Merger Of Manipur With The Dominion Of India

Before the British came to India, the land was a very much divided country, a land then not existing under a unified or unitary sovereign Government but a vast land of conglomeration of different domains and principalities called kingdoms and states (later on named native states), big and small, with so many culturally, ethnically and linguistically varied and divided groups of indigenous peoples under their own hereditary rules and chiefs, in the names of Maharajas, Rajas, Nawabs, Dewans, Zamindars, Jagirdars and Emperor.

The British landed in India in the year 1608 AD firstly at Surat, one of the richest sea ports on its west coast, as ordinary traders, in the name of ‘British East India Company‘ who had been granted on 31 December 1600 by Queen Elizabeth I a charter with rights of exclusive trading for 15 years to the ‘Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies’.

The British people who so landed as very ordinary traders initially consolidated their power in due course of time, and with their better skill and supremacy in arms and diplomacy, became the overlords and invincible rulers of the vast and much divided country by expanding their power gradually for which they took the fullest advantage of the ‘disunity’ that were there amongst the indigenous peoples, who by then, were living not as a unified and strong nation as such, though majority of them had been somehow brought under the rising great Mughal power established at Delhi from the times of Babur and his son, Akbar, the great during the 16th/17th centuries till it came to an end from 1707 AD onwards with the death of their last and weak Emperor, Aurangazeb.

The power so established by the British East India Company in the vast and much divided land during the period of some two and half centuries came under the direct control of the British crown by an Act passed in the British Parliament with effect from August 2, 1858 under the name ‘The Government of India Act‘, with full power and responsibilities for the Government and Revenues of India vested on one of Her Majesty’s secretaries of States due to the effect of a great and widespread ‘Indian Revolt’ known as ‘Sepoy Mutiny of 1857‘ that had flared up against the misruling of the company over several aspects.

The great frustrations and discontent of the people had been accumulating for long which culminated at the aforesaid time with a violent burst. The British Government thus continued to rule over the vast country directly under their crown in the name of ‘British India’, including that of the land of a large area in the east annexed by them on 1 January 1886 known as the kingdom of Burma (now Myanmar) ruled by king Thibaw, till year 1935-36 when it was separated as a different unit (Dominion) under their rule.

The direct ruling of the British Crown over the country was done through a representative known as the Viceroy of India with his capital shifted to New Delhi from being earlier at Calcutta (now Kolkata), founded by Job Charnock of the company in the year 1696 on the ‘marshy village called Sutanati’ after the failure of the company to take nearby port Chittagong by force in 1686. The British thus had been ruling over the country with unchallengeable mighty powers, for the establishment of which the credit really goes to Robert Clive, who began his service in the East India Company as a mere clerk but who subsequently rose to higher military ranks by his hard works and exemplary valor displayed in the crucial battles taken place between the force of the company and the outnumbering local force and ultimately became the Governor of the Presidency of Bengal annexed and ruled by the Company.

However, they (the British) had to part with their paramount power so acquired quite dearly, as was inevitably compelled to do so under the rapidly rising national and international political heavy pressures that had been exerting on them since 1929/30s which reached the highest peaks in the year 1946 and 1947 i.e. immediately after the end of the Second World War.

Therefore, as a result of an Act passed in the British Parliament under the Premiership of Clement Richard Attlee of the Labor Party under the name ‘the Indian Independence Act, 1947‘ they ultimately relinquished their ‘imperial power’ at midnight of the 14th August by handing over to the interim Government headed by a Governor-General, Lord Louis Mountbatten, later on succeeded soon by CR Rajagopalachari under an interim Constituent Assembly which soon enacted and adopted a new Constitution for the independent country and it became a Republic from the day of the 26th January 1950 onwards with Dr Rajendra Prasad elected as its first President and Jawaharlal Nehru as the first Prime Minister.

The handing over of the Sovereign power to the interim Government was done at midnight of the 14th August 1947 as it was considered to be a day more auspicious than the day of the 15th of August 1947, a day and date for the occasion recommended by Mountbatten and approved by the British Prime Minister, CR Attlee.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the leader of the interim Constituent Assembly thus hit upon a compromise by calling the sitting of the Constituent Assembly in the midnight and thus took over the power immediately after the ‘zero hour’ of the day thus serving both the purposes of observing the ‘auspiciousness’ of the day as fixed by the learned Hindu astrologers according to Hindu calendar, and also fully conforming to the date fixed by the British authorities, for the British system the day of the 15th August 1947 begins immediately after the midnight of the 14th of August 1947 which, for the Indian system, continues to be the day of it still till the ‘Suryaudai’ – the ‘Sun-rise’ of the 15th morning.

