Conflict Resolution in North East India: Perspective of the Kuki Christians

Published on December 14, 2010

By Satkhokai Chongloi

 

Introduction

 

The present so called North East India comprising officially the eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim[1] and Tripura has become a killing field since India’s independence in 1947. The region has suffered ever since the withdrawer of the British and subsequently, the Indian North East has been depicted with various images like trouble torn area, insurgency area, war zone, boiling pot and so on. The people have not realized till today that if the region is like a boiling pot, there must be someone who has put the fire to continue the pot boiling.

 

Therefore, I rather depicted the North East as though performing Shakespeare’s play under the wise and famous director’s instruction and so no mistake has been made to divide and rule the region. With a closer look, someone finds the deeper and darker political deception played by the so called government rulers. Therefore, it is a high time for leaders of the North East India to find solution of the conflict in the region

 

The Kuki people live not only in the North East India but also in Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and Upper Myanmar. The Kukis are the most victim community and deprived of their rights. As I was requested to read a paper on “Conflict Resolution of North East India: Perspectives from Kuki Christians,” I took it as a challenge and an opportunity to express the perspectives of the Kukis on the cause and concern of conflict in the North East India.

 

I.  THE KUKI PEOPLE AND THEIR COUNTRY

 

No historians till date can challenge another indigenous people living in the land of the Kukis before the Kuki people occupied these areas. In the Pooyas and Royal Chronicles of the Meitei Kings, two Kuki Chiefs known as Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba were allies to Nongba Lairen Pakhangba, the first historically recorded King of the Meitei in the latter’s mobilization for the throne in 33 AD. Cheitharol Kumaba (Royal Chronicles of the Meitei Kings) recorded that in the year 186 AD Meidungu Taothingmang, a Kuki became King.[2] Noted historians such as R. C. Majumdar and Blasttasali in “History of India” refer to the Kukis as the earliest people known to have in prehistoric India, preceding the Dravidians whose descendants now live in the south India.

 

Lieut. Col. A. S. Reid says, “Previous to the expedition of 1871-72, the wild tribes, which had been in the habit of raiding our North Eastern Frontier, were generally spoken of as ‘Kukis,’ a Bengali word meaning hill men or highlanders.”[3] Deputy Commissioner of the Hill Tracts Captain T. H. Lewin in 1870 described the Loosei, commonly called the Kookies, as a powerful and independent people, who touch the borders of Chittagong Hill Tracts. He added that they (Kookies) extend in numberless hordes into the North and the North-East, until they reach Cachar on the one hand, and the frontiers of Burma on the other… they are known to the Bengalees by the name of Kookie, and the Burmese as the Lankhe.[4]

 

G.A. Grierson, C.I.E., Ph.D., D. Litt, I.C.S. in his book titled as “The linguistic survey of India” vol III Part III, published in 1904 by the Government of India which provides a general idea of the wingspan of the Kuki Country and the composition of its people is reproduced here:  

 

“The territory inhabited by the Kuki-Chin tribes extends from Naga Hills in the North down into the Sandoway District of Burma in the South, from the Myattha 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 bordering mass of spurs and ridges, called successively the Garo, Khasia and Naga Hills. The elevation of the highest points increases toward the east from about 3,000 feet in the Garo Hills to 8,000 and 9,000 in the region of Manipur. These chain mergers, in the east, into spurs, which the Himalays shoot out from the north of Assam towards the south. From here, a great mass of mountain ridges starts southwards, inclosing the alluvial valley of Manipur, and hence spreads out westward to the south of sylhet. It then runs due north and south, with cross ridges of smaller elevation through the districts known as the Chin Hills, the Lushai Hills, Hill Tepperah, and the Chittagong Hill Tracts. Farther south the mountainous region continues, through the Arakan Hill tracks, and the Arakan Yoma, until it finally sinks into the sea at cape Negrais , the total of the range being some 700 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 summits 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 Irrawady. This vast mountainous region, from the Jaintia and Naga Hills in the north, is the home of the Kuki-Chin tribes.  We find them, besides, in the valley of Manipur , and, in small settlements, in the Cachar plains and Sylhet… Kuki is Assamese or Bengali term, applied to various hill tribes, such as the Lushais, Rangkhols, Thadous etc. It seemed to have been known at a comparatively early period. In Ray Mala, Siva is stated to have fallen in love with a Kuki women, and the Kukis are mentioned in connection with the Tipperah Raja Chachag, who flourished about 1512A.D.”

