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Paite people

Total population
c. 80,000+[1][2]
Regions with significant populations
Manipur, Chin State, Assam, Mizoram
Paite language
Related ethnic groups

The Paite people[a] are an ethnic group in Northeast India, mainly living in Manipur and Mizoram. The Paites are recognized as a scheduled tribe in these two states.[7] They are part of the Kuki-Zo people,[8] but prefer to use the Zomi identity.[9][10][11] "Guite" is a major clan of the Paite people.[8]


According to anthropologist H. Kamkhenthang, the term "Paite" was initially used only in the Lushai areas (present-day Mizoram, and possibly the Churachandpur district of Manipur). In the Chin Hills region, according to him, they were known as Tedim Chins, and they included the Kamhau-Suktes.[5][12] According to scholar N. K. Das, the Simte people listed in the Gazetteer of Manipur are the same as Paites.[13] Ethnologue states that the Paite, Simte and Tedim Zomi dialects are almost identical.[14] However, the Government of India recognises the Paites and Simtes as separate tribes in the list of Scheduled Tribes.[15] In the 2001 census of India, the Paites numbered 64,100 and the Simtes numbered 10,225 (by language use).[2]

In the British colonial records, Paites were often identified by the clan name of Guite (older spelling: "Nwite"), who provided the chiefs for the Paite people. Carey and Tuck state that the Guites used to be originally settled around Tedim, but migrated north to the southern border of Manipur and the northeast corner of Mizoram. The reason was evidently the onslaught of the Sukte chieftain Khan Thuam ("Kantum", the father of Kam Hau). Some of the Guites submitted to Khan Thuam and eventually got absorbed into the Suktes, while others migrated north to settle in the present-day Tonzang Township and the adjoining parts of Churachandpur and Chandel districts, which were at that time not part of the Manipur kingdom.[16]


In Manipur, the Paites number about 55,000 as of 2018, forming 1.94 percent of the state's population.[1] They are concentrated in the Churachandpur district and dominate the Churachandpur Town (locally known as Lamka). The Paite language is considered the lingua franca of the town.[3] The Paites are believed to be the most recent entrants into Manipur from Chin Hills, some stating that they moved after World War II.[17]

In the Churachandpur area, Paites have local organisations such the Paite Tribe Council, Young Paite Association, Paite Literature Society and Siamsinpawlpi (SSPP, students' welfare body). They mostly follow the Christian faith, with the majority belonging to the Evangelical Baptist Convention Church.[7]

Paites were part of the Kuki National Assembly (KNA) formed in 1946,[18] but soon intra-tribal rivalries took over and the majority of the tribes moved out of KNA to form a rival Khulmi National Union (also called "Khul Union").[19][20][21][b] The essential point of tension was the apprehension that the Thadou Kukis, who are much more numerous than the other tribes in Manipur, would dominate the KNA.[19] The Khulmi National Union contested the legislative assembly elections in 1948 and won seven seats. It participated in government formation, which was however short-lived due to Manipur's merger with Indian Union.[22]

"Khulmi" was meant to be an alternative identity to rival the Kuki identity, but the Government of India gave recognition to the Kuki identity, by listing "Any Kuki tribe" in the list of Scheduled Tribes in 1951.[22] Subsequently, many of the Old Kuki tribes in the Khul Union moved towards the Naga identity, and the seven larger tribes led by Paites stood alone.[23] In 1995, these seven tribes chose the Zomi identity and formed the Zomi Re-unification Organisation (ZRO) at the instance of the Paites.[24]

During 1997–1998, there was an ethnic clash between the Paites and Thadou-speaking Kuki tribes in the Churachandpur district, which saw 352 people dead and thousands displaced, but a peace agreement was reached in the end. On this occasion, an underground militant wing of ZRO, called the "Zomi Reunification Army" or "Zomi Revolution Army" (ZRA), was formed.[25][26][c] According to security expert E. N. Rammohan, the Paites were not well-armed and took a beating in the clashes. ZRA fled across the border to Myanmar, where it formed an alliance with the Naga militant group NSCN-IM.[26]

Paites also dominate the underground group United People's Front (UPF).[11]


In Mizoram, the Paites numbered about 23,000 as of 2011.[1] They are found living in more than 20 villages spread across 4 districts, namely Saitual district, Champhai district, Aizawl district and Khawzawl district.[27]

The Paites living in the region "Sialkal Tangdung" are given a special administration in aid to develop and uplift the local areas called the Sialkal Range Development Council (SRDC). Mimbung, Teikhang, Hiangmun, Kawlbem, Selam and Vaikhawtang villages are included in it.[citation needed]

SRDC was first set up as the Sialkal Tlangdung Development Board by the Government of Mizoram in February 2012. It was changed to a Council in 2013.[28]

See also


  1. ^ Alternative spellings: Paitei,[3] Paithe,[4] Paihte.[5] Older spellings: "Pytai".[6]
  2. ^ "Khulmi" meant the people of the cave origin, referring to the originary myth shared by all Kuki-Chin tribes.
  3. ^ There is another organisation named "Zomi Revolutionary Army" in the Chin State of Myanmar, formed by Tedim Chins.