While the people of the land rejoiced on their becoming a nation of a free and independent sovereign country it was shrouded in deep feelings of great sadness because the great land, which was once existing as a vast domain of a singular country, known as ‘Bharat-Varsha’ had been divided into two separate dominions of independent countries named, India and Pakistan, the former being a ‘Secular State’ and the later a country purely of Muslim religion. To the Pakistanis they prefer India to be called always by the name ‘Hindustan’, most probably with an aim to subvert its well laid down spirit of being always a secular country.

The two independent Dominions of Countries were so born as an immediate outcome or result of the Act passed in the British Parliament under the name of Indian Independence Act, 1947 as had been mentioned earlier. Their creations were done as per provision laid down in the first para of the Act of which the ‘seeds for the division’ had already been ‘sown’ from the time of Viceroy, Minto of the much earlier period (from November 1905 to November 1910), according to whose reforms introduced under an Act known as Government of India Act, 1909 separate electorates from the Muslims in the country had been provided to serve the purpose of ‘divide and rule’ policy of the British for weakening the ‘oneness’ of the Indian people for their going against them for achieving their demand of ‘full independence’ for the country as one.

The Act so passed allowed all the Native States, some 500-600 in number, then existing in semi-independent status, till then to ‘opt’ for joining with ‘Either’ of the two dominions by merging along with their contiguous neighboring provinces, or to remain as a separate state within the dominion, if considered ‘viable’ to do so from the political, financial and other essential points of views, and as such all of them at once joined and merged in the Dominion of India smoothly and quite peacefully by absorbing into their contiguous neighboring provinces except the States of Hyderabad, Kashmir, Benares, Tripura and Manipur.

In the case of the former two giant States, they were merged after they were forced to do so as a result of swift and unchallengeable military actions taken by the mighty Indian Army in the pretext of taking internal police actions, in the case of Hyderabad, and in the case of Kashmir, after a brief spell of war taken place with Pakistan who most aggressively intruded and assisted their tribesmen in their sudden raid carried out on the State, which by then was under the independent ruling of a Hindu King over a vast majority of Muslim subjects and the king who, greatly alarmed by their rapid aggression fully backed by Pakistan Army, at once ‘acceded’ his kingdom to the Indian Union and sought the immediate military assistance of the Government of India and thus the action of the Indian Army had been taken till it was stopped by an intervention directed from the United Nations after which the State became recognized as a fully merged State within the Dominion of India minus a large area on the western sector that had been forcibly occupied by Pakistan as a part of their Dominion being known as the ‘occupied Kashmir’ for which the dispute between the two dominions of India and Pakistan is still dragging on unsettled.

In fact, the dispute very adamantly raised still by Pakistan is on the issue of claiming the entire State of Kashmir to be acceded to her on the basis of having its vast majority of Muslim population like that of having a majority of Hindu population in the case of Hyderabad under a Muslim ruler, the Nizam.

The accession of Kashmir done by its Hindu Maharaja was immediately ratified by Sheikh Abdullah, leader of the All Jammu and Kashmir National Conference, an organization who enjoyed popular support. Sheikh Abdullah became the Prime Minister, a special status, of the merged State of Kashmir and in November 1956 its Constituent Assembly legalized her status as being the ‘de facto’ integral part of the dominion of India. Had it not been due to the timely, swift and highly commendable service and action of the gallant troops of the Indian army, particularly of the Air-borne troops under the command of the most able and well know, Brigadier Thimaya, Kashmir would have been, perhaps in the map of Pakistan by now, and in that case what could have been the actual ‘scenario’ of relationship in between the two countries by now, particularly in their spirits of ‘hostilities’ is the ‘billion dollar’ question that keeps everyone highly guessing and wondering.

The accession of Hyderabad, the biggest State in India, with the India union, was not effected without bloodshed. The State with a Muslim ruler and a large majority of Hindu population, just the opposite to that of Kashmir, entered into a year’s stand-still agreement with the Indian Union on 29 November, 1947. As a result of the Agreement, Indian troops were withdrawn, but the Hyderabad police force and the local Razakar troops under Syed Kasim Razvi took complete control over the civil population.

