Thursday, January 13, 2011

Understanding Manipur (Part I)

The data here has been collated from
1) Linky 1
2) Linky 2
3) Linky 3
4) Tribes of North East India: An Ethnographic Profile, by Chaturbhuj Sahu
5) Linky 4

Manipur became a Union Territory in 1956 and later, in 1972, a full-fledged state of India. The area of Manipur is 22,327 sq km, of which 20,736 sq km is the surrounding hills (with ~41% of the population) and the remaining area is the Imphal Valley or plateau (with ~59% of the population). There are nine administrative districts in Manipur: i) Bishnupur, ii) Churachandpur, iii) Chandel (formerly known as Tengnoupal), iv) Imphal East, v) Imphal West, vi) Senapati, vii) Tamenglong, viii) Thoubal and ix) Ukhrul. Of these the four districts of Bishnupur, Imphal West, Imphal East and Thoubal form the Valley region while the rest form the Hilly area.

The Hilly area is the predominant home of the tribal people with Ukhrul, Tamenglong, Churachandpur, and Chandel having more than 90 per cent of the district’s population as ST. Senapati district has recorded 78.5 per cent of its population as ST. These five districts together hold 92.4 per cent of the state’s total ST population. The rest of the four districts (Imphal West, Imphal East, Bishnupur, Thoubal) have negligible percentage of ST population.

There are 29 tribal communities notified as per the census records: Aimal, Anal, Angami, Chiru, Chote, Gangte, Hmar, Kabui, Kachanaga (Liangmei), Kairao, Koirang, Kom, Lamgang, Mao, Maram, Maring, Mizo (Lushai), Monsang, Moyon, Paite, Purum, Ralte, Sema, Simte, Sabte, Tangkhul, Thadou, Vaipha and Zou. These tribes are broadly categorized into two groups: i) the Naga group (which includes Anal, Angami, Kabui, Kachanaga, Kairao, Koirang, Lamgang, Mao, Maram, Maring, Mizo, Monsang, Moyon, Ralte, Sema, Sabte, and Tangkhul), and ii) the non-Naga or the Kuki group. Apart from these two tribal groups, there is a primary chord of ethnic Manipuri (or Meitei) groupings. There is yet another chord of Meiteis who subscribe to Islam and go by the name Meitei Pangals. Thus, Manipur is a four-way toss-up between Meitei, Pangal, Naga and Kuki whinefests modulo the intra-Kuki (and very rarely intra-Naga) whinefests.

In terms of ethnography, the Naga group lead a settled life and have a great affinity with the Naga groups in Nagaland whereas the Kuki group exhibits a migratory habit and have affinity with the Chins and Mizos. The Naga group holds a communal system of control and management of resources whereas the Kukis often have a strong, authoritative and hereditary chiefship for this purpose. Sociologically and anthropologically these non-Naga tribes believe that their customs and social organizations are akin to each other among themselves and that these are different from the ones found among the Nagas. Geographically, the non-Naga tribes occupy contiguous areas and have closer contacts with the Chins of Burma's Chin Hills. Linguistically, languages of the non-Naga tribes are mutually intelligible to a great extent, whereas Naga languages are totally unintelligible to these communities. Politically, the non-Naga tribes had an upper hand in Manipur before independence and had enjoyed official patronage more than the Naga tribes did. In addition to these, many non-Naga villages have mixed population of non-Naga tribes.

The population of Manipur in 2001 Census has been 2,166,788. Of this 741,141 are Scheduled Tribes (STs), which constitutes 34.2 per cent of the total population of the state. Of these 741,141, almost 717,604 are Christians constituting 96.8 per cent of the ST population. The state has registered 17.2 per cent decadal growth of its Scheduled Tribe population in 1991-2001. The total population of the state in the 1981 and 1991 censuses was 1,420,953 and 1,937,149 while the same for the ST population was 387,977 and 632,173 (27.30% and 31.78%). According to the 1961-2001 census, the different tribal numbers is as follows (with % inter-decadal change in brackets):

