Breaking the spirit of the Kukis: launching the ‘largest series of military operations’ in the northeastern frontier of India

in J. Guite & T. Haokip (eds.). The Anglo-Kuki War, 1917-1919: A Frontier Uprising against Imperialism during the First World War. London/New Delhi: Routledge, 2018, 93-117. DOI:

At the imperial margin of British India, the Assam Rifles and Burma Military Police fought a resistance war by the Kukis between 1917 and 1919 for the colonial government. In this ‘largest series of military operations conducted’ in the Northeast frontier, different strategies were adopted in two stages by the military forces at a stretch of three years to suppress the uprising. The initial policy of selective elimination of the rebel Kuki chiefs did not work out, as the Kukis did not confront the British in a battleground but chose guerilla warfare and the masses were behind their leaders. To counter guerilla warfare, different unconventional tactics were deployed by the regular army against an irregular force in which the punitive measures were brutal. This chapter will show that the uprising was brutally suppressed after a well-thought-out scheme to break the morale of the Kukis, and in doing so they would never rise again.

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