 

II. THE KUKIS DEFENDING THE INDEPENDENT HILL COUNTRY

 

For centuries, the Kukis had been living in perfect union with nature unaware of any political set up claiming dominance over them. The Kuki country exists between India and Burma which past writers described it either “Independent Hill Country” or “Kuki Country.”  The British colonized India and Burma but the large chunk of hill country mentioned here was not colonized. Jawaharlal Nehru was cited saying, “The Tribal Areas are defined as being those long frontiers of India which are neither part of India nor Burma, or under any foreign power.”[5] This was the country once the Kukis have protected not only for the Kukis but also for all people living in the region. History records the Kukis defending of this country against British invaders in early eighteen century and the last and the greatest of all was fought in 1917-1919 which historians named as “The Kuki Rising,” “The Kukis Rebellions 1917-1919,” or “The Kuki War of Independence.”

 

1.  The Kuki government vs British Government

 

The first encounter between the Kukis and the British took place the time when Warren Hastings was the Governor General of British India as the plea responded by the Raja of Chittagong who sought British protection against Kuki raids on his subject in 1777.  Major Kuki raids occurred in the years 1845- 1951.

 

(1) The Great Kuki Invasion: The year 1860 was known as “The Great Kuki Invasion” in which “15 villages were burnt and plundered, 185 British subjects killed and about 100 captives carried off.”[6]  

(2) Expeditions: Foreseeing the Kukis people as thorn in the flesh and the difficulties involved in their invasion into the Kuki-Gam, the British in their part had started sending military expeditions against the Kukis from 1844. The first major expedition against the Kukis was that of Captain Blackwood’s in 1844. Three years later, expedition was sent under Col. Lister. Another great expeditions were sent 1860 under Major Raban, then under General Nutshall in 1868 and then in 1871-72.[7] 

(3) British New Policy: Expeditions did not bring about an amicable peace rather there were more raids reported. In 1871, within a period of thirty days, from January 23 to February 23, the Kukis conducted nine raids and attacked British tea planters, who had intruded into their territorial hunting ground. The British adopted a new divided and rule policy in 1889, which eventually divided the Kukiland into three districts: (1) The North Lushai Hills in May 1890, (2) The South Lushai Hills in April 1891, and (3) the Chin Hills in 1892-1893.

 

2.  The Kuki Government in the World War I.

 

Eventually, the Great War broke out in 1917 with the British and lasted till 1919. The war with the Kuki Inpi was the longest war ever fought by the British colonialists in India. In magnitude, it is second only to the Sepoy Mutiny.[8]  After a two years long war, the Kukis’ jhumming based economy could not sustain them any longer and the Kuki Inpi thus stopped the fight. Then the British invited the Kuki Chiefs to capitulate promising them general amnesty, the Kuki Chiefs refused but chose to be in prison where many Chiefs died in prison and some were released after the term of their imprisonment was completed. So the Kuki Chiefs saved the “Independent Hill Country” by war and imprisonment.