Moreover, the Nizam demanded an outlet to the sea and the port of his choice was Goa. The Government of India tried to persuade Hyderabad to immediately accede to the Indian Union and accordingly prepared a Draft Agreement for that purpose. The growing violence of the Razakar troops in Hyderabad and smuggling of arms from foreign Governments precipitated a great crisis. The Government of India demanded the immediate disbandment of the Razakar troops and the deployment of the Indian troops at Secunderabad. But the Nizam, who had sought intervention of the United Nations, refused to accept these terms.

Consequently, the Indian troops under Major General JN Choudhury of the cavalry marched into Hyderabad on 13 Sept, 1948 and had very ably and promptly diffused the critical situation that was developing quite alarmingly. The Government of India declared that it was not an act of ‘war’ but purely a ‘police action’, intended to restore peace and order in the State. Kasim Razvi was arrested, the Razakar organization was dissolved, and the Nizam submitted. Eventually Hyderabad acceded to India in November 1949. As for the two small States, namely Benares and Tripura, they quite tamely came in within the Dominion of India with effect from 15 October, 1949 along with Manipur for which they had already and smoothly signed the merger agreement on 5 and 9 September respectively.

Thus Manipur, though small in her physical territory, was the last native State which remained unsettled, just as she was the last native State conquered by the Mighty British, as she had presented some but quite delicate issue and problems in regard to her smooth and immediate merger to the newly established independent Congress led Government of India under the Premiership of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallavbhai Patel as the Union Home Minister. The then King of the State, Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh, the eldest son of Maharaja Sir Churachand Singh, KSCI CBE Knight Commander Star of India Commander British Empire) took over the ‘reins’ of the independent sovereign power from GP Stewart, the Political Agent who was earlier President Manipur State Darbar (Chief Minister’s rank) under the Maharaja and succeeded Christopher Gimson, ICS of the erstwhile British Government, signed the withdrawal and handling over document on behalf of the British Crown and handed over to Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh on the 14th of August 1947 at midnight at the official room of the Imphal British Residency, now the Imphal Raj Bhavan.

In this regard, there is an interesting episode happened, in that when Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh was conveyed of a message from the Political Agent for his (the Maharaja) coming over to the British residency for the little ceremony of the historic event to be performed, Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh, being of quite an adamant and obstinate character of not tolerating such insubordinate attitudes forthcoming from the subordinate types of authorities, at first was quite annoyed with and flatly refused to go to the British residency to keep-up his royal dignity of being the King of the State but later on, has been well convinced by the Political Agent who himself rushed up to the Imphal palace and offered his honest explanation saying that he could not carry out the power handling and taking over ceremony or function at the palace since he had to do it on behalf of the Viceroy and His Majesty, the King of the British Empire, and it was only after that Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh, fully convinced of the very delicate situation faced by the Political Agent, went to the British residency and took over the power from the political agent, GP Stewart who, of course, immediately after the short function was over, resumed paying his normal courtesies to the king of Manipur, which became again an independent kingdom as before from that very midnight of the 14th of August 1947 for which a very befitting function was organized at Kangla in the next morning of the 15th of August, 1947 with hoisting of Pakhangba embedded Manipur’s Royal Flag in place of the British Union Jack Flag which had since been flying high till that time at the Kangla Fort since the year 1891, April 27 when the State was compelled to come under the mighty British power as a result of its defeat suffered at their hands in the main battle taken place at Khongjom and its nearby areas where many of the heroes and great generals of Manipur, Yaiskul Lakpa along with his young son, Sengoi Sana, Paona Braja Bashi, Chongtham Mia, Yengkhoiba, Wangkhei Meiraba, Chinglen Sana etc most heroically sacrificed their lives for the defense of the integrity of their beloved age-old independent mother-land country.

