Importance Of Having A Demarcated Territory

Published on May 17, 2009

By Lian Uk

Having a national name without any demarcated territory is just a wishful thinking. The reason is that people with no territory are like if they do not exist. That was the reason why Israel had sought their ancestral territory in 1948 as a sovereign country after almost 2000 years of wandering lives all over the world.

Think of the gypsies today. They are still wandering as second class citizens even though they claim themselves to be the citizens of their Diasporas countries. They seem not to have any territory they could claim in their gypsy national name though there was a legend that their territory was somewhere in the north of India.

We all do not want our people to be like that of the gypsies. One of our philosophers, Rokunga, composed a song that there will be no other land in other parts of the world; the land so pleasant, like our peaceful highland where we are free to practice our culture and language in full freedom.

We all accept that we are the same people like our leaders who advocate CHIKIM (Chin-Kuki-Mizo), but we cannot be a people of the world for long if we do not have a territory of our own in which we could practice the several dialects of our language and our culture in full freedom.

We must have a demarcated territory to develop our national identity. Let us not be blinded from seeing the real facts just for the sake of false prejudices. What most important is, recognition by the world in the world system. The United Nations Charter clearly states the right to self-government for people of distinct culture and language, who have territory of a definite boundary.

The territory we could have with the name ‘Kuki’ would be possible only if our people in Manipur can fight and get a self-governing territory out of Manipur state. Manipur state itself is a tiny piece of land, much smaller than the present Chin state, which has an area of not less than 14000 square miles, larger than many sovereign countries.

Where can we find any territory in the name of ‘Mizo’, legally demarcated by any internationally recognized law?  We could find only in Mizoram, which is only 8000 square miles, half the size of Chin state. There has never been any existing territory demarcated by any internationally recognized laws with the name ‘CHIKIM’ either.

There is a very wide territory demarcated once in the name of ‘Chin’ by the internationally recognized law, the Chin Hills Regulation 1896, which was once enforced in the Naga Hills District, Lushai Hills District and the Chin Hills district, which are today transformed into Nagaland, Mizoram and Chin state.

No one can deny the existence of Chin Hills Regulation 1896. According to the law, Chins include Lushai, Kukis, Nagas and Chins in the Chin Hills and any person who adopt the Chin culture and language. This includes our people in Chittagong Hills Tract, Tripura Hills, Manipur Hills, Arunachal Pradesh, and in some parts of Assam. The Chin Hills Regulation 1896 is still practiced in its context in the Naga Hills.

The British had tried to carve out the territory in which the Chin Hills Regulation 1896 was enforced, to create a British province in 1945-46 under a British governor, which was then equivalent to the political status of Bengal and Burma, under the Crown Colony Scheme to be able to pave the way for total independence.

Unfortunately, our leaders who should have led us in those days lost that opportunity by refusing the offer because of the miscalculation of the possible outcome of the scheme after World War II.

Many of us seem to have unstable concept in our national identity. That is bad. We should not do that. Let us claim our territory once demarcated by the Chin Hills Regulation 1896, an internationally recognized law during the British Empire.

Chin is the most inclusive name for our people according to the Chin Hills Regulation 1896. It is also the name which has been existed to prove that we have been an independent people since the beginning of the history of Burma and India. It is this name which connects our people in different geographical areas.

Most importantly, let us not forget the fact that we are the same people.

The writer is an elected Member of Parliament from Chin State in the 1990 general election in Burma. The elected representatives were never allowed to form government.