The Kuki Tribes of Meghalaya: A Study of their Socio – Political Problems


The Kukis are ethnic group that
spread throughout the
Northeastern region of India,
Northwest Burma and
Chittagong Hill Tracts in
Bangladesh. In Northeast India they are present in all the states
except Arunachal Pradesh. This
dispersal across international
borders is mainly attributed to
the British colonial policy. The
term ‘Kuki’ is a Bengali word meaning ‘hill people’ or
‘highlander’. According to Lt.
Colonel Shakespeare (The
Lushai Kuki Clans, Part I,
London, 1912) the term ‘Kuki’
has a definite meaning and include Aimol, Chothe, Chiru,
Koireng, Kom, Purum, Anal,
Lamkang, Moyon, Monsang,
Gangte, Vaiphei, Simte, Paite,
Thadou, Hmar, Zou etc. G.A.
Grierson in Linguistic Survey of India, 1967 stated that the
tribes connoted by Kuki are able
to understand another’s dialect.
Recognising the common
ethnicity and identity of the
Kukis, the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950
of the Government of India
placed all the Kukis under ‘Any
Kuki Tribes’ in the states of
Assam, Manipur, Tripura,
Mizoram, and Meghalaya. Due to the various
movements for separate
administrative units based on
ethnicity, Nagaland, Meghalaya
and Mizoram were carved out
of Assam. The creation of new administrative units deprived
the Kukis much of their political
interests. Nevertheless they
have been living cordially with
the majority communities. Such
is the case of the Kuki tribes in Meghalaya. When Meghalaya
was carved out from Assam by
the Assam Reorganisation
(Meghalaya) Act 1969, the
various Kukis living in the then
United Khasi-Jaintia Hills district became indigenous tribes of
Meghalaya. Even though a
minority, the Kukis in
Meghalaya are not negligible in
terms of their population. In
this essay a brief history of Meghalaya, its social
composition and the various
governmental policies affecting
the minority Kukis are analysed.

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