 

3. The Kuki Government in the World War II.

 

While the Kukis could not reassess the pros and cons of the war fought and the aftermath of the war which brought about the untold miseries, the World War II broke and without any hesitation the Kukis fought a long side of the Indian National Army. The history of Kukis and this country would have been totally different today had the wars been won by the German forces and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

 

III. KUKIS TRADITIONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION

 

1. The Institution of Salam Sat

 

The Kuki people regards an adulterer or fornicator as person of low character, and she or he becomes the object of public ridicule. A Kuki boy who commits adultery with a young unmarried girl is asked to take her for his wife, but if he refused to marry he would need to perform “Salam Sat a customary law of committing adultery and also pay the girl one Mithun. On the other hand, the boy wanted to take her for his wife but the girl does not agree the boy will still fulfil the strictures of customary law. In their relationship, if the girl was pregnant, she would bear and deliver the child and take care of the child for about three years. Then the boy would pay a Mithun plus a steel gong and take his child

 

If a wife commits adultery willingly, she would be divorced and sent back to her parents without any payment of penalty of divorce. If she felt sorry and repented from her sins and asked for forgiveness and if her husband forgive her, she could be still his wife. But if she were raped, then the one who raped her would have to kill a pig in the Chief’s house. His Upa (Older brother or head of his family) would be fined a Mithun which the Upa of the woman’s husband would receive the Mithun. This is being done because a couple should not play games.

 

2. The Institution of Hemkham

When one intentionally or unintentionally killed someone, in order to avoid the victim’s family revenge the culprit’s family killed a pig in the Chief’s house for Hemkham (like present day cease-fire). This Hemkham is to be done as soon as possible to avoid the further use of weapons in retaliation.  Once Hemkham is being carried out, both parties are bound automatically by the Law of Hemkham and killing has been stopped and arbitrated in a peaceful means. Once Hemkham is performed, negotiation started, the murderer has to pay the following for Hemkham performance.

(1)  Selpi khat (one Mithun) for Kosana

(2)  Khipi chang ni (two pieces of bead) for the eyes

(3)  Dahpi khat (one Gong) for his Pillow

(4)  Pondum khat (one traditional shawl) for winding sheet[9]

 

3. The Institution of Toltheh

 

The Kukis expend all effort to avoid murder. There is no capital punishment (killing) in the Laws of the Kukis, but bultuh (chained by a big log) for life long. A person who loses temper and try to kill or threaten another person is penalized. He has to kill a pig in the Court of the Chief of the village and promise not to continue such behaviour in the future.

 

If a person got injured and shed blood in the fighting, before the Village Court judges right or wrong, both parties involved should first make settlement on the shedding of blood. Because the blood spilling makes the ground defiled. The one who sheds blood has to kill a pig for the institution called “Toltheh.” The meaning behind Toltheh is that when blood is shed, the village ground is defiled. When nature is defiled God is not happy and therefore, nature needs to be cleaned. It is clearly indicated in the incantation of Toltheh ritual:

 

“…..na Vohpi maikem bohni solang, alu khonah a paiyin lang chonset kinotdoh tante; ato khotoa paiyin lang chonset kinot lha tante; Pathen thu ahi’”.

 (… cut your mother pig that has slanted forehead into two halves. Throw the upper halve towards the north of the village, which will push out sins.  Throw the lower halve toward the south of the village, which will push out sins. This is the word of God).

 

Various animals are used as penalty for violating against the law but when killed it is performed as ritual. So that the person is free once again and the environment which has been defiled is cleansed.  The following incantation shows how the nature is restored:

“Tunin phupi akentai phaipi akentai. Kaleiduppi hungthouvin, kaleithopi hungthouvin”. ( The evil elements have retreated today, let the fecundity of my loamy soil be restored”).

 

The Kuki Village Court is one of the fastest courts of the world there is no pending of cases. All cases are done in due time. The Village Court restores both the sinner back to his/her normal life and also allowed humankind to live peacefully with the nature

 

IV. USING TRADITIONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CASE STUDIES

 

1. Hemkham with the Meitei community

 

Two Kuki youths namely, Paolenlal Chongloi from Keithelmanbi Military Colony and Paokhosat Kipgen from Bongbal Kholen who were students of NEHU Shillong on their way to celebrate Christmas at Bongbal Kholen were unfortunately lynched by Nongbrang Meitei Villagers in Thoubal District, Manipur on the fateful day od December 22, 2009. The two were misunderstood with the Kuki Militant Group operating in the area. The Meteis version says that those two youth belong to a militant group who attacked the village and ride away with a TATA 704, contrary to their claim the people of Bongbal kholen and Keithelmanbi Military colony claimed that the two were students of NEHU in Shillong who came for Christmas holiday and were on their way to Bongbal Kholen to celebrate Christmas.

