The Kuki tribe is spread across states of the North East, parts of Myanmar and the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. They are majorly found in Manipur(Imphal Valley) with other states of North Eastern India.⁣

During World War I, the British were recruiting thousands of people from its empires to assist them in the war effort. The Nagas, were pressed into service as part of the Imperial Army’s Labour Corps, a vast body of men recruited to build roads, carry luggage and provide other kinds of logistical support.⁣

In January 1917, the British Indian government had ordered the Maharaja of Manipur to supply non-combatants to serve in the “Great War” and the Manipur king promised 2,000 men. While several hundred were recruited from the Valley, the Kukis refused to comply and the various tribal chiefs held a series of conclaves. ⁣

In March 1917, four chiefs from the tribe performed a ritual sacrifice that declared war. They were led by a fifth chief, Tintong, who became commander of the Kuki warriors.⁣

The conflict that followed lasted for two years and claimed many lives. It has been variously called the “Great Kuki Rebellion”, the “Kuki Rising”, the “Anglo-Kuki War” and the “Zou Gaal”. ⁣

In two years of battle, it is said, there were short, sharp clashes between British troops and Kuki contingents. Some of these were face to face encounters but Kuki warriors also made use of guerrilla warfare tactics.⁣

In the end, Kuki militias were outnumbered and worn down by the constant flow of British troops into the region. Kuki chiefs and leaders were jailed or exiled and the British launched a policy of “disarming” the martial tribe.⁣

Colonial writers filed it away as a “rebellion” against enlisting in the Labour Corps but “native scholars termed it a war of independence”. ⁣

The British said that, at one of the meetings in which the Kuki chiefs prepared for war, they declared this: “at all cost, we should fight against the British for the preservation of our independence, for the protection of our land, culture and tradition”.⁣

P.S., ‘Mim Kut’ is the main festival of the Kuki tribe.