Thus Manipur being free from the yoke of the British Power and had attained again the status of an Independent Sovereign States began in the right earnest to run her own administration, and in doing so, the first and immediate step that was very thoughtfully and rightly taken up was that the administration of the State was carried out in a ‘democratic line’ for which an Act named as the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947 was immediately drafted and got approved and according to which, in April 1948, the Manipur State Election Rules, 1948, was also adopted and accordingly election on the basis of ‘universal adult franchise’ for 53 Manipur State Assembly seats consisting of 30 for general, 18 for Hills, 3 for Mohammedans, 1 for Educational interest and 1 for Commercial interest was carried out in which were elected 14 from the Manipur State Congress, 18 independents from the Hills, 12 from the Manipur Praja Santi Sabha, 5 from the Manipur Krishak Sabha and 3 from the Socialist Party, and a new Council of Ministers comprised of Maharaj Kumar Priya Brata Singh as the Chief Minister and Home and Revenue portfolios, Arambam Ibotomcha Singh as the Finance Minister, Ayekpam Gourabidhu Singh, as Commerce and Industries Minister, Major R Khating, MBE, MC as Minister, Hill areas, Teba Kilong as Forest and Agriculture Minister and Md Alimuddin of Lilong as Jail and Medical Minister started functioning.

They recited the words ‘Chatloko hey! athouba, pukphaba, dharmac- henba, iningthou, nahakna chatkhibadi khunai asigi aroiba nummit takhib- anido etc’ – ‘hey noble and religious and courageous king of Manipur! We all bid ‘adieu’ to you on your great soul’s departure for the journey to heaven. Your departure from us do mark, indeed, the setting of the last monarchical sun of this hoary land’.

The cremation of Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh was delayed from the early morning to late dark evening quite unusually as the decision of the Government of India for his immediate successor was awaited which could not be decided and given by the then Chief Commissioner of Manipur, PC Matthew, ICS. The decision of succession came however in the late afternoon from New Delhi in a ‘crash’ wireless message flashed selecting his ‘legitimate eldest young son, Okendrajit Singh of some 5 years old, the younger brother of Princes Tamphasana Devi to succeed his late father as was decided and recommended in a decision taken in a very prolonged meeting held at the Chief Commissioner’s House after examining very thoroughly and carefully all the ‘nooks and corners’ of the very delicate issue that had come up in between the Chief Commissioner, PC Matthew, Maharaj Kumar Priya Brata Singh, ex-Chief Minister and Customs Secretary to His Highness the Maharaja, Waikhom Chaoba Singh, former Darbar Member (Minister) and was also the ‘guardian-tutor’ of Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh during the time of his yubrajship.

The Rajmata, Kamlavati Devi (Sangai Devi), the second Rani of Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh had been also made the ‘regent’ of the young and minor king duly assisted by a ‘court of ward’ headed by late Salam Tombi Singh, Member of the then Manipur Territorial Council and later on became Speaker of the Manipur Legislative Assembly and a Minister, for as per standing tradition of Manipur in regard to royal cremations, it cannot be carried out unless the name of a successor of the deceased king is announced and made publicly known. The queen of Manipur then was Nepali princess, Iswari Devi, eldest daughter of Prince Ramraja of Ramnagar of the then United Provinces and a cousin of His Majesty Maharaja Dhiraj, the king of Nepal. Iswari Devi was also a granddaughter of His Highness the Maharaja (then Prime Minister) of Nepal, and also a cousin sister of Nepali Brigadier, Kali Bahadur of the Royal Nepal Army whose brigade of warrior Gorkhas was in Manipur during 1942/43 participating in the fighting of the British against the Japanese as one of its loyal Allies. Maharani Iswari Devi had no issue. Actually, the third Oriya daughter of Raja of Bodo Khimdi in Ganjam district of the erstwhile Madras Presidency, Ram Priya Devi whom Maharaja Bodhachandra Singh married in 1929 when he was the Yubraj should have been the Queen of Manipur had she not been untimely divorced in 1941 due to a ‘˜point of no return’ very strained relationship developed in between the father king of Manipur, Maharaja Sir Churachand Singh and the Raja of Bodo Khimdi on the issue of much less unexpected ‘royal dowry’ received by the former from the latter.

Of course, as had been mentioned earlier the option on the part of Manipur was either to merge with the Dominion of India or with the Dominion of Pakistan. Considering her very unfavorable geographical and other political considerations, and also cultural and religious conditions, in particular, joining with the Dominion of Pakistan by Manipur was straightaway very much out of question and hence Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh very thoughtfully and rightly ‘paved the way’ for finally merging with the Dominion of India by his signing during the early stage in the so called instrument of Accession and the Standstill Agreement on 11 August, 1947.

