Kuki and Zomi Group
- 23 Nov 2019
- 3 min read
The Government of India is looking at concluding peace talks with the 23 Kuki and Zomi groups in Manipur.
- Manipur was a princely state before merging with the Indian Union on 15th October 1949. It has been inhabited by ethnic communities including Nagas, Kukis and Meiteis.
- Merger of Manipur and the delay in the conferring of full fledged statehood (granted in 1972) to it was greatly resented by the people of Manipur.
- Separate aspirations and perceived insecurity regarding overlapping claims over natural resources led various ethnic communities move apart.
- Following ethnic clashes between the Nagas and Kukis in the early 1990s, a number of Kuki outfits were formed as a means to counter Naga hegemony and assertion. Consequently, Kuki National Front (KNF) was formed in 1998.
- The areas in Manipur which National Socialist Council of Nagalim-Issac Muivah - NSCN - IM (formed in 1988) is demanding be merged with Nagaland as part of greater Nagalim included large areas of Kuki inhabitancy.
- Meanwhile, Zomi Reunification Army (ZRA) was formed in 1997 whose objective is to protect the interests of the Paite community from the 'onslaught of any community or group'.
- However in 2008, 20 militant groups related to Kukis and Zomis under two umbrella organizations, Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United People’s Front (UPF) signed Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreement with the Government of India and Government of Manipur. The agreement aims to discuss demands put forward by the extremist groups and bring peace in Manipur.
Ethnic Communities in Manipur
- The people of Manipur are grouped into three main ethnic communities - Meiteis those inhabiting the valley and 29 major tribes in the hills dividing into two main ethno-denominations, namely Nagas and Kuki-Chins.
- The Naga group consists of Zeliangrong, Tangkhul, Mao, Maram, Maring and Tarao.
- The Chin-Kuki group consists of Gangte, Hmar, Paite, Thadou, Vaiphei, Zou, Aimol, Chiru, Koireng, Kom, Anal, Chothe, Lamgang, Koirao, Thangal, Moyon and Monsang.
- The term Chin is used for the people in the neighboring Chin state of Myanmar whereas Chins are called Kukis in the Indian side. Other groups like Paite, Zou, Gangte, and Vaiphei identify themselves as Zomi and have distanced themselves from the name, Kuki.
- It should be noted that all the different ethnic groups are of the same Mongoloid group, and have very close similarities in their culture and traditional habits.
- However, Meiteis differ culturally from the surrounding hill tribes by following Hindu customs.
- The legend of all tribes including Meiteis claim that they originated somewhere in the north from a cave.