 

Tribal social organizations like KSO, ANSAM, ATSUM, KUMHUR and KMA block the NH-39 for a day and some of the Metei Leaders from UCM and AMUCO, with the help of the government of Manipur have visited the spot and the victim families. Government of Manipur initiated and the conflict was solved by performing Hemkham on 31.12.2009. The Nongbram Meiteis performed Hemkham by killing a pig and admitted their crime before the Court of Bongbal Kholen Chief.  The matter was resolved between the two parties.

 

2. Hemkham with Government of Manipur

 

Way back in September 1. 2004, Jangkholen Chongloi of Khongsai Veng Imphal was pulled down from his house and shot dead in front of his own family by the Commandos of Imphal East. The Kuki Movement for Human Rights, Kuki Students Organization and Khongsai Veng Haosa Inpi and Government of Manipur represented by Hon’ble Minister Francis Ngajokpa and Hon’ble Minister Ngamthang Haokip resolved the problem when the Hemkham was performed by Government of Manipur.

 

Similar incidences like two Kuki boys namely Paominlien Touthang and Lunlal Haokip were shot dead by Police Commandos of Imphal West on 26, July 2006 at Langol Laimanai. KSO, AMSU, KUMHUR, KMA with Shri O. Ibobi Chief Minister of Manipur reached agreement and settled the matter after Government of Manipur performed Hemkham a Kuki traditional institution.

 

3. Hemkham for unknown perpetrators of killing

 

The latest incident happened when Manggoulen Haokip on the night of November 17 at National Games Village was shot dead by the unknown miscreants. To settle the tension arising out of the killing, the State Government has signed a memorandum of agreement with KSO, Imphal Branch on November 19, 2010.

 

According to the agreement, the State Government assured that the culprits would be arrested at the earliest possible and the customary 'Hemkham' imposed in order to avoid unwanted incidents/revenge. The agreement was signed by president of KSO Imphal Branch Helal Khongsai and general secretary Seiboi Haokip on behalf of the student body while IFC/Sports Minister N Biren Singh, TD Minister DD Thaisii, MLA of 46 Saikul A/C Doukhomang Khongsai, HAC Chairman Thangminlen Kipgen and MLA of 41-Chandel A/C Thangkholun Haokip on behalf of the State Government.

 

V. KUKIS’ RELATIONSHIP WITH NEIGHBORING TRIBES

 

1.Kukis relationship with the Tripura King

 

The relationships of Kukis with the Tipperah Kings in those days have been recorded in many books.  Dr. Horatio Bickerstaffe Rowney in his book called “The Wild Tribes of India mentions that “Tipperahs are Kookies who own allegiance to Rajah of Tipperah, paying him an annual nuzzur, and abwabs on marriage and other occasions.”  It was the King of Tipperah who married a daughter of Kuki Chief and they maintained a much cordial relationship respecting and helping each others’ governance.  Alexander Mackenzie has much more in his books, “The North East Frontier of India about the relationship of Kukis with the Tipperahs. 

 

The Kings of Tripura belong to Halam Kuki.  They have elder brother who is always consulted in all matters related to duties of Upa/Elder.  The Kuki Chiefs ruled under the command of Tripura Kings.  It was said that every year end, the Kuki Chiefs went to Tripura King and discuss matters related to governance and laws and orders of the regions. Since the Kukis were known and feared for their military prowess, the neighbouring tribes hired them or asked their assistance when they were in great trouble.  The Kukis extended help to the Chakma Chief Ramoo Khan who rebelled against the East India Company in 1777 called into has assistance large bodies of Kookie (Kuki) men who lived far in the interior part of the hills (Carey and Tuck, 12).