In fact, the British Government had already given their green signal in the year 1935 to Maharaja Sir Churachand Singh for the State of Manipur to join with the Dominion of Burma (now Myanmar) when it was being carved out by separating it from the British India if he was willing to do so to which, the Maharaja, farsightedly was thoughtful in his thinking or otherwise, had kept ‘mum’ on the very tricky issue – the seemingly generous offer of the British Government was actually nothing but for keeping the most strategic State of Manipur as a ‘buffer state’ on the eastern most fringe of India for serving their interest. Had Manipur joined with Burma, as was very much desired and worked upto the last for last for it by Neta Hijam Irabot Singh much later on, what would have been the conditions of the State – could they have been politically and economically in a much better off state or in a much worsened condition than the present one which is very much like living in a ‘big frying cauldron’ placed above a very violently burning fire? Really it is also a billion dollar question that may not be very easily answered even by a political ‘genius’.

While such far-sighted views of the kings of Manipur are something very much appreciable the hasty and highly dictating manner on the part of the then Government of India adopted in forcing the helpless king, Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh to sign the Merger Agreement on 21 September 1949 at Governor’s House at Shillong without the due approval of his Cabinet is still considered by many, particularly by the legal experts, to be very ‘untactful’ and ‘undemocratic’ act on the part of the Government of India.

The feelings of great sadness are still there in the humble minds of the people of Manipur of the high-handed act of the then Government of India, particularly of the Union Home Minister, Sardar Vallavbhai Patel by which the king of Manipur and his party were put under some sort of a House arrest as some war ‘captives at the royal residency at Red Lands, Shillong from 18 to 20 September, 1949 and of the unbearable news of humiliations underwent by the highly religious and very peaceful king Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh at the hands of the Governor of Assam, Prakasa and his Advisor, Nari K Rustomji.

Maharaja Budhachandra Singh became so desperate by the unexpected humiliations done to him that he became almost ‘insane’ at one point of time and had secretly and most unbelievably told his private Secretary late Sanasam Gourahari Singh of Singjamei Makha who accompanied in the royal journey to be ready even to murder the Governor and his Advisor, Nari K Rustomji when they meet them again on the next day of 19.9.1949 for further negotiation to be carried out by shooting the former by the Maharaja and the latter by Gourahari Singh and then both Maharaja Budhachandra Singh and the private secretary Gourahari Singh to end their lives then and there in the Governor’s House Shillong by shooting each other for the sake of keeping up the age-old prestige and territorial integrity of their beloved mother land, independent, Manipur’.

Anyway, it was God’s kindness that no untoward incident in this regard had happened and that Maharaja Budhachandra Singh regained his good and calm senses and finally signed the Merger Agreement on 21 September, 1949 and it was after that Manipur was merged with the Dominion of India with effect from 15 October 1949, though in a very petty status of a mere part ‘C’ State (third class status) reducing her to a mere State under the ruling of a petty officer of the rank of Chief Commissioner – what a downfall brought by the then Political leaders of Manipur, very much unlike that of the neighboring State of Nagaland whose leaders lifted their land from the mere status of a district to a full-fledged State (first class status) by dint of their far sighted and very bold policies adopted. For the stunning anti-climatic downfall in the status of the State which had been once indomitably existing as an independent State and age-old kingdom the sulking of the people still continues, and according to many legal experts the merger agreement so carried out under ‘duress’ is highly unconstitutional and illegal ‘˜ab initio’- which is very much ‘impugnable or refutable’ from the point of existing laws, particularly of the International ones.

In this regard, it may be of quite an interesting piece for the readers to find, an extract of points of the analytical comments of Lt. CoI (retired) and an ex-Minister, Haobam Bhuban Singh of Singjamei Chingamathak given in his book written and entitled, The Merger of Manipur. He says, in page 133, that even a big State like Hyderabad could not withstand the Indian Military Action of September 1949, how could a tiny State, Manipur face the violent music that was to be played by India against it in case she had made efforts for going against her merger with the former, and to remain as an independent State of her own. He says further that there is no Native State either in India or in Pakistan which declared independent and remained of her own.

He however very boldly criticized the Government of India for being not ‘tactful and patient enough’, while handling the merger issue of Manipur as in page 138. Also he denounced the treacherous act of India carried out at Shillong by which all the insurgents of Manipur are made still angry – page 139. He also highly praises Maharaja Budhachandra Singh for his sincere spirit of being a thorough nationalist and not an arrogant autocrat though he could have been so as he could have exercised very wide autocratic powers immediately after the withdrawal of the British paramount powers from the State – page 140.

