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Anglo-Kuki War monoliths run into trouble

Anglo-Kuki War monoliths run into trouble
One such memorial stone in Ukhrul
Correspondent IMPHAL, Oct 16 | Publish Date: 10/16/2019 10:58:40 AM IST

The centenary commemoration of the Anglo-Kuki War has run into trouble with objections pouring in to Kukis erecting memorial stones that reads “In defence of our ancestral land and freedom.” 

Referring to the Kuki’s rebellion against British colonial forces from 1917-’19, the community is celebrating its centennial commemoration on Thursday.

Many a civil society organisations including Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL), All Manipur United Clubs Organisation (AMUCO) have been raising objections against the inscription of words “In defence of our ancestral land and freedom” in the memorial stones erected at Kuki areas in connection with the commemoration of the historic event.

The pressure groups demanded that the words ‘ancestral land’ inscribed on memorial stones be removed.

Taking serious note of the matter and considering  brewing tensions, Manipur government has been trying to settle the issue by holdings talks with Naga as well as Kuki based civil bodies.

The state government had also taken up the matter with the Union home ministry so that it can be raised with Kuki based armed groups engaging in tripartite peace talks with Centre and state governments.

Objecting to the inscription of “ancestral land” in memorial stones, FoH, a conglomeration of the indigenous communities of the seven clans of Manipur comprising of 24 ethnic groups, said it will create misunderstanding among the communities living together in harmony in the state since time immemorial.

Addressing a news conference at Manipur Press Club, Imphal, FoH appealed state chief minister N Biren Singh not to attend the commemoration function considering the sensitivity of the issue.

FoH president Sapamcha Jadumani observed that Kukis should not claim the state as their ancestral land in the name of commemorating the events of 1917-19.

While urging the state government to intervene in, he demanded that if Kukis were allowed to use the words it will create tensions among the communities living in the state. 

He informed that FoH has also submitted a memorandum to the Union home minister Amit Shah in protest against the contentious words inscribed on the memorial stones.

FoH working president Ramthing Hungyo reiterated FOH’s appeal to the chief minister not to attend the commemoration function and warned that if the chief minister attended the function, it will invite communal violence in the state. 

FOH further revisited the history and claimed that it was not war but rebellion that forefathers of Kuki had waged against the British and Kukis using the word “war” was irrelevant.

Jadumani reminded that the Kukis were once known as Khongsai and the historic event was not against the British but to dethrone the then king Churachand Maharaj of Manipur organised by Chingakham Sanajaoba who was the elder brother of the then king (Churachand Maharaj).

Chingakham Sanajaoba was set to have mobilised the Khongsai (Kukis) as his soldiers to revolt and dethrone British appointed king (Churachand Maharaj).

If the revolt against a king is taken as war and remembered as Anglo-Kuki war, it will pass a blur history of Manipur to the generation to come, he observed.

FoH or any other organisations were not against the Kukis settling in the state as FoH’s motto was living together in harmony among the different communities in the state. 

At the same time, he alleged that Kukis never think of Manipur as their land saying despite living in the state, they demanded their separate homeland or territorial council.

This shows that they are able to think of the state as their land, he claimed. 

Mention may be made that homeland for Kukis was raised by Kuki National Organisation and United People’s Front (UPF), the umbrella bodies of Kuki based armed groups engaging in tripartite peace talks with the government of India and Manipur government.

Supporting the president, FoH working president Ramthing Hungyo said rebellion broke out to wrest for kingship of Manipur and no war was fought.

“It would be right to call it “Kuki-Anglo rebellion,” he added.

Anglo-Kuki War Centenary Commemoration Committee had recently announced that the centennial commemoration of the Anglo-Kuki War 1917-1919 will be held at C Aisan village in Kangpokpi district on October 17.

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