1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
1 Aimol 108 836(674.07) 1,862(122.73) 2,108(13.21) 2529(19.97)
2 Anal 4,868 6,670(37.02) 9,349(40.16) 10,642(13.83) 21,242(99.61)
3 Angami 632 70(-88.92) 566(708.57) 308(-45.58) 132(-57.14)
4 Chiru 1809 2,785(53.95) 3744(34.43) 6032(61.11) 5622(-6.80)
5 Chothe 1,035 1,905(84.06) 1,687(-11.44) 2,571(52.40) 2,762(7.43)
6 Gangte 4,856 6,307(29.88) 7,891(25.11) 12,793(62.12) 9,442(-26.19)
7 Hmar 15,365 23,312(51.72) 29,216(25.33) 35,767(22.42) 42,933(20.04)
8 Kabui 29,218 40,257(37.78) 26,006(-35.40) 62,487(140.28) 82,386(31.85)
9 Kacha Naga 9,734 13,026(33.82) 12,754(-2.09) 33,640(163.76) 42,013(24.89)
10 Koirao 406 1,620(299.01) 919(-43.27) 1716(86.72) 2348(36.83)
11 Koireng 531 458(-13.75) 948(106.99) 873(-7.91) 1,410(61.51)
12 Kom 5,477 6,550(19.59) 9,830(50.08) 13,004(32.29) 14,600(12.29)
13 Lamgang 1,866 2,622(40.51) 3,452(31.66) 4,031(16.77) 5,894(46.22)
14 Mao 28,810 33,379(15.86) 50,715(51.94) 76,972(51.77) 4,736(-93.85)
15 Maram 4,928 4,539(-7.89) 6,544(44.17) 9,592(46.58) 1,225(-87.23)
16 Maring 7,745 9,825(26.86) 11,910(21.22) 15,698(31.81) 23,238(48.03)
17 Any Lushai tribe(Mizo) 2,746 7,483(172.51) 6,126(-18.13) 8,240(34.51) 15,164(84.03)
18 Monsang 1,342 930(-30.70) 1,139(22.47) 1,803(58.30) 2,130(18.14)
19 Moyon 647 1,360(110.20) 1,642(20.74) 2,081(26.74) 2,970(42.72)
20 Paite 17,029 24,755(45.39) 30,959(1152.11) 40,792(31.76) 49,271(20.79)
21 Purum 82 - 447 388(-13.20) 571(47.16)
22 Ralte 80 154(92.50) 109(29.22) 250(129.36) 5(-98.00)
23 Sema 4 3(-25.00) 24(700.00) 111(362.50) 13(-88.29)
24 Simte 2,818 4,177(48.23) 5,034(20.52) 8,833(75.47) 11,065(25.27)
25 Suhte - 3 282(9300.00) 746(164.54) 1905(155.36)
26 Tangkhul 43,943 57,851(31.65) 79,029(36.61) 107,244(35.70) 146,075(36.21)
27 Thadou 47,994 59,955(24.92) 56,467(-5.82) 121,994(116.04) 182,594(49.67)
28 Vaiphei 8,215 12,347(50.30) 15,463(25.24) 26,877(73.81) 38,267(42.38)
29 Zou 6,761 10,060(48.79) 12,576(25.01) 16,803(33.61) 20,567(22.40

As can be seen from the above data, some tribal numbers such as for Mao, Maram, Gangte etc. have been decreasing. This flux is due to conversion and re-orientation of tribal affinities of the Kuki vs. Naga, intra-Naga and intra-Kuki kinds. The seven most dominant tribes in the 2001 census are Thadou, Tangkhul, Kabui, Paite, Hmar, Kachanaga and Vaiphui (that is, four Kuki sub-tribes and three Naga sub-tribes). Together, they occupied 78.7% of the ST population as the following table shows:

1 All STs 741,141 100%
2 Thadou 182,594 24.6
3 Tangkhul 146,075 19.7
4 Kabui 82,386 11.1
5 Paite 49,271 6.6
6 Hmar 42,933 5.8
7 Kacha Naga 42,013 5.7
8 Vaiphui 38,267 5.2
9 Maring 23,238 3.1
10 Anal 21,242 2.9
11 Zou 20,567 2.8
12 Any Mizo (Lushai) tribes 15,164 2.0
13 Kom 14,602 2.0
14 Simte 11,065 1.5

Of these, many Kuki sub-tribes have refused to be clubbed together with Thadous and there has been a demand for calling their mutually intelligble dialects as Kuki-Thadou or Thadou Kuki or Kuki or Thadou (depending on who you hear). This explains the great preponderance for intra-Kuki hostility. In terms of terrorism in Manipur, there are four types of outfits: i) Meitei outfits, ii) Kuki outfits, iii) Naga outfits, iv) Meitei Pangal (Muslim) outfits. We now briefly describe the main outfits, with a follow-up take soon.

