]

The Encyclopaedia Britannica[5] records, ‘Kuki, a name given to a group of tribes inhabiting both sides of the mountains dividing Assam and Bengal from Burma, south of the Namtaleik river.’ Grierson[6] marks out Kuki territory as follows:

The territory inhabited by the Kuki tribes extends from the Naga Hills in the north down into the Sandoway District of Burma in the south; from Myittha river in the east, almost to the Bay of Bengal in the west. It is almost entirely filled up by hills and mountain ridges, separated by deep valleys.

A great chain of mountains suddenly rises from the plains of Eastern Bengal, about 220 miles north of Calcutta, and stretches eastward in a broadening mass of spurs and ridges, called successively the Garo, Khasia, and Naga Hills. The elevation of the highest point increases towards the east, from about 3,000 feet in the Garo Hills to 8,000 and 9,000 in the region of Manipur.

This chain merges, in the east, into the spurs, which the Himalayas shoot out from the north of Assam towards the south. From here a great mass of mountain ridges starts southwards, enclosing the alluvial valley of Manipur, and thence spreads out westwards to the south of Sylhet. It then runs almost due north and south, with cross-ridges of smaller elevation, through the districts known as the Chin Hills, the Lushai Hills, Hill Tipperah, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Farther south the mountainous region continues, through the Arakan Hill tracts, and the Arakan Yoma, until it finally sinks into the sea at Cape Negrais, the total length of the range being some seven hundred miles.

The greatest elevation is found to the north of Manipur. Thence it gradually diminishes towards the south. Where the ridge enters the north of Arakan it again rises, with summit upwards of 8,000 feet high, and here a mass of spurs is thrown off in all directions. Towards the south the western off-shoots diminish in length, leaving a track of alluvial land between them and the sea, while in the north the eastern off-shoots of the Arakan Yoma run down to the banks of the Irawaddy.

This vast mountainous region, from the Jaintia and Naga Hills in the north, is the home of the Kuki tribes. We find them, besides, in the valley of Manipur, and, in small settlements, in the Cachar Plains and Sylhet.
Historical defence of Zale’n-gam, 1777-1944
Opposition to British aggression and interference in Kuki territory began in 1777,[7] during the time of Warren Hastings, Governor General of India. ‘The year 1860 saw the great Kuki invasion of Tipperah [Tripura], and the following year a large body of police marched to the hills to punish and avenge.’[8] ‘In 1845, 1847-1848, 1849-1850, and 1850-1851 there were raids culminating in what is called the Great Kuki Invasion of 1860s.’[9] ‘Early in 1860, reports were received, at Chittagong, of the assembling of a body of 400 or 500 Kookies at the head of the River Fenny, and soon the tale of burning villages and slaughtered men gave token of the work they had on hand. On the 31st January, before any intimation of their purpose could reach us, the Kookies, after sweeping down the course of the Fenny, burst into the plains of Tipperah at Chagulneyah, burnt or plundered 15 villages, butchered 185 British subjects, and carried off about 100 captives.’[10]

[1] Phukan, JN, The Late Home of Migration of the Mizos, International Seminar, Aizawl, Mizoram, studies on the Minority Nationalities of Northeast India – The Mizos, 1992, 10
[2] Gereni, GR (1909, 53), Researches on Ptolemy’s Geography of Eastern Asia (further India and Indo-Malay archipelago), Published in conjunction with the Royal Geographical Society, London
[3] Stevenson, EL (ed) (1932), Claudius Ptolemy: The Geography, (2nd Century), Translated and Edited by Edward Luther Stevenson, Dover edition first published in 1991 (p.xiii), an unabridged republication of the work originally published by The New York Public Library, N.Y., 1932, Dover Publications, Inc. New York
[4] Dalton, ET (1872, 110), Descriptive Ethnology of Bengal, Government Printing Press, Calcutta
[5] EB (1962), Vol. 13, 511
[6] Grierson, GA (ed.) (1904), Tibeto-Burman Family: Specimens of the Kuki-Chin and Burma Groups, Linguistic Survey of India, Vol. 111, Pt.111, Published by Office of the Superintendent, Government Printing, India, Calcutta
[7] Chakravorty, BC (1964, 53), British Relations with the Hill Tribes Bordering on Assam since 1858, Calcutta
[8] Carey, BS & Tuck, HN (1976, first published in 1932)), The Chin Hills, Vol. 1, Firma KLM Pvt. Ltd., Calcutta
[9] Elly, EB (1978, 8 (first published in 1893)), Military Report on the Chin-Lushai Country, Firma KLM (P) Ltd., Calcutta
[10] Mackenzie, A (2005, 342 (first published 1884, History of the Relations of the Government with the Hill Tribes of the North-East Frontier of Bengal)), The North-East Frontier of Bengal, Mittal Publications, New Delhi

