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Save Unity And Territorial Integrity Of Manipur

Manipur State is a hilly country of a total land area of 22356 Sq. Kms, of which 9/10th are hills and 1/10th is the valley. The unity of people and the present boundary of Manipur have remained fixed since the controversial transfer on lease of Kabaw valley to Burma (Myanmar) in 1834. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru has presented Kabaw valley to Burma in 1953.

People of Manipur

Manipur is a home of different peoples. Aimol, Anal, Angami, Chiru, Chothe, Gangte, Hmar, Kabui, Kacha Naga, Koirou, Koireng, Kom, Lamkang, Meetei, Meetei Pangal, Mizo, Maring, Mao, Monsang, Moyon, Paite, Pournei, Puram, Ralte, Sema, Sernte, Thangal, Thadou,Vaiphei, Zou. Tarao, Mate, Kharam, etc. are the indigenous people of Manipur. Indigenous Peoples of Manipur belongs linguistically to Tibeto-Burman family and racially to Mangoloid stock. Latecomers in the plural setup include the Mandarins, Bengalis, Punjabis, Tamils, Malayalees, Nepalis etc. who work and live in this multi-cultural pluralistic society. Manipuri, which is equally a Tibeto-Burman speech, is the lingua franca of all people in Manipur.

Historically, the close relationship of the various peoples of Manipur has been established. In Manipur the people were known by the name of their separate communities throughout the 19th and early 20th century. Only after the advent of British Colonists, the people residing in hills were divided into two groups of people under the generic names of Naga and Kuki. The tradition of common ancestry is prevalent among the hill people and Meiteis who settled with their hill brothers for centuries had left their hill habits to settle in the valley.

History of Manipur

Manipur, as an ancient kingdom, enjoyed the fortune and glory and experienced sorrow and vicissitudes of her long history. Manipur is a cradle of human civilization which has come under the influence of many cultures of many different groups of the people who came at various times and contributed to the growth of the civilization. The recorded history of Manipur dates back to 33 A.D. The kingdom under the reign of the Ningthouja dynasty has evolved to a feudal State in the fifteenth century A.D with the integration of the hills. During the reign of king Kiyamba who ascended to throne in 1467 A.D, the first treaty between Manipur and a foreign sovereign power was concluded during his time and boundary between Manipur and Pong was fixed which included Kabaw Valley in the boundary of Manipur. The glory of Manipur was at its highest with the accession of Pamheiba, who later adopted the Sanskritised name of Garibiniwaja in August 1709. During his long reign (1709-1748) Manipur had attained the zenith of her glory in military, religion, culture and literacy. No other ruler on eastern India could boast of such a glorious military conquest in northeast India and Burma in the early 18th century. During his reign, the king adopted Vaishnavism as the State religion and the process of the conversion of the people of Manipur to the Hinduism started.

The first contact of Manipur with the British came in 1762 during the reign of king Bhagyachandra with the signing of the first Anglo Manipur treaty on 14th September 1762 between Haridas Goswami, on behalf of Jai Singh, king of Manipur and Henry Vereslst, the chief of Chittagong Factory. The treaty was a result of Manipur’s intense search for European military technology to defend themselves from the onslaught of the rising Burmese who had by then acquired military technology from the French.

Manipur faced with the national catastrophe during the seven years devastation. Manipur was brought under Burmese rule for seven years (1819-26) when king Badawpaya of Burma defeated king Marjit (1813-1819). The people of Manipur faced oppression and cruelties in the hands of Burmese. During this period the country was depopulated.

Manipur was liberated with the help of British in 1826. The independence of Manipur was recognized under Treaty of Yandaboo. The influence of British to the affairs of Manipur was started with the signing of second Anglo-Manipuri Treaty in 1833. British took the help of Manipur to undertake many expeditions in the neighboring areas to protect the interests of British. The British suppressed the Angamis at Kohima and Khonoma in 1879. These heroic battles of Kohima and Khonoma are still remembered in Nagaland and are the rallying points of the emergent Naga Nationalism in the early twentieth century.