                                                                                                                                               

2. Kukis relationship with the Meiteis

 

The Kukis have been neighbours to the Meiteis in Manipur.  The Maharajah ruled powerfully in the valley but the Kukis ruled in the hills.  They helped one another in times of war.  Some incidences can be mentioned such as:

(1) Ava lan, (war) the Chahsad Kuki Ningthou (Chief) helped the Meitei Ningthou, who fought against the Burmese King. The Chahsad Ningthou killed the Burmese King and brought the head and presented it as a trophy to the Meitei Ningthou.

(2) In the war against the Assamese Abhor King, the Kukis again helped the Meitei King. Even when the Chin King abducted Chandrakirty Singh, 1200 Kuki warriors went to his rescue and brought the Meitei King back to his throne.

 

Even in post independence India, Kukis opposed the Meitei King to sign merger agreement. The Kuki Chiefs led by the Chahsad Chief, tried their level best to stop the Maharajah Bodha Chandra for signing merger agreement.  But at last, the King went to Shillong and signed Merger Agreement on September 21, 1949.  Eventually, Manipur valley was merged fully with Indian Union on October 15, 1949, but the Hills remained under the rule of the Kuki Chiefs.

(3) The present relationship with the Meitei

 

The present Manipur state is mainly dominated by the Meitei community who are two third of the whole population of Manipur occupying the valley which is hardly 10% land of the state. Since India is a democratic country and where heads are counted, the valley Meiteis in the state Assembly has 40 seats and another 20 seats goes for the Outer Manipur who are tribal Kukis and Nagas. Most of the Government offices, educational institutions, Hospitals etc have been located in Imphal the capital city of Manipur. Moreover, some of the smaller Kuki towns like Moreh, Churachandpur, Kangpokpi, Saikul and Motbung are proposed to be declared as Urban Towns.  

 

The militant groups of the valley also planted landmines in the Kuki area, in Chandel District where more than 30 Kuki innocent civilians have been killed and many more people became handicap for life. The militants also gang raped about 20 Kuki girls in Palbung area and a young mother in Churachandpur district of Manipur.  The Kukis have apprehension over the newly development which they believe will not work for peaceful coexistence. The Kukis endured hardship with maximum patience for peaceful coexistence.

 

3. Kukis’ relationship with the Nagas

 

(1) With Mao Nagas:

Kukis have maintained a cordial relationship with the Nagas.  The past history shows their relationship and treaties signed between them.  The cordial relationship of the Kukis with the Mao and Paumai Naga people can be seen on the inscription of Pudunamai village’s erection of memorable 16th feet high stone where names of Chiefs who had signed Peace Treaty with them were inscribed and the list numbering from 7-14 are the Kuki Chiefs.  It is a living monument of peace and tranquility upheld between the Kukis and the Mao and Paumai Nagas.

 

(2) With Semomas and other Naga tribes

Secondly, the Kukis have good relationship with the SEMOMAS. They signed alliance of brotherhood and Pu (L) Mangkhokai from the Kukis side and Pu (L) Dopulie, Hepie from the Semomas were signatories. The other could be seen between the Jampi Chief and the Tening Chiefs of the present Nagaland.  The Tening people received inhuman treatment from their fellow Nagas.  It was said that this weaker Naga villages were vulnerable of rape, loot and attack from the stronger Naga tribes. They make peace with Jampi Chief and the Jampi Chief protected Tening village. Therefore, the Tening Chief in appreciation and gratitude offered a piece of land to the Jampi Chief which is the living symbol of their love and peace between them.