Now to continue the writing as its last part, it may be said that – whatever happened has happened, nothing could be done now to reel back to the days gone-bye and get back the things that had occurred and had been destroyed in an eternally lost nature, due to the great ‘blunders and narrow sights of the leaders’, just as nothing can be done to retrieve the milk in bulk that has been splashed on the ground or the glass that has been smashed and broken into pieces except to remain calmly and thoughtfully in ‘solace’ by believing to the divine saying that all things of events in the world do happen or ordained to happen due to God, Almighty’s doings for the ultimate good and welfare of men and also due to their destined fates – such was a quick answer given by witty Birbal to Emperor, Akbar when he got a serious cut-injury in one of his fingers and profusely bleeding to the great alarm of all the royal companions except Birbal during a hunting expedition, and because of that cut suffered with a mark left on the emperor’s finger he was saved later on from being sacrificed before deity goddess by human sacrificers (chandalas) who caught him and carried him away overpowered while he happened to be in an all alone and helpless situation as he was separated from his entire party suddenly due to loss of way in the mist of the thick jungle during a subsequent outing for hunting – had it not been for the cut mark bored on the finger of Akbar he would not have been saved from the human sacrifice that was to be done by the priest of the deity’s temple who on seeing his cut mark suddenly refused the sacrifice and released him immediately – the event so happened was really a mysterious and absolutely unbelievable one to the great emperor but it did make him good to realize of the naked truth spoken earlier by his most-trusted and witty companion Minister, Birbal who was well rewarded by the emperor instead of sulking further on him for his ‘couldn’t care attitude’ shown earlier at the time of occurrence of the serious injury to the emperor.

So also had it not been due to the precious loss of life of Thangjam Manorama Devi occurred in the year 2004 on 11 July for which, of course, the majority of the people of Manipur deeply share the profound grief of her parents, family members and close friends, the people of Manipur would not have, perhaps, got back still their most sacred place, Kangla.

Whatever may be the drawbacks and faults that may be there in the merger of Manipur with the Dominion of India the best part that lies in its ‘Merger Agreement’ signed most trustfully on 21st September 1949 by both the sides is the ‘safe-guard’ that may be said to have been laid down in respect of its jurisdiction i.e. the territory of Manipur comprising of both the hills and the valley which had been ‘ceded-enbloc’ by Maharaja Budhachandra Singh to the Dominion of India as mentioned at the outset as the first and foremost of the instrument of the Merger Agreement under Article I, which is a term of trustful agreement that may not be violated or set aside now by the present Government of India merely for fulfilling their partisan politics of appeasing only a few highly communal sections of people who are very adamantly insisting and threatening time and again for causing an ethnic-disintegration and also disintegration of the ‘age-old’ territory of the hoary land of Manipur, the existence of which, even though say, it becomes the so called south-Nagaland, cannot be ‘dreamt of at all’ without the ‘peaceful co-existence’ of both the peoples of the hills and the plain as one as had been so from time immemorial – ‘Chingda taba mahaige, tamda taba mahaige, wakon tanoi noi…’ ‘be it the settlers of the hills, be it the settlers of the valley, both are one from the same primeval stock’ – this is how the Manipuri Lai Haraoba (merriment of gods, the progenitors of all the indigenous people) folk song sings in the very ancient and primeval tune indicating of the ever inseparable oneness relationship existing in between the two groups of people.

Actually, it was only from the time of the British rule that the seeds of feelings of division in between the two indigenous blood-related groups of people were ‘sown’ for carrying out a ‘divide and rule’ policy for strengthening their position taking the full advantage of the inferior treatment done by the plains’ people, the Meiteis, to the people of the Hills as if they were of some alien and untouchable peoples by virtue of the former’s becoming orthodox Hindus at the much later stage, and also by their having a much better and advanced living conditions – it is the very fruit of the seeds of division so sown by the British for achieving their partisan goal that is being ‘reaped’ now by both the sects of people of the hills and the plain of Manipur, in particular the Meiteis, by which is made all of them living presently under a very uncertain and uneasy atmosphere with quite a unpeaceful and ever fearful ‘psyche’.

