The Anal Naga Tangpi (ANTA), the apex socio-political body of the Anal Naga community, has issued a “stern warning” to any individual or group “involved in displaying” Anal traditional clothes during Kut and other festivals.
In a press release, the ANTA alleged that, in the previous years, the Kukis had used Anal traditional clothes displayed “on the backdrop of the stage like their assets without the permission and consent” of the Anal apex body. ANTA reminded the Kuki Inpi Manipur (KIM) and the State Level Kut Festival Celebration Committee and the Kuki community at large not to repeat “such insulting gesture during a joyous” state level festival like Chavang Kut. ANTA also appealed to the Government of Manipur to look into “such provocative attitudes” of a certain community against the wishes of “the other and to tarnish” history which would fan “tensions” in the state of Manipur. “Enough is enough: we will not tolerate this insult anymore. Any Anal blood going against this communiqué will be ostracized from the community without warning,” the Anal body warned.
It then said that many other societies, whose means of livelihood depend on cultivation, observe post harvest festivals according to their cultures and practice a new harvest offering to their gods. According to the ANTA, in the olden days, Anals celebrated Chavan Kumhrin as an autumnal post harvest festival in the village level with rituals and offerings performed by Kholpu, a village priest. It also said that, only after conversion to Christianity, pastors replaced the village priests to thank and bless the offered seeds and crops being brought by the villagers in the church.
It then said, “In the year 1970, youths of surrounding Anal villages of district headquarters of Chandel jointly celebrated the festival in a grand manner at Chandel Christian village”. It further said the youths then organized themselves as Demand Committee and appealed to the Government of Manipur for recognition of the festival. “The then Deputy Commissioner, Chandel, Pu Lalringa, IAS, witnessed the grand event and was deeply impressed by the cultural activities and dances performed by the youths in the celebration. As such, he along with his Assistant Commissioner, Shri. Ch.Birendra, MCS, greatly contributed in declaring the 23rd of October as a restricted district holiday in the year 1978 vide order no. DC/TPL/03/14/78. This celebration is also practiced by our neighboring tribes including Lamkang, Moyon, Monsang, Maring, Chothe, Tarao, Aimol etc.,” the ANTA added.
The press statement then said Anal is one of the oldest tribes in the “present state of Manipur” compactly settled in the south-eastern parts of Manipur and in the Tamu area of the Sagaing Region of Burma (Myanmar). It further said Anals are also known as “Anan Namphou” according to the Ancient Royal Chronicle of Manipur, ‘Cheitharol Kumbaba’. “According to this chronicle, the Meitei Kings used to attack the Anal villages on many occasions. Later, around 1820, the Kamhous (Sukte Kukis) started to infiltrate into the jungles of the Anal domain and attacked Lamphou Charu (Anan Namphou) village. The village was reduced to cinders: so many men including women and children were taken as prisoners of war to Burma (Myanmar),” the press release also stated. “Amongst the captives was a nine year old boy RT.Benal Anal, ‘a Naga from Manipur’ as mentioned in the ‘The Chin Hill’ Vol.2.p.16(1987),” it added. The ANTA also said Anals had never been under any foreign domination not by consent nor by conquest since time immemorial. It added that the land records issued by the “President Manipur State Darbar” and other competent authorities proved the legitimate ownership by Anal villages over their ancestral land.
“Unlike the Kukis, Anals erect stone megaliths as their customary practice and their deaths were buried in common graveyards according to their clans,” the press note of ANTA said. “Only two distinct major clans ‘Moshum and Mulchal’ can have inter-marriage. The youngest son inherits the lion share of property of his parents. The headman or chief of a village is elected by the villagers and not hereditary,” the ANTA added.
According to the press statement, since 1835, the Chasad Kukis under the leadership of Ngulsung, Ngulbul and K.Sahumpa “freely” came and started settling in this part of Chandel district. In the wake of the WWI (1914-19), majority of the strong males of Anal villages had joined the Manipur labor corps, the ANTA also said. “The Kukis opposed the labour corps of the British and took arms popularly known as Kuki rebellion. In the absence of the able males to protect the villages, the Kukis committed barbaric untold atrocities upon the helpless Anal people. Anal villages were looted and plundered simply because they opposed the rebellion,” the ANTA further said. “As a result, the Anals were evacuated and given protection at Chingmeirong, Imphal and Chandel Christian concentration camps being arranged by the Britishers. Adding to their hardships and miseries, cholera, dysentery and typhoid epidemic broke out at Chingmeirong camp and many lives were lost unattended”, it added.
According to the ANTA, soon after WWII broke out, the Kukis extended their co-operation to the I.N.A. but the Anals remained pro-British under the leadership of Maj.R.Khathing, Special V. Force of Indian Army. It also said that about 393 (three hundred ninety three) Anal volunteers joined the V-Force starting from 1942. “When, the Manipur Naga Council was formed on October 22, 1957 at Ukhrul, KL.Angnal Anal of Hnatham village, Chandel was unanimously elected its first president,” it added.
The ANTA then said Anal is neither “Old Kuki nor New Kuki”. It further said that the Kukis’ claim of Anal as “Old Kuki” is historically and culturally incorrect and concocted as the “Old Kukis on record in 1853 were Khelema, Ranthai, Bete and Lamkhron. Any Kuki-Chin-Mizo organizations formed since 1933 did not include Anal in their group”. Therefore, ANTA said that inscription of “Anal tribe” as one of the Kukis on the stone of “Pathen Tonsot Songpi” in an undisclosed spot is a “brainless and serious crime against humanity in modern world”. Recently, according to the ANTA, the Anals were clubbed into Kuki fold as a “tool” to serve their political agenda to claim over the vast land of the Anals in the south-eastern part of Manipur.