 

The Kuki Chief of Jampi Pu (L) Thusong Sitlhou in his hey days have peace treaty with the Khonoma village to help and protect one another’s village from invaders.  The Khonoma Chief and Jampi Chief drunk water together from the gun’s barrel for oath as symbol of peace treaty.

 

The Kukis have religious relationship with the Zeliang. They formed Kuki-Zeliang Association and clubbed together during 1936-1953. While the Kukis were engaged in war against the British, Naga farsighted leaders also formed the Naga Club in 1918. The historic memorandum to the Simon Commission, which I believe was the basic for all subsequent political struggles of the Nagas was submitted in 1929 where a Kuki leader, Pu Lengjang Khongsai Kuki was one of the signatories. The Kukis in Nagaland have been part of the Nagas’ political struggles since then. The cordial relationship could be seen in many incidences like the Kukis were clubbed together with Semas and Rengmas and called – “SEKURENG” for administrative convenience. In modern days, there are many Kukis high ranking leaders serving among the Naga militant groups like Kilonser (Alee), Deputy Kilonser, and Tatar etc.

 

(3) The present relationship with the Nagas

Century’s old peace between tribals living in Manipur hills was disrupted when the United Naga Council, Manipur served “Quit Notice” to the Kukis on 22/10/ 1992. Eventually, the NSCN (I-M) has started killing the Kukis. More than 900 Kukis have been killed and more than 360 villages have been uprooted.

 

The Kuki Inpi was revived on June 29, 1993 with its traditional Govt. Policy: (a) That the Kuki Inpi is non-communal, (b) Peaceful coexistence and (c) Justice for all. The Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) initiated to have consultation with the UNC-M which was responded and the first consultation meeting was held at Manipur Baptist Council Conference Hall on March 29, 1994. The second meeting was held at Kuki Christian Church Assembly Hall on April 4, 1994 where the UNC-M informed the Kuki Inpi that they were not allowed to attend this meeting by the NSCN (I-M) and they could not continue meeting with the Kuki Inpi Manipur.

 

It was said that the then Kuki Inpi President Pu T. Kipgen advised the UNC-M to contact KIM as and when the UNC-M is permitted and ready to have consultation on the issue why UNC-M was compelled to wage war against the Kukis. And after one of the Committee for Restoration of Normalcy (CRN) meetings at MBC Centre, the Vice President of Kuki Inpi Pu Lalkhohen Thangeo was kidnapped and the following day, his mortal body was found inside a sack in one of the ponds near Muslim Cemetery in Imphal.

 

In response to the daily news about the “Kuki-Naga Conflict,” the Kuki Inpi Manipur declared that there is no conflict between the Kukis and the Nagas. They believe that the term “Conflict” has been coined by some element just to distract the movement of the Nagas’ self determination as conflict with the Kukis. Therefore, how many people have been killed from both Kuki and Naga was because of the movement of NSCN (I-M). 

 

One very serious violation of human rights and all civilized citizens in the 21st century should strongly condemn is what had happened to the people of Kanjang and neighboring Kuki villages. The Kukis of this area have been forced to be converted into Puchery Naga tribe. They were forced to use Puchery Bible and forced to sing Puchery songs in their Church services. It has to be condemned strongly and the Nagas should stop and restore the Kukis as Kukis.

 

Recently, the UNC-M and KIM newly started meeting together to talk about what has compelled the United Naga Council, Manipur to wage war against the Kukis, their future and try to restore the age-old peace and harmony in their land.