In the twentieth-century, Kuki featured in both the World War theatres. The period of WW I marked a momentous Kuki offensive against the British, which is recorded as ‘Kuki rising, 1917-1919’.[1] This event is also referred to as ‘Anglo-Kuki War, 1917-1919’.[2] Shakespeare,[3] Palit[4] and the recently released book The Assam Rifles[5] term it as ‘Kuki Rebellion, 1917-1919’. Unable to engage in cultivation for such a long period of warfare the Kukis could not sustain food supplies and so suspended their offensive and turn themselves in to the enemy.

A notable feature of the Kuki rising is that a relatively minor ethnic group withstood the intruding British imperialist power continuously for nearly three years. Of its scale and magnitude the Proceedings of the Chief Commissioner of Assam in the Political Department states:[6]

The ‘Kuki rising, 1917-1919’, which is the most formidable with which Assam has been faced for at least a generation … the rebel villages held nearly 40,000 men, women and children interspersed … over some 6,000 square miles of rugged hills surrounding the Manipur valley and extending to the Somra Tract and the Thaungdut State in Burma.

Sir HDU Kerry, General Officer Commanding, Burma Division wrote: ‘I therefore decided to put an end to the Kuki revolt by force of arms, break the Kuki spirit, disarm the Kukis, exact reparation and pave the way for an effective administration of their country’.[7] The Military awards given to the British officers and soldiers were: 1 CIE, 1 OBE, 14 IDSMs, 1 King’s Police Medal, innumerable Mentions-in-Despatches and Jangi Inams.’[8]

At Phaikoh, in Eastern Zale’n-gam (western Burma), where Jamkhai,[9] a Kuki king and his descendants reigned, there exist a great stone cave, where the king held court daily.  A similar type of cave exists at Laijang in Western Zale’n-gam, which the British changed to Tamenglong. Tamenglong is now a district of Manipur. Innumerable expeditions were carried out by the Kukis to preserve the territorial integrity of Zale’n-gam. For example, an encounter in which Thanglet, a Kuki prince, took Ningthi’s (Shan king) head is recorded.[10] Kuki Picket[11] or Kuki kitla refers to the location, where an encounter with the Angami Naga at Kohima, in Nagaland. In another episode, 1200 Kuki warriors fought against Kamhou Sukte, a Chin king, who had captured Chandrakirti, the Meitei ninghthou. Following the victory over Sukte, the Kukis reinstated Chandrakirti to his throne.

[1] Burma and Assam Frontier, ‘Kuki rising, 1917-1919’, L/PS/10/724, Oriental and India Office Collections (OIOC), British Library, London
[2] Gangte, TS
[3] Shakespeare, LW Col (1977) (first published in 1929)), History of the Assam Rifles, Firma KLM Pvt. Calcutta
[4] Palit, DK (1984), Sentinels of the North-East: The Assam Rifles, Palit & Palit, New Delhi
[5] Guardians of the Northeast, The Assam Rifles: 1835-2002 (2003, 19-20), Directorate General Assam Rifles, Laitumkhrah, Shillong 11
[6] Burma and Assam Frontier (Op cit), Resolution on the Late Kuki Rising, Extract from the Proceedings of the Chief Commissioner of Assam in the Political Department, NO. 8856 P. dated the 27 September 1920.
[7] Burma and Assam Frontier (Ibid) CONFIDENTIAL, File No. 4895 Field Operations, Simla, Despatch On the Operations Against the Kuki Tribes of Assam and Burma, November 1917 to March 1919, From Lieutenant General Sir H. D.U. Kerry, General Officer Commanding, Burma Division, To The Chief of the General Staff, Army Headquarters, India, Simla. (Diary No. 69190) No. 1762-K.P.M., Maymyo, June 1919.
[8] Guardians of the North East  (Ibid, 20)
[9] Haokip (1998, 17), Zale’n-gam: The Kuki Nation, KNO publication
[10] Ibid, 46
[11] Thompson, J (2002, 149, 154, 156, 164), The War in Burma 1942-45, Sidgwick & Jackson, Pan Macmillan, London