Further reading

  • Kamkhenthang, H (1989). Folk Songs of The Paite. Directorate for Dev. of Tribals and Backward Classes, Manlpur.


  1. ^ a b c "Religion Data of Census 2011: XXXI Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland". Centre for Policy Studies. 18 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Census of India - Language tools". Census of India. Archived from the original on 3 July 2014.
  3. ^ a b Guite & Vualzong, Paitei Tribe of Churachandpur (2018), p. 334.
  4. ^ Ethnologue, 15th Edition (2005), p. 358.
  5. ^ a b Kamkhenthang, The Paite (1988), pp. 7–8.
  6. ^ Brown, R. (1874), Statistical Account of the Native State of Manipur and the Hill Territory under Its Rule, Calcutta: Office of the Superintendent of Government Printing, p. 56
  7. ^ a b Guite & Vualzong, Paitei Tribe of Churachandpur (2018), pp. 334–335.
  8. ^ a b Zou, Patriots and Utilitarians in the Anglo-Kuki War (2021), pp.159–160: "... the backdrop of a triangular contest between three dialectal groups – the Zou (led by Manlun chiefs), the Paite (led by Guite chiefs) and the Thadou (led by Haokip chiefs). In colonial records, all the three groups were known as ‘new Kukis’ because of their linguistic and cultural affinities."
  9. ^ Choudhury, Sanghamitra (2016), Women and Conflict in India, Routledge, pp. 38–39, ISBN 9781317553625, Local Paitei preferred to be called 'Zomi', whereas the local Thadous preferred to be called 'Kukis'.
  10. ^ Haokip, The Kuki-Paite Conflict (2007), p. 191: "In 1995, the name of the 'Seven Tribes' in Churachandpur district was changed to “Zomi Re-unification Organization (ZRO)” at the initiative of the Paite.".
  11. ^ a b Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty, Fears Over Land, Identity Fuel Manipur's Bonfire of Anxieties, The Wire, 9 September 2016.
  12. ^ "Former residents of Paite Veng recount their 'Kristallnacht'". The Times of India. 25 July 2023. Retrieved 11 March 2024.
  13. ^ Das, Politics of 'Belonging' Among Zomi-Chin-Kuki People (2021), pp. 225–226.
  14. ^ Ethnologue, 15th Edition, SIL International, 2005, Entry for "Zome", (p. 467) – via
  15. ^ Kipgen, Nehginpao (October–December 2011), "Ethnic Conflict in India: A Case Study of the Kukis and the Nagas in Manipur", The Indian Journal of Political Science, 72 (4): 1048, JSTOR 41856539
  16. ^ Carey & Tuck, The Chin Hills (1896), pp. 140–141.
  17. ^ Haokip, The Kuki-Paite Conflict (2007), p. 188.
  18. ^ Haokip, Genesis of Kuki Autonomy Movement (2012), pp. 53–54.
  19. ^ a b Kipgen, Ethnic Conflict in India (2011), p. 1049.
  20. ^ Ranjit Singh & Thomas, Ethnic movements of the small tribes of Manipur (2001), pp. 10–11.
  21. ^ Lal Dena, Lal Robul Pudaite, Colonial Divide In Manipur: Tracing The Journey Of State Between 1835 And 1947, Outlook, 4 September 2023.
  22. ^ a b W. Nabakumar, Ethnic relationship of different communities in Manipur, Kukiforum blog, 27 August 2007.
  23. ^ Haokip, The Kuki-Paite Conflict (2007), p. 190.
  24. ^ Haokip, The Kuki-Paite Conflict (2007), p. 191.
  25. ^ Choudhury, Sanghamitra (2016), Women and Conflict in India, Routledge, pp. 38–39, ISBN 9781317553625
  26. ^ a b Rammohan, E. N. (April–June 2002), "Blue Print for Counterinsurgency in Manipur", The Journal of the United Services Institution of India, CXXXII
  27. ^ "A-11 Appendix: District wise scheduled tribe population (Appendix)".
  28. ^ "Brief History of Sialkal Range Development Council". Retrieved 2023-11-04.
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Paite people
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