 

VI. CAUSES AND CONCERNS OF CONFLICT IN THE NORTH EAST INDIA.

 

The World War I and II brought about changes in some part of the world. Creation of India and Burma was one of them which annexed part of the Independent Hill country into Indian Union, part of which into the then Burma and part of which into Bangladesh lately without consultation and consent of indigenous people of the region. Some of the causes of conflicts lie in the separation and creation of states and boundaries. The region has witnessed large scale of violence every day and some of the causes are mentioned in the following:

 

1. The first main cause of conflict in the North East India is “Land issue.”

 

(1) The North East India is joined with the Indian mainland by a narrow corridor called “Chickens’ neck.” The region shared 90% boundaries with surrounding foreign countries and the North East India is also sandwiched by the world’s famous religions like (a) very pragmatic and realistic Communist of China in the north, (b) very calm and spiritual Buddhist of Myanmar in the East, (c) very religious and irreconcilable Muslims of Bangladesh in the South and (d) very rational and philosophical Hindus in the West. This finding itself speaks volumes and no wonders why we have endless conflicts in the region. Christians of the region have miles to go with conflicts and they are challenged to stand together.

 

(2) Most people of the North East India are classified as Scheduled Tribes by the Indian law of classification. However, they are not tribal as such. They are Landlords. It is not the lands belong to them rather, they belong to the lands. Why there are numerous militant groups operating in the region is because of the Land issue. They fear that the land they live freely would be dominated by someone else. It is because of the Land most tribal feuds within the region happened. The lands we live are still in the hands of the landlords (Tribal). All conflicts happened because of outsiders’ policy to divide and rule the region. This was one of the reasons why so many militant groups are operating in the region today to protect their ancestral lands.   

 

(3) All militant groups in the region have one common issue – that is “Defending the land.” We may make a positive conclusion that they love their ancestral land which we called it the North East India and North West of Myanmar (Burma) today and it is obvious that they have been protecting this region for centuries and live in peace. Therefore, the land issue could be solved if all militant groups dialogue together and find their common denominators whereby they can collectively defend the land.

 

2. The second main cause of conflict in the North East India is “Marginalization.” 

 

(1) Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act 1873 was to protect the tribal lands of the North East India. The Act which was introduced as the “Inner line Permit” in lieu of Passport of the present day to bar outsiders (Non-residence of the region) to enter the region is now changed into “Protected Area Permit, which will mean the people living in the region are under someone’s protection.

 

(2) The region has been taken step by step and the whole region felt into Indian Union, Myanmar or Bangladesh. Manipur and Tripura merged into Indian Union on October 15, 1949. Mizoram on February 20, 1987. Bangladesh was borne on March 26, 1971 and the Kukis of Chittagong Hill Tracts were included without their knowledge and consent.

(3) Peace Accord use for conflict resolution a failure in the North East India

 

Quite a number of Peace Accords had been signed in the North East India since 1947.  History is our witness of failure in all Peace Accords.

(a) Naga Peace Accords: Mentioned can be made that the Three Accords signed by the Naga rebel groups, in 1947, 1960, and 1975 did not bring amicable solution for the Nagas.[10] Then Nagaland became full state of Indian Union on December 1, 1963

 

(b) Mizo Peace Accord: The Mizo Peace Accord was signed between Mizo National Front led by Pu Laldenga and Government of India in 1986 which marks the end of about the 20-year long insurrection in the entire state of Mizoram. Then Mizoram became full state of Indian Union on February 20, 1987but section of MNF are still against to the accord.

(c) The mass surrendered of Bodo Liberation Tiger on December 3, 2003 creates Bodo Territorial Council while the others rebels of Bodos against the creation.

 

3. States in the North East India named after a community or tribe a failure

 

The people in the North East have not learnt till today from our past history of Peace Accords with neighbouring Government of India. Do peace accords bring peace in the region or created more misunderstanding and conflict? The present scenario of the North East India is the answer for the above questions.

 

(1) Government of India signed Peace accords with rebelled tribe/s who have not been satisfied with the present governance and tribes having militants. The Government of India tends to seek solution for the last sighted provocation rather than addressing the root cause of conflict in the region which creates enmity between tribes living together peacefully from time immemorial.

 

(2) Peace Accord had never been signed with the loyal citizen living in the region rather all accords have been signed with rebel groups that promotes even the loyal citizens to take that path if they would like to have dialogue with the Government of India. 