In 1949, Sadar Vallabhai Patel, Home Minister, asked the Meitei ningthou to sign the Merger Agreement to include Manipur within the Indian Union. Kuki chiefs opposed this move because they thought it probably would entail ceding Kuki territory, which was annexed by the British and administered along with Meitei’s territory, the Imphal valley. Over 250 Kuki warriors,[1] sent by the chiefs, were deployed at the palace gate to support the Meitei ningthou, who initially was against merging with India. The ningthou, pressured by a Meitei demonstration group, ultimately yielded and signed the merger of Manipur, including Kuki hills with India.

WWII and Kuki-Japanese relations

According to our folklore, there were the progenitors Songthu and Songja. As referred to in Lambert’s report,[1] from Songthu followed Kuki, and from Songja the Japanese. In Burma and India the Kuki chiefs and the Japanese leaders signed a ‘MoU’ for their joint venture against the British according to Kuki custom: they ate the liver and heart of a mithun and by bit upon a tiger’s tooth. The agreement was that while the Japanese would keep Burma under its rule, the Kukis would regain Zale’n-gam’s sovereignty once the British had been defeated.

Nishi Kikan’s reference to the Japanese, Kukis, Burmese in relation to the names of members of Nishi Kikan of Homalin Tamanti Branch[2] and Nakakisa, a Japanese intelligence officer, who served in the Imperial Japanese Army notes ‘Kuki is a nation, as are India, Burma, and Japan.’
Pu Japan Pakang worked with Japanese officers Masada, Co-operation Commissioner, Nikikong and Ikamura, Deputy Co-operation Commissioner, Civil Affairs Office. With regard to the Kuki-Japanese relationship, for example, Tongkhothang, Chief of Chassad, son of Pache, a war hero and leader of the 1917 Kuki rising, crossed the Chindwin river in November 1943, where he contacted the Japanese requesting four hundred rifles to fight against the British.[3]

During WWII, in accordance with the above pact, Kukis aided Japanese engineers (disguised as Kukis) to survey the terrain, where several strategic roads were constructed. From Thamanti near the river Chindwin in Burma to Phoilen, Khotuh, Kongkailong, Leijum, Molheh Camp, Akhen, Kanjang, Jessami stretching to Kohima. Secondly, from Homalin to Phailen, Khongkan Thana, Chassad to Imphal. Thirdly, from Kalemyo to Tamu, Moreh, Pallel to Imphal. From Fallam, Behieng, Singhat, Bishenpur to Imphal. The Japanese trained Kukis and relied on their espionage amongst the Britishers to gain vital information regarding their movement, etc. On certain occasions, the Japanese, disguised as Kukis, pretending to sell chicken, eggs, and other food items also went to the British camps. Taking advantage of the Kuki-Japanese alliance, the British carried out counter espionage: they employed Nepalis and disguised them as Kukis to infiltrate Japanese camps. Maj. Gen. Palit (1984, p143)[4] relates an incident:

Typical of these returning parties was one under N K Kalur Gurung, who returned with four rifle men all disguised as Kukis. The NCO and his foreman had been captured by the Japanese at the start of the offensive, but managed to escape. They remained in hiding in the jungle until the advancing enemy echelon has passed. They then brought Kuki clothes from the villages and, once in disguise tried to make their way back thorough the Japanese lines. Again they were captured; and this time they were produced before a Japanese officer. During interrogation, they pretended not to understand Hindi, merely repeating ‘Kuki-Kuki’ in a wailing voice. Satisfied that they were only local tribals, the Japanese let them go.

On some occasions, incidents similar to those related by Palit appear to have caused some misunderstandings: it made the Japanese think that Kukis were working against them. Such an act would have been contrary to Kuki loyalty to honour their relations with the Japanese, which was marked by biting on a tiger’s tooth. The mass Kuki support for the Japanese is immortalised in a traditional form of elegy called lakoila:

Theilou Koljang toni lep banna,
Ging deng deng’e Japan lenna huilen kong.

Pego Lhemlhei saigin bang
Mao deng deng’e van thanmjol Japan lenna.

Amao deng deng’e Japan lenna mongmo,
Vailou kon sunsot selung hem tante.

Atwi theikhong tabang a ging deng deng,
Ging deng deng’e Japan lenna huilen kongin.

