Kuki tribe are not Indians for them to claim any rights or deny any rights to others.
A letter dated June 1968 mentioning about resettlement of Kuki refugees from Burma is circulated widely to claim that the Kuki tribe are not Indians and that they have no rights to claim any rights or to deny any rights to others. The words ‘Kuki refugees from Burma’ is highlighted in the viral letter. Some of the posts carrying the letter with such a claim can be seen here, here and here.
Old pic, retweeting again. Lets we forget, who the Kukis are and how they came to Manipur. Official Govt documents of 1968 writing for settlement of "Kukis refugees from Burma." #savemeitei #SaveManipur #KukiTerrorists #kukimilitants #IllegalImmigrants #ManipurUnderAttack… pic.twitter.com/pC0D54DXmw
— Meitei Heritage Society (@meiteiheritage) June 14, 2023
What is the truth?
When searching for the history of Kuki community we found a couple of articles published by The Hindu. One of the articles titled ‘Kukis | Fight for land and identity’ highlighted the words said in 1870 by Captain T.H. Lewin, the Deputy Commissioner of the Chittagong Hill Tracts at the time. “They extended in numberless hordes North and Northeast until they reach Cachar (Assam) on one hand and the frontiers of Burma on the other,” the official wrote of the Kukis in his account.
Another article titled ‘The history of the Kuki insurgency in Manipur’ mentions that the Kukis are an ethnic group including multiple tribes originally inhabiting the North-Eastern states of India such as Manipur, Mizoram and Assam; parts of Burma (now Myanmar), and Sylhet district and Chittagong hill tracts of Bangladesh.
The official website of Tribal Research and Cultural Institute, Government of Tripura mentions that Kukis are known by different names to different communities. Some called them Lushai, some called them Kukis, Darlongs, Rokhums and among the Burma border, they are known as Chins. They called themselves Hare-ems. However ‘Kuki’ has been accepted as the generic name for the community.
The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order dated 1950 shows that ST status has been granted to a list of communities including Kuki tribes. It is to be noted that Manipur was a part of Assam till 1971 and attained statehood in 1972.
The book ‘The Purums : An Old Kuki Tribe of Manipur’ published in 1945 mentions the count of Kukis in Assam and Bengal as per the 1931 Census as 1,08,282. The Kukis of Assam numbered 91,690 and Bengal 16,592 in 1931.
The book ‘Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India’ published in 1907 mentions Kukis as Lushai hills inhabitants. And it further states that they were a terror to their neighbors outside their own hills that the Chittagong chief appealed to Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of Bengal, for help against the Kukis in 1777. This proves that Kukis are part of India at least since 1777.
We also found some of the other letters relating to the viral letter on a Facebook post. One of the letters is found asking to examine the geographical distribution of the Kuki refugees from Burma in the respective sub-division, and also, the villages where they can be moved for permanent settlement. “It may be borne in mind that they will generally be acceptable to only to existing Kuki villages in the area and these villages should have adequate jhum cultivation land to absorb the new families. With financial assistance from the government, the settlement of these families should be acceptable to the chief of the existing Kuki villages”, the letter further stated. This proves that there were Kuki people and villages earlier.
According to an estimate of the NUG that was shared with The Hindu, there are at least 50,000 Kukis from Myanmar who have taken refuge in Mizoram after the coup of 2021. But not all Kukis are refugees as claimed in the viral posts, as there are incidents dated 1777, 1844, and 1870 mentioning the existence of Kukis in India.
It is found that a letter dated 1968 that mentioned Kuki refugees is shared with misleading claims that the Kuki tribe is not Indians. It is to be noted that the tribe existed in Manipur for centuries and moreover they have been granted ST status in 1950.