The history and land-holding behind Manipur south district with special reference to the Haokip Reserved Land – 1907

Published on May 8, 2015

By Letkhosei Haokip

Background

Haokips are one of the major clansmen of the Thadou-Kuki tribesmen of the Kuki people of northeast India and Myanmar/ Burma. The Thadou inclusive of the Haokip clans and other numerous clansmen were brave warriors and lover of their Fatherland. To a Thadou clansman, to own land or Chiefship was/ is dearer than one’s own wife. Owing to that very reason, they (Thadous) held 70% of the present day Manipur hill areas since before the arrival of the British in India and were documented by the later in the year 1907.

As per Mr Cosgrave’s order of 1907 and the sketch Map drawn only in 1941-42, signed and sealed by the President of Manipur Hill Darbar, The ‘Haokip Reserved Land’ of Southern district of Manipur/ present day Churachandpur was divided into three regions such as Northern, Central and Southern Haokip Reserved Land respectively.

Northern Haokip Reserved Land

According to Thenkhomang Haokip, present chief of Ukha Loikhai, in a face to face interview on the 3rd May 2010, Northern ‘Haokip Reserved Land’ under the command and administration of his forefathers covers the following areas; Seltol/Saiton-Kangvai upto Tuitha/Khuga river in the east to Tingkai/Loibol villages in Sadar Hills bordering present Bishnupur district and Tamenglong district in the north, Leimata river in the west, and Natjang-Koite in the south respectively.

Central Haokip Reserved Land

Thongngam Haokip, former chief of Teiseng village (who passed away in 2012) in a face to face interview on the 25th April 2010 at Teiseng stated that Central Haokip Reserved land under the authority of Teiseng chiefship had its boundaries with Natjang-Koite in the north, Tuiladung (Tuila river) in the west, Lhahvom-Ngathal-D.Phailien in the south and Tuitha (Khuga) river in the east.

Southern Haokip Reserved Land

This region comprised of an area covering Kaite stream (Sumchinvum) and Paldai stream (Thingat) in the south, Tuila river (Tuila)in the west and Lhahvom Ngathal-D.Phailien in the north respectively. To sum up, as per Mr Cosgrave’s order of 1907, signed and sealed by the President of Manipur Hill Darbar, the Haokip Reserved Land in Churachandpur covers an area from Seltol (Saiton)-Kangvai-Tingkai/Loibol, contagious to present Bishnupur and Tamenglong district boundaries in its north. Tuila river stands as its boundary in the west, Tuitha (Khuga) river in its east and Kaite and Paldai streams in Thingat (Singat) in the south respectively.

For better understanding of landmarks in the present day, the Haokip Reserved Land/region covers Tuitha/Khuga river in the east, via Seltol/Saiton Kangvai-Ukha/Kwakta in the northeast to Tingkai Loibol in Sadar Hills contagious to Bishnupur-Senapati-Tamenglong districts in northwest, Leimata Power House to Tuila in the west up to Sumchinvum village (Kaite-Paldai stream) in the South and Southeast respectively.

Zenhang Lamka/Hiangtam Lamka

According to Thenkholet Haokip, the present chief of Songpi, in a face to face interview this writer on the 21st April 2010 at his residence, his great grandfather (L) Semthong Haokip, founder of Songpi village authorized Zenhang, a salt dealer and an immigrant from Burma to settle in the present day Old Bazar/Zenhang Lamka in early 1930s to use as a resting spot for him and his villagers whenever they used to visit Meilang/Moirang or Phaipi/Imphal. The spot gradually became the heart of the town in the present day.

The chief also continued that apart from that, Phungkhothang Guite, genealogically, a Thadou but Paite dialect speaker from Guitekual was also granted permission by his forefathers to establish a settlement for his clansmen the same time as per customary practices in which the later offered a jar of wine and threw a feast by slaughtering a pig. Customarily, Guite is the head clan of the HaokipKipgen-Doungel-Guite lineage of the Thadou community. The settlement later on was known as Hiangtam Lamka.

The chief further maintained that as per the agreement of Kuki Chiefs Association (KCA) during 1933-34, the Haokip chiefs have accommodated the various Kuki tribes (Paite, Gangte, Hmar etc.) other than Thadou tribesmen of present day Churachandpur, coming from different places such as Burma, Mizoram, Silchar/Assam and to settle in the ‘Haokip Reserved Land’, as they too belonged to the Kuki tribes on formal payment (customary) of land price in cash or in kind by offering a jar of wine and throwing a feast by slaughtering a pig, to own plots of land or start villages. When inquired about the stated ‘Haokip Reserved Land’, the chief said that he and others have documents.