The first of these verses expresses a deep-felt emotion evoked by the sound of Japanese planes passing over Zale’n-gam. The emotion is likened to that stirred by the evening sun. The British banned the singing of this particular elegy for obvious reasons, but in vain only. The Kukis continue to cherish it even to this day.

The victory of the Allied forces led to the division of Bose’s motherland into India and Pakistan, and a trifurcation Pu Pakang’s Zale’n-gam among India, Burma and Pakistan. This defeat was felt greatly by the two leaders, and so at the end of the War they left for Japan. Speculations continue to this day regarding the fate of the two heroes.

Pu Japan Pakang’s composed a dirge to mark his departure for Japan:

Kathi leh toni phal khat,
Kahin leh janglei chung chon ding.

Free translation:

If I die, it is destined for me,
If I live I shall be exonerated worldwide.

The meaning behind the elegy is that Pu Japan Pakang planned to embark upon great deeds for the Kukis once he reached Japan. To this day Kukis refer to WWII as Japan Gal (Japanese War), not British Gal (British War).

The Kuki National Organisation and its objectives

PS Haokip is president of Kuki National Organisation, and supreme commander of the army. KNO’s armed wing is the Kuki National Army, of which the late Brigadier Vipin Haokip was the first Chief of Army Staff. Colonel S. Robert became the Commander-in-Chief of KNA in January 2005. There are seven cabinet members in the organisation.

The Kuki National Organization and the Kuki National Army, its military wing, was formed in February 1989. The organization operates in northeast India and the Northwest Myanmar (Burma). In post-independent Burma, the Kuki leaders appealed for Kuki statehood. Burma offered to create a Kuki-Naga state, which was unacceptable. In India the Kuki National Assembly was formed on 24 October 1946. Initially the organisation proposed sovereignty for the Kukis, but decided to demand statehood. However, their appeals to Government of India went unacknowledged. Thereafter, Kuki joined the Mizo National Front movement in the 1960s to integrate their inhabited areas into what is presently known as Mizoram. Regrettably, when MNF and Government of India signed the Mizoram accord in 1986, Kuki areas were not included.

Betrayed by MNF and GOI, in the early the late 1980s a group of Kukis – who later formed the KNO – went to Kachin state in Burma to be trained by the Kachin Independent Organisation. After completing their training in Kachin, Mr Thangkholun, the leader, convened a conference at Jangmol-Dingpi. Kuki elders and leaders attended the conference from both India and Burma to formalise KNO as the provisional government of Zale’n-gam, the Kuki nation.
KNO’s objectives

KNO’s principal objectives concern the resurrection of Zale’n-gam, the Kuki nation. In the first instance this relates to the nation-states India and Burma, within which the British colonialists forcibly included the greater parts of Zale’n-gam. In this regard KNO’s immediate objective is two-fold:

a) the historicity of Zale’n-gam’s territorial integrity and sovereignty be recognised;
b) if India and Burma want to integrate parts of Kuki territory within their respective nation this needs to be done by way of according statehood in each country.

KNO is open to dialogue along the stated objectives with the concerned governments. This view, for example, has been stated in the Bangkok based The New Era Journal (June 2002): If amalgamation of Kuki territory is viewed as problematic, in the least, creation of two Kuki states is essential: one within Burma and the other within India.

In keeping with its objectives, KNO has adopted different strategies with regard to India and Myanmar. In India, they follow the policy of appeal and petition. Till date, no armed struggle has been launched against GOI. Memoranda have been submitted to the GOI since 1995 include the following:

     – 2 October 1995 to Shri PV Narasimha Rao, former Prime Minister
     – 4 October 1995 to Shri AB Vajpayee, leader of the Opposition party
     – 17 June 1996 to Shri HD Deve Gowda, former Prime Minister
     – 27 January 1997 to KR Narayanan, President of India
     – 30 July 2004 to Dr Manmohan Singh, the Hon’ble Prime Minister

In Myanmar KNO had to resort to violent means. Its cadres have waged guerrilla warfare against the Military Junta between 1991 and 1999, mainly targeting patrol parties. Steamers have also been attacked along the river Chindwin. The reasons are as follows:

     – The Burmese government have disregarded the fact that Kukis live on their ancestral lands
     – Kuki village boundaries have been removed
     – Traditional form of governance, i.e. haosa (chieftainship) system has been abolished
     – Ethnic Burmese population, extricated mainly from Rangoon and Mandalay, have been transplanted to Kuki areas with a view to rendering the indigenous people a minority
     – Development in Kuki areas is virtually non-existent

