In this quaint hamlet in Mon district in the northwestern part of Nagaland, people of the Konyak tribe have accepted that, unlike other Indians, they can have dual allegiance — peacefully. For, the Lungwa village chief, Loknang, “dines in India and sleeps in Myanmar”.
Officially, although the borders can be crossed only at some particular points, for the 5,000 people of the village, the Saigang division of Myanmar is very much part of their world.
The international line between India and Myanmar passes through the middle of the village and divides Loknang’s hut where he lives with his 10 wives and 20 children. Aching Konyak, a village youth, said, “The boundary line demarcates his kitchen and the bedroom.”
In fact, till 1963, there was no specific authority ruling the Konyak-inhabited areas of Nagaland. It was only after India and Myanmar decided on the border that the Konyak tribesmen had an idea that they might be part of India, and not Myanmar.
But still, despite a border pillar atop the Lungwa range since 1970-71, the Konyak villagers visit Pangmei, a border town in Myanmar, everyday on business.
Minphong Konyak, joint secretary of the Konyak Union, said, “We don’t recognise boundaries here and it would be good, if there are no border pillars.”
The Konyaks’ sense of belonging to both the countries is so strong that they are equally friendly with the Assam Rifles border guards and the Myanmar armymen.
“Even two of my sons are serving in the Myanmar army,” village chief Loknang told visiting mediapersons. He said the Nagaland government, however, was spending money on development projects in the village, particularly for agriculture.
Minphong Konyak said the Konyak population in Nagaland was less than that in Myanmar and the total population of the tribe spread over India and Myanmar would be more than 20 lakh.