Manipur eventually came under the British Empire when Manipur was defeated in the last Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891 and Manipur became a British protected independent State ruled by Maharaja. While the Manipur King remained head of the State of Manipur, the hill territory was separately administered by the British Political Agent. Christianity made its footmark in the hills of Manipur when William Pettigrew started missionary works at Ukhrul among the Tangkhul people in the late nineties.

There was quite a lot of anti-British movement during 1891-1947. The first Women’s War of 1904, Kuki Rebellion 1917-1920, Zadonang movement (1905-1931) and the second Women’s war of 1939, popularly known as Nupi Lal were the anti-British movements in Manipur. Simultaneously, there was also strong movement led by Hijam Irabot Singh, which was anti British and at the same time was anti-feudal. The movement aimed at the establishment of an egalitarian society in Manipur. This movement became an armed struggle since 1948 onwards and continued.

Independence ultimately came to Manipur in 1947 and an interim government was formed with Maharaja Kumar Priyobarta as Chief Minister. A Constitutional Monarchy was established with the active participation of all people in hills and valley under the Manipur Constitution Act 1947.

This process was halted when Manipur was forcefully merged into the Dominion o; India in 15th October 1949. The Manipur Assembly as well as the people of Manipur was never consulted when the merger agreement was signed in Shillong on 21″ September 1949 between the Dominion of India and the Maharaja of Manipur under mystic circumstances. After the merger and birth of Indian Union in 1950, Manipur was directly ruled by center up to 1972 Manipur ultimately became a State under the Indian Union in 1972 and since then the unity of people have been maintained until the manipulation of Government of India and NSCN (IM) to make divisions amongst the people in Manipur started in nineties.

Constitutional History

The first written constitution of Manipur was promulgated during the period of King Loiyumba who reigned from 1074 to 1112 A.D. The Constitution has been in force up to 1891, with some modifications from time to time.

When Manipur became independent in 1947, after the lapse of paramount power of the British, Manipur State Constitution Act of 1947 was adopted which provided for full participation of the both hill and valley people in the governance of State. The constitution of the State was drafted with the active participation of the Hill representatives. The Manipur State Hill Peoples’ (Administration) Regulation Act 1947 was enacted to ensure full participation of hill people in the polity.

After merger in 1949, Manipur was relegated to a part C state in the Indian Union. The status of Manipur, a pre-existing State, was kept to that of a non self-governing status till 1972. After becoming a State in the Indian Union, the full and responsible participation of hill people and minorities was maintained in the Polity. During the 29 years and six months of Statehood till today, the post of Chief Ministership was held by Tangkhuls for 12 years and 5 months, Meiteis 9 years and 10 months, Meitei Pangal 2 years and 4 months exemplifying the full participation of one and all in the polity. For the rest of the time Manipur was under President’s rule.

Unity of Manipur

‘All these times when Manipur was in the height of power, Hill and Valley was one; and this oneness defended Manipur against all invasions and thus, she could maintain her independence up to 1891, when the rest of India had already been conquered by the British. British conquest of this land resulted from the slackened unity between the Valley and Hills. Now since the withdrawal of British Paramountcy after 56 years rule, we have reinforced the union of Hill and Valley; the best opportunities have reached us in order to work hand in hand towards achieving the common object of progress and national prosperity. The relation has become one of complete understanding and active sympathy; it must be so, for Manipur is one and the hopes and aspirations of Hill and Valley are identical.” (Proclamation of Maharaja Bodhachandra on October 18, 1948 during the inauguration of the First Manipur State Assembly.

The Hills and Valley of Manipur form one unique ecological formation, where it’s geological structure, its flora and fauna, its climatic environment and people’s interactions were all unfolded together in history in one great natural scheme. All the rivers in the Valley rise from its hills, and the Valley extends right at the foot of the mountain ranges. The valley is populate by all people and the Nagas and the Kukis reside together in all the hill districts of Manipur (1981 Census).