KNO’s external associations

The Kuki National Organization maintains association with Kachin Independent Organisation (KIO); National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), and particularly with Wa, Palaung, Lahu, Arakan and Pa-oh peoples. In 2000, as a bulwark against infiltration of alien groups into their areas, KNO initiated the formation of the Indigenous Peoples Revolutionary Army (IPRA). IPRA is comprised of KNA, Kuki National Front (KNF), Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), Hmar People’s Council (HPC) and Kuki National Front – Military Council (KNF-MC). Representatives of KNO have also met the Democratic Alliance of Burma (DAB), an umbrella organization, with a view to becoming a member. The current membership, totalling twenty-six, consist of political parties, including ethnic Burmans, and armed groups from various ethnic backgrounds.

KNO is also a member of Federation of Ethnic Nationalities of Burma. FENB membership also include Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), Wa National Organization (WNO), Lahu Democratic Front (LDF), Pa.O People,s Liberation Organization (PPLO), and Democratic Alliance of Arakan (DPA). FENB’s objectives are twofold: statehood for all ethnic nationalities, and setting up a union of democratic Burma based on principles of federalism. Accordingly, FENB have appealed to the United Nations Organisation through Ismail Razali, Special Envoy of the United Nations to Burma to intervene in Burma regarding creation of statehood for Wa, Kuki, Palaung, Lahu and Pa-oh, who are currently unrepresented ethnic minorities in the country.
Popular support

KNO is active in most part of Kuki areas in India and Myanmar. The organisation takes the responsibility of co-ordinating different Kuki insurgency groups. They have also exercised concern over socio-religious issues, such as church unity, campaign against social evils such as narcotics, theft, exploitation and smuggling of local natural resources, etc. Consequently, KNO have earned respect and support from the Kuki community. By virtue of their inclusiveness and the democratic principles they upheld, the organisation also enjoys the support of other ethnic groups settled in their areas of operation.
KNO publications
KNO have published three books authored by PS Haokip, the president. The publications in English are Zale’n-gam: The Land of the Kukis (1995, revised and reprinted in 1996), Zale’n-gam: The Kuki Nation (1998), The Kuki National Organisation rejoinder (see <>) to National Socialist Council of Nagaland – Isak & Muivah’s article KUKI AND THE NAGA PUBLIC CLASHES, posted on the website Eastern Zale’n-gam (2000) has been published in the Burmese language. These publications deal with Kuki history, customs, traditions, issues of conflict, and articulate the organisation’s ideology.

The designs of British colonialism dealt a devastating blow to Kuki. Efforts made by Kuki National Assembly and Kuki leaders in Burma to seek redressal in independent India and Burma have proved futile. KNO’s aim is the realisation of Zale’n-gam or Kuki state: one in India and the other in Burma. This effort seems to have been interrupted by the violent activities of National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Isak & Muivah (NSCN-IM). In the existing circumstances, PS Haokip, in a video recording, expressed a view pertinent to the organisation’s stand:

In the 1990s, the NSCN-IM inflicted tremendous atrocities upon Kuki: over nine hundred lives have been lost, three hundred-and-fifty villages uprooted, and fifty thousand people rendered refugees. In this scenario and particular juncture, it is immensely ungratifying that GOI should engage in dialogue only with NSCN-IM (after all Naga have already been given statehood in 1963) – the Kukis have not only been blatantly ignored in this instance, their concerns and plight have never been adequately addressed either.

GOI seems to have forgotten that the British forcibly took Kuki land and handed it over to India. This is the ancestral land for which the Kukis fought the British Imperialists in both WWI and WWII. Now, in the context of India, if Kuki is to remain a part of the union, the Kuki land, ‘Zale’n-gam’, needs to be accorded statehood. Kuki does not demand anybody’s land; they only make claim over their own. So far, the deliberations of GOI have been contrary to the expectations of the Kuki people. This is extremely disappointing, especially given the fact of Kuki’s peaceful association with India, and notwithstanding their history of opposition to colonialism.

Despite the odds that face the Kuki people, KNO is committed to persevere towards achieving the organisation’s objectives. KNO will hold steadfast to the values and traditions of our forefathers and not compromise on the integrity of Kuki territory. To this end support from the Kuki community and others concerned, such as human rights groups and Non Governmental Organisations are respectfully solicited.