Meitei outfits:
1) UNLF: The United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the oldest Meitei insurgent group in the State was formed under the leadership of Areambam Samrendra Singh on November 24, 1964 to achieve independence and a socialist society. A pan-Manipuri Youth League was formed in December 1968, which functioned as an overground body for the UNLF. Later, differences within the outfit surfaced over the issue of strategies to be adopted. While Samrendra Singh sought to spread ideological consciousness before launching an armed struggle, the more radical leader Oinam Sudhir Kumar established a Revolutionary Government of Manipur (RGM). Samarendra Singh was killed by unidentified terrorists in Imphal on June 10, 2001. In the seventies and eighties, the UNLF concentrated mainly on mobilisation and recruitment. In 1990, it decided to launch an armed struggle for the ‘liberation’ of Manipur from India. In the same year, it formed an armed wing called Manipur People’s Army (MPA).
Whine Profile: The UNLF aims to establish an independent socialist Manipur.
2) PREPAK: The People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) was formed under the leadership of R.K. Tulachandra on October 9, 1977.
Whine Profile: Claiming to be the "most genuine revolutionary groups" in Manipur, the PREPAK’s main demand is the expulsion of ‘outsiders’ from the State.
3) KCP: Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP) was formed on April 13, 1980, under the leadership of Y. Ibohanbi.
Whine Profile: The main objective of KCP is to restore the independence of the erstwhile Manipur kingdom and to bring about an egalitarian society, which is to be achieved by uniting all ethnic-Mongoloid groups belonging to South-East of Himalayan region, liberating Manipur from the Indian rule, building up the strength of the working class and reviving the indigenous culture.
4) KYKL: Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), meaning "the Organisation to save the revolutionary movement in Manipur" is a Meitei terrorist group formed in January 1994 following merger of the Oken faction of the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the Meiraba faction of People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) and the Ibo Pishak faction of the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP).
Whine Profile: The purported objective of the KYKL is to ‘rebuild’ the Manipuri society by clearing it of all vices like immoral activities, drug trade and corruption. According to the KYKL ‘Public Relations Officer’ S.K. Loya, the group stands for ‘nationalism’ of the entire Northeastern region to be based on the principle of "all for one and one for all". Towards the end of 2001, the outfit launched ‘Operation New Kangleipak’ (ONK), an ‘anti-corruption’ campaign to ‘clean up’ the educational system in Manipur. While the outfit continues its activities under the ONK, it has also pledged open support to other terrorist groups who reportedly work against the narcotics trade, drug addiction, immoral activities and corruption in the society.
5) PLA: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was established under the leadership of N. Bisheswar Singh on September 25, 1978.
Whine Profile: The PLA aims to organise a revolutionary front covering the entire Northeast and unite all ethnic groups, including the Meiteis, Nagas and Kukis, to liberate Manipur. PLA, though a Meiti outfit, claims itself to be a trans-tribal organisation seeking to lead the non-Meiteis as well.

Naga outfits:
1) NSCN(IM) runs its reign of terror across the Nagaland, Arunachal and Manipur belts via proxy outfits such as ANSAM (All Naga Students Association of Manipur).