It is a fallacy that Meiteis exploit hill people. The relationship between the Hill People and Meiteis has been that of co-existence and interdependence throughout the history of Manipur. If there had been any exploitation, it has been the ruling class who exploit common people as is happening everywhere in the world; the ruling class is being drawn from all people in hills and valley.

Territorial Integrity of Manipur

The territorial integrity of Manipur has been fully established for half a millennium, as one can easily verify from Henry Yules’s Map of Manipur in 1500 A.D, down to James Johnstone’s Map in 19’hh century and to Surveyor General of India’s map of Manipur, 1984 A.D. They have been corroborated and recognized by other countries in their official maps and records.

“The territories of Muneepoor have fluctuated at various times with the fortunes of their princes, frequently extending for three or four days journey east beyond the Ningthee or Khyendwen river, and west to the plains of Cachar. Its present boundaries, as far as they have been fixed, are on the west, the Jeree river, from its sources to its confluence with the Barak, and from this point South, to the North of the Chikoo or Tooyaee, a nullah, which flowing from lofty ranges bordering on the Tripurah country, falls into the Barak at the Southern extremity of a range of Mountains, three sides of which are embraced by the tortuous course of this river” (PembertonReport, 1835).

“Read her history from 24 A.D. She had her dominion over a wide area extending as far as the southern portion of China in the North, the gold mines in the Sibsagar valley, the river Chindwin in the East and south, and Chandarpore (Cachar) in the West. Her present area is 8,650 square miles plus 7,000 square miles of Kabaw Valley, including 7,900 square miles of the hills. …… Read the treaty of Yandaboo, dated the 9* January 1834 ratified between Maharaja Gambhir Singh and the Company. The treaty left us a good heritage, namely the Kabaw valley of 7,000 square miles for which we now get from Burma Rs. 6,270 as annual tribute which according to the spirits of the terms of the Agreement will cease when the area is reverted to our State”. (Proclamation of Maharaja Bodhachandra on October 18, 1948 during the inauguration of the First Manipur State Assembly).

There is no ambiguity of the boundary of Manipur, when she was merged into the Indian Union in 1949 as mentioned in the First Schedule of the Indian Constitution, 1950. Manipur has been ‘a pre-existing state ‘ before the adoption of Indian Constitution. She merged with a definite boundary and as such the boundary cannot be altered without the consent of the entire people of Manipur.

Territorial Integrity of Manipur under the Indian Constitution

The First schedule of the constitution defines territory of Manipur, ‘The territory which immediately before the commencement of the Indian Constitution was being administered as if it were a Chief Commissioners’ province under the name of Manipur”. This categorically establishes the fact that the territorial integrity of Manipur preceded the Indian Constitution. This status quo ante of the pre existing state cannot be disturbed by a subsequent provision of Indian Constitution under Article 3 or 4.

Under Article 3, the Indian Constitution empowers the Union Parliament to reorganize the States by a simple procedure; the affected State or States may express their views but cannot resist the will of the Parliament. The Government of India has the responsibility to rectify this mistake and make provision in the Constitution affirming the territorial integrity of Manipur of pre-merger status.

People’s Effort to safeguard the territorial integrity

Besides the heroic battles that the People of Manipur fought for Manipur in the past, the people of Manipur had all along been fighting to safeguard the territorial integrity since 1947. In 1947, Congress Party backed by the Manipur State Congress made a move to amalgamate Manipur with the three regions-Tripura, Cachar and Lushai Hills and form ‘Purbanchal’. Hijam Irabot, the revolutionary leader of Manipur at that time organized a historic meeting of representative of political parties and associations at Manipur Dramatic Union Hall on the 30th November 1947. Representatives of all people in hills and valley resolved to preserve Manipur’s territorial integrity and demanded full responsible government in Manipur. The mutual bonds of sharing, of respect for each other’s identities and an acceptance of pluralism has been established by then.

