Indigeneity : Setting the record straight
RK Rajendro Singh, President International Meitei Forum
Read "The issue of indigeneity " written by Jangkhaolun Haokip under the caption ‘Who are the indigenous with reference to Manipur’ in the Sangai Express, Imphal (Thursday, May 6, 2021).
There are many theories about the origin of mankind and their migration to different parts of the world. Still many research are also going on and one of the recent findings is that "Myanmar fossils find turns human history on its head, our earliest ancestors came from Asia, not Africa." The theory of origin of Man from Asia, is supported by a well known Palaeo -Anthropogist Prof, Jia -Lanpao of Peking in his book "The Early Man in China."
So, when we talk about the indigenous people of Manipur i.e, Meeteis or Tangkhul or Khongjai (Kuki) and their seven clans system etc, it needs a thorough discussion in a seminar or workshop by a panel of expert in this field.
For this purpose, an arbiter should be appointed. Otherwise no need of arguing in the newspaper or, by giving their personal views or statement in public platforms, This issue or debatable subject of indigenous people of Manipur should not create any communal tensions among the people of Manipur, because it is academic in nature.
Instead, it should be finished once and for all by the arbitrator after hearing the point of arguments on their research papers presented by subject experts or research scholars in this field,
Remember if you give your personal opinions without analyzing different expert views on this sensitive and academic affair, then instead of solving the problem, it will create more problems and chaos in our society especially in a multi-ethnic populated region like Manipur State. As we all know, during the Britishers' divide and rule policy, the hill and valley people were divided under their colonial administration. Still, this type of policy is seen under the provision of Article 71 of Indian Constitution but the traditional and customary laws are always above the present existing laws available in our country or abroad.
So, the best way to solve the problem of aboriginal or indigenous people (the real sons of the soil) of Manipur State particularly is to appoint arbiter of expert committee and to settle the matter academically for all times to come.
King Chandrakriti was never in captivity. Rather he was looked after. He was guarded and protected. When Nara Singh died he was nearly 18 years old and he was only male descendent of Gambheer Singh, who had freed the country from the Burmese, told immensely in his favour. The presence of Nara Singh's sons in his camp had also a favourable effect, as tending to unite the two great factions of the then Manipur Princes. Thus Chandrakriti won the throne.
The name Kooki Ahongpa, Laiki Achoupa found in the Puya 'Pungkhanpa Lon ' is the name of a local deity who was revered as a protectorate of Loilen Khunpilok /Laiching-Ching (an area that comprises of the Loktak and Moirang Thangching). How can Laiki be changed to Kuki ? Such a name cannot be taken as belonging to the Kuki ethnic tribe. For instance, the archaic Meetei word 'Kubiba' is synonymous with the meaning of 'giving blessing', when a Meetei performs a rite and he invokes a soul he uses such words as 'Kuk -Kuk', 'Re-Re ', Kuk is a word often used by the Meeteis. That is why it is used in rituals. No Puyas exist that indicate that the name belongs to the Kuki ethnic group. Please do not claim this name wrongly. There was no mention of Kooki Ahongpa, Laiki Achoupa when Nongta Lailen Pakhangpa was corronated. Kooki Ahongpa Laiki Achoupa was not included among the names mentioned in such Puyas as Pakhangpa Laihui, Pakhangpa Phambal, Ningthourol Seireng etc, when Nongta Lailen Pakhangpa ascended the throne of Kangleipak.
The name Kooki Ahongpa Laiki Achoupa is one of the names mentioned by a Meetei local maiba (priest) when he performs a ritual at the time of preparing a foundation for a homestead / granary or other dwelling so that unwanted happenings may not come in the way of the dwellers or members of the houses. The name Kooki Ahongpa Laiki Achoupa was not present during the time of Nongta Lailen Pakhangpa. It was in existence before his reign. Nongta Lailen Pakhangpa was not the first king of Kangleipak. Many kings reigned before him. That Nongta Lailen Pakhangpa was the first king is a claim made by only one clan (Salai).
Mr Phanjoubam Chingkhei and Dr Lamtingthang are not eminent scholars. So, pertaining to this political issue the "Merger Agreement" was signed on 21 September, 1949. Majority of the intellectual patriots of Manipur including the ruling party, Praja Shanti and the royalists were in favour of the Manipur State Constitution Act 1947. The excerpts of the Assembly proceedings were published rejecting the Merger Agreement. The declaration of the Merger Agreement as invalid was sent to the Government of India but there was no reply. Though Kuki support was not significant, they demonstrated some loyalty to the Maharaj of Manipur. The Kuki chiefs were disheartened and in a predicament if the new India government do not give land to the Kuki for settlement. The Manipur king gave land for settlement to Kuki immigrants and refugees with love and generosity. Now Kukis have been forging the most important records and document ie, the history of a Nation.
King Bodhachandra signed the Merger Agreement at Shillong. The broken hearted and sad king came back to Manipur. Few Kukis with muzzle loading guns also came to the Manipur palace expressing their stand with the King. Though it had no significant effect on the Indian Government, the King also knew it, but he was pleased at that eventful moment and thus gave the Khongjai refugees the land nearby the palace as seen as Haokip Veng etc.
It is proved that, after realizing the GOI policy of divide and rule, tribal appeasement policy even without knowing foreign tribes, Kukis are extremely happy. Now they demand "Kuki Homeland" from Manipur to the Indian Government.
So, let there be no further exchange of counter claims in newspapers. These contentious issues can be amicably resolved through a talk.