Lhungdim/Zou/Guite Regions

The chief further said that the land situating towards the east of Tuitha (Khuga) river bordering Sehken, in the south, Sugnu-Sagang-Seltol (Saiton) in the the north-eastern, belonged to the Thadou dialect speaking Lhungdim clansmen. The region bordering Sehken in the north up to Guite area/Guitekual belonged to the Manluns of Zou tribe and the Guite area to the Guite clan.

Singson Region inhabited by Hmars

Over and above that, the area bordering Guite area in the south, Lushai Hills in the west, Tuila river in the east and Laijang of Tamenglong in the north belonged to the Singson clansmen. In this region, most of the villagers are Hmar dialect speakers whereas the chiefs/land holders are Thadous. This was disclosed to me by Lunkhothang Singson, grandson of the chief of Senvon village and current chief of Bethel village, Churachandpur on the 11th May 2010 in a face to face interview at the latter’s residence.

Kuki War of Independence 1917-19 & Its Impact

The coming of the British in India particularly in the hills of Manipur frequently curtailed the rights and freedom of the Kukis. To shorten, as such an enmity grew gradually day by day between the British and the Kukis that resulted in the outbreak of Anglo-Kuki war of 1917-19. This war was known as the Kuki War of Independence 1917-19 by the people who fought the war and was recorded by the British as Kuki Rebellion 1917-19. The war between the mighty British army and the brave and courageous Kuki army lasted for three years. The Kuki army comprised mainly of the Thadous and the Zous from Manipur in the Indian side and it had very little effect in the southern part of present day Mizoram.

According to Vumson in his book ‘Zo History’ (1980), the Kuki-Chin/Zo tribes of Burma/Myanmar that incorporated with the Kuki chiefs of Manipur, India were Gungal, Haka (Southern tribe), Hualngo, Kamhau, Sizang, Sukte, Surkhua, Thadou, Thlantlang/Tlasun and Zahau tribes. All the cognate tribes surrendered themselves to the British authority one after another with the exception of the Thadous. Feeling deeply insulted, the British authority took up several steps to deal with the Kukis, which can be quoted from the book ‘Burma and Assam Frontier’, confidential file no. 4895 field operations, Simla, (diary o. 69190) no. 1762-K.P.M., Maymyo, June 1919 , in the words of Sir HDU Kerry, General Officer Commanding, Burma Division who 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.”

Warrant of Kuki Leaders/Chiefs

With the defeat of the Kukis, the British government started arresting leaders of the Kuki uprising vide order of the Governor General in Council signed by R.E. Holland, the secretary to the government of India in the foreign and political department, dated the 8th December 1919, Delhi addressed to the political agent, Sadiya Frontier Tract. The leaders included twelve Kuki chiefs from Burma who were lodged in Taungkyi jail of Burma while the other twelve leaders from Manipur were lodged in Sadiya jail of present Assam. They were later deported to Andaman and Nicobar Island jail.

As part of their high handedness towards the Kukis, just after the end of Anglo-Kuki war, Manipur Hill Area was also re-organised and in the year 1921 the south-west headquarters Songpi was renamed as Churachandpur by Mr B.C Gasper, the SDO of Songpi, in honour of Maharaja Churachand, who was loyal to the British. Soon after the abandoning of Songpi sub-divisional headquarters by the British, the Northeast India General Mission (NEIGM) bought all the assets of the Sub-divisional headquarters on the 26th September 1930 and used the same location (Songpi) as Mission Compound. The logic is that Songpi was used as the capital during the British period and then during the NEIGM era till late 1960s. At present, all the important 85% of government assets and properties are located in the district headquarters, Tuibuong, Churachandpur.

Conclusion

History and culture has great significances. All great nations of the world have had great histories and cultures. For instance, many Kukis have acquired residential plots and villages in and around Kohima-Dimapur or Imphal or Delhi and they are the legal plot/village holders but not the owner of the district/state. Likewise, many people, irrespective of caste and creed have acquired plots/lands in and around the HAOKIP RESERVED LAND (Kwakta to Sumchinvum) or Kuki district in present Churachandpur but they are not the owner of the district. Having no proper history and culture but calling the original owners of the land (Thadous) as ‘refugees’ by some immigrant and ignorant people in some social media networks must be stopped immediately and should be followed by proper education from community leaders and admins/host(s) of the concerned social networks.

If at all the need arises to change Churachandpur, it is more sensible to reverse it back to its original name SONGPI or HAOKIP-GAM or KUKI-GAM in honor of its original owners/settlers. It may be more appropriate than anything else to call it TUIBUONG after the name of the place where 85% of government assets and properties are being installed/ stationed. Mention may be made of the link language of All India Radio station Churachandpur, located at Tuibuong, where Paite dialect was approved as the link language with the consent of Thadou leaders by dint of customary KHANKHO and not by majority. Now is the right time to pay back as per customary practices based on Khankho, history (not story) and original land holdings.

The writer is a research scholar in Manipur University, India.

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