Kuki outfits:
1) KNA: The Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and its armed Wing, Kuki National Army (KNA), were formed in 1988. The first batch of the cadres, under the command of Thangkholun Haokip, was trained by the Kachin Independent Army (KIA) in Myanmar.
Whine Profile: The main objectives of the KNA is to bring together all the Kuki-inhabited areas separated by artificial boundary created in 1935, specifically in the Kabaw valley of Myanmar and the Kuki inhabited areas in the hill districts of Manipur under one administrative unit called ‘Zalengam’ (Land of freedom). In case of the eventuality of such integration not materializing, the KNA aims at the creation of two Kuki states: one within Burma i.e. ‘Eastern Zalengam’ and the other within India, ‘Western Zalengam’.
2) KNF: Kuki National Front (KNF) was formed under the leadership of Ranco Thangboi Kuki on May 18, 1988 primarily to counter the NSCN-IM hegemony in the Kuki-inhabited areas.The KNF split in 1995, with one unit identifying itself as the "presidential faction" and the other as the "military council". The former again split into KNF (Samuel faction) and KNF (Zougam faction).
Whine Profile: The primary objective is to secure a separate State or Union Territory for the Kuki community and the unification of all scattered Kukis in the new homeland, 'Kukiland'.
3) KLA: The Kuki Liberation Army (KLA) was formed under the leadership of Paozangam Letkholun sometime in 1992. He was shot dead by the security forces in an encounter at Chaningpokpi village in the Imphal East district on June 4, 2003.
Whine Profile: The Kuki Liberation Army (KLA) claims to be fighting for an independent Kukiland or a separate Kuki state.
4) KRA: The Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) was formed in December 1999, allegedly with the support of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM). In August 2007, the KRA underwent a split with the formation of the KRA-Unification in the Karbi Anglong district of Assam.
Whine Profile: The primary objective of the KRA is to secure a “separate State” for the Kuki tribe within the Indian union and the unification of all scattered Kukis in the new homeland. In Assam, its declared objective is the creation of the “Kuki National Council”, an autonomous administrative council for the Kukis in the Karbi Anglong district. The KRA-Unification, on the other hand, aims at unifying the Kuki tribals.
5) UKLF: The United Kuki Liberation Front (UKLF) is one of the several small militant groups fighting for an ethnic Kuki state, Kukiland. The outfit was formed on March 29, 2000.
Whine Profile: The purported objective of the UKLF is to uphold the interests of the Kuki community and form a separate Kuki state called 'Kukiland'.
6) ZRO/ZRA: The Zomi Revolutionary Organization (ZRO) was formed in 1993 and its armed wing, the Zomi Revolutionary Army (ZRA), was formed in 1997 following an escalation of ethnic violence between the Kukis and Paites in the Churachandpur district of Manipur.
Whine Profile: The purported objective of the ZRO/ZRA is to protect the interests of the Paite community from the ‘onslaught of any community or group’. It further attempts to bring all the Zomi people, divided by artificial State boundaries in various countries, specifically in Myanmar (Chin State), India (Manipur and Mizoram) and Bangladesh (Chittagong Hills Tracts), together under one administrative unit, a ‘Zogam’, which means ‘land of the Zomi’ under the Indian Union.
7) HPC(D): Hmar People's Convention - Democracy (HPC-D) is an offshoot of the Hmar People's Convention (HPC), which came into existence in 1986, as a political party spearheading a movement for self-government in the north and northeast of Mizoram.
Whine Profile: The Hmars, who according to the 1991 census, were 12,535 in number in Mizoram, were disappointed with the contents of the Mizo Peace Accord of 1986, which failed to address their demand of a 'Greater Mizoram' integrating all areas inhabited by Hmars in Mizoram, Assam and Manipur under a single administrative unit. Since April 1987, the HPC waged an armed struggle for autonomy, which touched extreme levels of violence towards 1991. Hmar cadres abducted tea executives and triggered off a spate of extortions in the Hmar inhabited areas of the States of Mizoram, Assam and Manipur. The purported objective of the outfit over the years has changed from an autonomous district covering the north and northeast Mizoram to an independent Hmar State (Hmar ram) consisting of the Hmar inhabited areas of Mizoram, Manipur and Assam.

Pangal outfits:
1) PULF: A communal clash between the dominant Meiteis and the Pangals (Muslims) on May 3, 1993 over monetary transaction in the Lilong Bazaar area of Thoubal district led to approximately 150 deaths in the Thoubal and Imphal districts. Subsequently, discontented members of the minority Muslim community formed a number of Islamist militant outfits. People’s United Liberation Front (PULF), founded in 1993, was one of them.
Whine Profile: Besides seeking to safeguard the interests of the minority Muslim community in Manipur, PULF’s purported objective is to secure an Islamic country in India’s northeast through an armed struggle in collaboration with other Islamist fundamentalist groups. The outfit also envisions a society based on ‘Islamist values’ and to this end, has ‘acted’ against the prevalence of substance abuse and alcoholism among Muslims in the State. It has also passed diktats on the dress code for Muslim girls in the State.

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