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6 minor tribes in Manipur are Nagas: NSCN (I-M)

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    2nd Jun, 2023

Context

Amid the unrest in Manipur, the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland or NSCN (I-M) has claimed that six minor tribes in the State are Nagas.

Background

  • Manipur, a hill state in North East India, is currently experiencing violent ethnic clashes between tribal and non-tribal residents.
  • Both the Meitei (Manipuris) and Kuki tribes have been subjected to attacks, leading to escalating tensions.
  • The recent outbreak of violence can be attributed to the Meitei community's demand for inclusion in the state's Scheduled Tribes (STs) list.
    • The Meiteis have long sought ST status due to economic and cultural reasons.
    • They argue that despite being recognized as a tribe by the British alongside Nagas and Kukis, they were not granted ST status when the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 was enacted.

Key-points made by NSCN (I-M)

  • Six minor tribes are Aimol, Chiru, Chothe, Kharam, Koireng, and Kom.
  • They are part of the Naga community and have been actively involved in the Nagas’ political struggle for their freedom from India and Myanmar till our goal is achieved.

Three communities— Meiteis, Nagas and Kukis— account for much of Manipur’s population. While the Meiteis include the Pangals, who are Muslims, many tribes are clubbed either as Nagas or Kukis.

Understanding the Demographic Background of Manipur’s tribes

Who are Nagas?

  • Nagas in Manipur refers to a collection of tribes that live North of the Imphal valley.
  • These communities form a cultural continuum with the Meiteis that extends to the Naga tribes further North into Nagaland and Assam.
  • There are 16 major tribes such as Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khemungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sema, Yimchunger and Zeliang.
  • Of these, the Zeliangrong Nagas who inhabit the Tamenglong district exhibit the closest cultural links with the Meiteis.

Who are Meiteis?

Apart from Meiteis, there is another community which is the epithet of “Manipuri” — the Bishnupriya Manipuri.

  • Manipur’s population has evolved through several waves of immigration from groups originating from both East and West of the region.
  • The origin of the state’s diverse population to be primarily of the Tibeto-Burman stock.
  • Meiteis (also called Manipuris) are the most numerous of all the ethnic groups in the state and largely inhabit the fertile Imphal valley that sits at the centre of the state.
  • Meiteis were originally a set of four different tribes — Khuman, Luwang, Moirang and Meitei.

Who are Kukis?

  • Kukis in the state (called Khongjais in Meiteilon) refers to the Chin tribes that inhabit the Southern Hills and the Kangpokpi region in the Northern Hills.
  • They are culturally closer to the Mizos of Mizoram and the Chin tribes of Myanmar. They are relatively much later migrants to the state compared to the Nagas and the Meiteis.

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