In case the present Government of India happens to violate or discard the agreement so trustfully signed earlier unduly subverting it under their unchallengeable powers provided in Article 3(a) of the Constitution, which are powers actually meant to be exercised very sparingly and rarely as very special cases related to solving only the problems of highly administrative inconveniences that happen to be faced by two or more states, and not ‘sweetly’ otherwise simply for serving ‘communal or religious’ purposes destroying the very spirit of ‘Secularism’ and ‘non-Communalism’, on the basis of which the great country had been founded and built up and is smoothly carrying on till date – the people who may be aggrieved then, of course, should have every right to fight it out taking the due course of law’.

In fact, the history of Manipur, when it is traced or looked back to many centuries earlier, is according to the findings of many learned historians, the history of a unique and hoary land which came into existence after a great ‘deluge’ had taken place, and after which formed a mountainous country of a valley surrounded all around by ranges of high mountains standing all around like high walls protecting the valley, on which (on the mountains) arrived hordes and streams of immigrants of different groups of Mongoloid stock of peoples and began to settle.

These hordes of immigrants came down from faraway places of Mongolia, China, Tibet via accessible routes of the great Himalayan ranges and also came up from south-east Asian regions, namely Cambodia, Thailand (previously Siam) and even from Malaysian islands via the routes along Mekong or Lancang Jiang or Lan-ts’ang major river of south-east Asia, 4184 km or 2600 miles long rising in Tibet and flowing down southwards through China, Laos, Kampuchea and Vietnam joining finally the South China Sea.

The main groups of the immigrants so arrived and settled beginning from the hills were the Poireis, the Khumans, the Lei-Nungs, Lei-Hous from whom sprang out the so called, Seven-salais (clans) which formed the groups – the Meiteis, the Tangkhuls, the Kabuis, the Marams, the Maos, the Marings, the Chothes, the Chirus, the Anals, the Koms, the Koirengs and all other indigenous tribes who had been since living in the most ancient land very peacefully as the inseparable brethren of a big family of people having all the similarities and identical characteristics in their customs, cultures, styles and habits of living, and all more importantly, linguistically because of which there is the ‘love’ and good ‘understanding’ amongst them all of being the oneness of a people who stemmed out from the same Mongoloid stock.

It is because of the presence of a good deal of elements of the Khumans, Leinungs and Leihous amongst the Meiteis and the Tangkhul tribes, in particular, that there has been a strong claim of very close blood-relationship in between them. It is said that the dynastic god of the Meiteis and all their cognate tribes, Pakhangba, was born of a Leihou mother, Yabiroka, daughter of a Leihou chief along with other sons who had been left over in the hills under the care of their maternal grand-father when the group of the former came down and settled in the valley. The brothers of Pakhangba who had been so left in the hills were the ones who became the Tangkhuls etc.

It is in the context of the above highlighted glaring facts that one would like to very frankly ‘disagree’ with the claim that ‘the non-Kuki tribes’, numbering only some three lakhs in total as against a total of more than 4 lakhs of the Kukis of the entire hills of Manipur, who came under the umbrella of very recently adopted ‘appellation – Naga’, which is actually a very superficial and artificial nomenclature introduced by the British administrators to suit their purpose of the ‘divide and rule’ policy, have their ‘own separate and unique history’ as one unified people from the beginning of their primeval descent or appearance on the hoary land.

The figures of population quoted as above are the figures given in the letter of the Kuki Movement for Human Rights and Kuki Students’ Organization written to the Union Minister for Human Rights Development, Arjun Singh on 6.8.2006.

In their letter they also strongly asserted the fact that no district in Manipur is exclusively inhabited by a single ethnic group or community, and that the Districts were created within the State only for the convenience of administration and not at all for serving any communal purpose.

To sum up, it is to be said that the Kingdom of Manipur had been existing since time immemorial ever constituted by its hills and the valley inseparably with its indigenous subjects of peoples categorized under two names, the Tammis (the people who settled in the valley) and the Chingmis or the Haos (the people of all the groups irrespective of their indigenous ethnic divisions settled or remained in the hills).

Therefore it really is tantamount to a quite ‘mischievous and flagrant, and not at all a ‘feasible plan’, to make the ethnic and territorial ‘disintegration’ on the basis of only one ‘plank’ of community by ‘sowing’ seeds of ‘˜hatredness’ amongst the innocent people of both the sects who should not delay to ‘wake up to realize’ fully the ill and most fearful consequences that they will disastrously face as a result of such ‘˜an ethnic and territorial break-up’, if happens to take place at all.

*The article is written by Damodar Waikhom

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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