The People of Manipur have also objected to the extension of ceasefire to Manipur in 1964. The All Manipur People’s Convention submitted a memorandum to the then Prime Minister and Home Minister on 23-09-1965 objecting to the extension of ceasefire to Manipur. The All Manipur Students’ Union, AMSU also came out strongly against the extension of ceasefire to Manipur.

The Manipur Cultural Integration Center under the leadership of people from both hill and valley campaigned intensely in late sixties to bring stronger emotional integration of people of Manipur. The people of Manipur in massive rallies participated by lakhs of people from all communities and sections of Manipur pledged to preserve the unity and territorial integrity of Manipur on 4th August 1997 and 28’h September 2000 respectively.

The Manipur Legislative Assembly, the representative of the people of Manipur under the Indian Parliamentary democracy had earlier resolved unanimously on four occasions i.e. 24’h March 1995, 14th March 1997, 17th December 1998 and 22″d March 2001 to preserve and protect the territorial integrity of Manipur.

Extension of ceasefire to Manipur

The strong resentment of people of Manipur to the extension of ceasefire to Manipur under the Bangkok agreement of 14* June 2001, between Government of India and NSCN (IM) is based on the long drawn historical experiences and sentiments of Manipur in their fight to protect the territorial integrity and plural ethos of the State of Manipur. Many battles and wars have been fought to save Manipur from the hands of foreign powers and many times the hills and valley have stood together as one to face onslaughts on her territory and society.

The extension of ceasefire to Manipur aims to rupture the traditional bonds of the people in hills and valley undermining all democratic and constitutional norms of peaceful co-existence and pluralism, which marked the polity of the Manipur so far. Enough have been done by engineering Kuki-Naga Clashes in 1992-93. The people of Manipur would not tolerate further manipulations to demolish the hard earned unity of people whether by GOI or NSCN (IM).

The extension of ceasefire to Manipur has sown the seeds of hatred and bitterness amongst the people of Manipur. It has unleashed forces of mutual annihilation through people fighting against people. This reminds one of imperial and colonial attitude of Lord Dalhousie in the 19th century who wanted to ‘ leave the tribes of the Northeast to cut each others throats to their hearts content’

The long established polity of Manipur based on pluralism, democracy and secularism is under direct threat by this extension of ceasefire. This is already evidenced from the recent developments in Manipur. The GOI instead of formulating and pronouncing the political solution to the Naga political problem, ‘ceasefire without territorial limit’ has been made out to be the answer to the Naga Nationalist movement started by Angami Zapu Phizo.

The extension of ceasefire to Manipur without the consent of People of Manipur beyond the legitimate boundary of Nagaland is the legitimation of the Greater Nagaland (Nagalim) of NSCN by the Government of India. Thus, the act is a direct threat to the territorial integrity of Manipur.

Apathy of Indian Leaders

The Indian leaders have always betrayed the people of Manipur. The move against the territorial integrity of Manipur was first made by the Congress in 1947 in an effort to amalgamate Manipur with Tripura, Cachar and Lushai Hills and form ‘Purbanchal’.

Manipur was forcibly merged to the Dominion of India in 1949 overriding the then existed Manipur Assembly duly constituted under the Manipur State Constitution Act 1947. And it took 23 years under the Indian Constitution for Manipur to become a mere State under the Indian Union. Again Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru quietly gifted away the Kabaw valley to Burma in 1953.The Government of India always use the areas of Manipur on the bargaining table to appease others as is evident in the sixteen point resolution/agreement of 1960.

The leaders of India have given many assurances that the present ceasefire with NSCN (IM) will not be extended to Manipur. People of Manipur as well as the Manipur Legislative Assembly have resolved opposing the ceasefire extension to Manipur on many occasions. And the decision to extend the ceasefire to Manipur from I” August 2001 was suddenly announced on 14* July 2001.

People’s Uprising of June 18

Stung by the betrayal of the Government of India, People of Manipur rose against the decision of the Government of India to extend the ceasefire between the Government of India and NSCN (IM) to Manipur. On June 18, the buildings of Manipur Legislative Assembly, the offices of various National as well as State Political Parties and many official Quarters of the members of Legislative Assembly and Parliament were grounded into rubbles.

