Kachin Hills


Kachin Hills

The Kachin Hills are a heavily forested group of highlands in the extreme northeastern of the Kachin State of Burma, inhabited by the Kachin or Chingpaw, who are known on the Assam frontier as Singphos. Owing to the great number of tribes, sub-tribes and clans of the Kachins, the part of the Kachin hills which has been taken under administration in the Myitkyina and Bhamo districts was divided into 40 Kachin hill tracts (since reduced to five). Beyond these tracts, there are many Kachins in Katha, Mong Mit and the northern Shan States. The country within the Kachin hill tracts is roughly estimated at 19,177 sq. mi., and consists of a series of ranges, for the most part running north and south, and intersected by valleys, all leading towards the Ayeyarwady River, which drains the country. There were 64,405 Kachins enumerated at the census of 1901. Philological investigations show that it is probable that the progenitors of the Kachins or Chingpaw were the Indo-Chinese race who, before the, beginnings of history, but after the Mon-Annam wave had covered Indo-China, forsook their home in western China to pour over the region where Tibet, Assam, Burma and China converge, and that the Chingpaw are the residue left round the headquarters of the Irrawaddy and the Chindwin after those branches, destined to become the Tibetans, the Nagas, the Burmans and the Kuki Chins, had gone westwards and southwards. In the middle of the 19th century, the southern limit of the Kachins was 200 mi. farther north than it is now. Since then the race has been drifting steadily southward and eastward, a vast aggregate of small independent clans united by no common government, but all obeying a common impulse to move outwards from their original seats along the line of least resistance. Now the Kachins are on both sides of the border of upper Burma, and are a force to be reckoned with by frontier administrators. According to the Kachin Hill Tribes Regulation of 1895, administrative responsibility is accepted by the British government on the left bank of the Irrawaddy for the country south of the Nmaikha, and on the right bank for the country south of a line drawn from the confluence of the Malikha and Nmaikha through the northern limit of the Laban district and including the jade mines. The tribes north of this line were told that if they abstained from raiding to the south of it they would not be interfered with. South of that line peace was to be enforced and a small tribute exacted, with a minimum of interference in-their private affairs.

On the British side of the border, the chief objects have been the disarmament of the tribes and the construction of frontier and internal roads. A light tribute is exacted. The Kachins have been the object of many police operations and two regular expeditions: (I) Expedition of 1892-93. Bhamo was occupied by the British on December 28, 1885, and almost immediately, trouble began. Constant punitive measures were carried on by the military police; but in December 1892, a police column proceeding to establish a post at Sima was heavily attacked, and simultaneously the town of Myitkyina was raided by Kachins. A force of 1200 troops was sent to put down the rising. The enemy received their final blow at Palap, but not before three officers were killed, three wounded and 102 sepoys and followers killed and wounded. (2) Expedition of 1895-96. The continued misconduct of the Sana Kachins from beyond the administrative border rendered punitive measures necessary. They had remained unpunished since the attack on Myitkyina in December 1892. Two columns were sent up, one of 250 rifles from Myitkyina, the other of 200 rifles from Mogaung, marching in December 1895. The resistance was insignificant, and the operations were completely successful. A strong force of military police was stationed at Myitkyina, with several outposts in the Kachin hills.

Burma relinquished the eastern villages of Gawlam, Hpimaw, and Kanfang to the Chinese in 1960, ending the political boundary dispute. Although the area had been granted much autonomy under the 1947 constitution, the Burma government has since integrated it into the rest of the country.

References

*1911


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