 

(3) After Peace Accords were signed, eventually statehood or alike had been given to the rebel groups and the state is named after their tribe like Nagaland for the Nagas and Mizoram for the Mizos. Were there other than Mizos living in Mizoram and were there other tribes other than Nagas living in Nagaland etc.? Do they have peace after those accords were signed? Then why the Hmar People’s Council and the Brus not happy in Mizoram? Can Government of India Sign Peace Accords with the more than 400 indigenous tribes living in the region just to make them satisfy?

 

Conclusion

 

The political solution for trouble-torn North East India cannot be dealt in isolation of a particular indigenous people or in a piece-meal basis.  It has to be done collectively.  It is rooted in the lives and cultures of people groups living together from time immemorial.  It was the Kukis who defended this country not for their own people alone, but for all the people living in the region and must be done likewise today if any indigenous people fighting to protect these regions. The lasting political solution lies not from outside, not even from New Delhi, Yangon and Dhaka, which are recently formed Govts, but in the hands of people living together here from time immemorial.

 

There must be mutual understanding and respect of all people living in the region. Our government should be like of non-territorial style of governance where all people groups took part in decision making. Unless our movement is for the people, by the people and of the people of the whole communities living in the regions, our chronic problem will still remain untouched and success will remain only in our dream. The Kukis have been closely monitoring all movements but if the hard paid blood of yesteryear heroes of the Kukis would come to naught, the Kukis have to review their stands.

 

 

References

 

[1] Sikkim became full state of Indian Union in 1975. It became a member of the regional North Eastern Council in 2003, although not contiguous with the other states of the North East India.

[2] P. S. Haokip, Zale’n-Gam the Kuki Nation (Zale’n-Gam: KNO Publication 2008), 132

[3] A. S. Reid, Chin-Lushai Land: Including the description of various expeditions in the Chin-Lushai Hills (India: Calcutta, 1893), 5. Reid also says that the Chin, Lushai were included in the name Kuki since the days of Warren Hanstings and their attack against the British and their subjects dated as far as 1777.

[4] Cited Lewin in T.S. Gangte, The Kukis of Manipur (New Delhi: Gyan Publishing House 1993), 20.

[5] Prasenjit Biswas and C. Joshua Thomas editors, Peace in India’s North-East (Regency Publication, New Delhi 2006) 136.

[6] Lian H. Sakhong, Religion and Politics among the Chin People in Burma- 1896-1949 (Sweden: X-O Graf Tryckeri AB, 2000), 164-165

[7] Karunamay Sinha, The Sentinel Melange, Magazine vol.xxvii No 9, (Omega printer and Publisher July 26, 2009), 6.

[8] Karunamay Sinha, August 30, 2009, 5.

[9] Satkhokai Chongloi, Unpublished Dissertation of D.Min entitled “Culture and Traditional Unity: Context of the Church’s Mission Among the Kuki People in Manipur India,” (UTS Philippines, 2003), 38-40

[10] In 1947, the Naga National Council, comprising eleven tribes signed Nine – Point Agreement which was also known as Naga-Akbar Hydari Accord with the Governor of Assam state, Akbar Hydari. The Ten years period of agreement was interpreted in their own ways. The Nagas assumed that they will have independent after ten year period of agreement ends. However, the Indian side was ready to give Sixth Scheduled type of administration to the Nagas. The Sixteen-Point agreement was signed between the Government of India and the Naga People’s Convention in 1960 which the Naga National Council refused to recognize. The next accord was “The Shillong Accord in 1975.

 

The writer is senior lecturer of ministries at Trulock Theological Seminary, Imphal, secretary social concern of Kuki Christian Leaders’ Fellowship, general secretary of the Kuki Movement for Human Rights, and chairman of Kuki Nampi Palai.

 

Note: The paper was presented at a seminar on 'Peace Making in North East India' at the Eastern Theological Seminary, Jorhat, Assam (India), held from December 1-4, 2010.

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