In the biggest challenge to democracy, the Government of India chooses not to heal voice of the Manipur Legislative Assembly representing the people of Manipur in the Indian Parliamentary Democracy and choose otherwise. It was this decision of the Government of India, which helped the destruction of the very democratic institutions created by the Indian Constitution.

Already fifteen precious lives have been lost in the protest against the extension of ceasefire to Manipur. Many more precious lives will be lost unless GOI rectify the blunder of extending ceasefire to Manipur and status quo of August 1, 1997 is maintained with regard to the ceasefire between the Government of India and NSCN (IM).

People of Manipur have declared to defend the unity and territorial integrity of Manipur] on June 26, 2001. The people of Manipur continue the movement against the ceasefire extension to save the Unity and Territorial Integrity of Manipur. The people of Manipur demand the immediate withdrawal of the of Nagaland Cease fire extension beyond the legitimate jurisdiction of Nagaland State to Manipur,

UNITED COMMITTEE, MANIPUR (A Committee of AMKIL AMUCO. AMKIL. JFSA. NIPCO. & UPF.)

People’s Declaration to defend the territorial integrity of Manipur (June 26, 2001)

Recalling that Manipur, which stood as a nation state with two millennia of recorded history with its own written Constitution and well defined and internationally recognized political boundary, was involuntarily merged into the then Dominion of India following the disputed Merger Agreement on 15 October 1949.

Reminding of the various international agreements, treaties and instruments that Manipur has been a party as a sovereign independent country – Such as the Kiyamba- Khekhomba Agreement of 1470 between the Manipur and the Pong / Shan Kingdoms; the Anglo-Manipuri Mutual Defense Treaty of 14 September 1762; the Anglo-Manipuri Defense Protocol of 1763, the Treaty of Yandaboo of 24 February 1826; the Anglo-Manipuri Treaty of 1833; the Kabo Valley Agreement of 1834, the Anglo-Manipuri (Northbroke-Chandrakriti) protocol of 1874,the collateral instruments such as the Stand Still Agreement and the Instrument of Accession of 11th August 1947; followed by the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947 under which election, based on universal adult franchise, was held the following year and finally the Merger Agreement of 1949 – rendering the existing territorial boundary of Manipur inviolable.

Recalling that the Naga-Akbar Hydari Accord, 1947 between the then Governor of Assam Mr. Hydari and representatives of Western Angamis, Eastern Angamis, Kukis, Kacha Nagas(Mzemi), Rengmas, Semas, Lothas, Aos, Sangtams and Changs had no jurisdiction over Manipur as Manipur then an independent princely state.

Also recalling that the Sixteen Points Agreement (Which was never agreed upon in its entirety) between the Government of India and Naga National Council in 1960, and the 1964 cease-fire agreement between them are null and void as far as it concerns Manipur as the people of Manipur were never consulted in the process.

Deeply concerned that the Government of India pays scant respect to the boundaries of North-Eastern States, the first Prime Minister of India gifted away Manipur’s Kabo Valley to Burma in 1953 against the will of the people of Manipur, the same Prime Minister announced the abandonment of the North-Eastern region to the Chinese for the defense of Calcutta in 1962 and the government’s ignorance of the continued intrusion in the eastern frontiers while going to war with Pakistan for Kargil. Reiterating that the Manipur State Legislative Assembly resolved four times on 24 March 1995, 14 March 1997, 17 December 1998 and 22 March 2001 to preserve the territorial integrity of Manipur.

Reaffirming the historic resolution passed by the people on 4th August 1997 and 28th September 2000 resolving to protect the unity and territorial integrity of Manipur. We, the representatives of the All Manipur Students’ Union. (AMSU), All Manipur United Clubs’ Organization (AMUCO), Apunba Manipur Kanba Ima Lup (AMKIL), International Peace and Social Advancement (IPSA), National Identity Protection Committee (NIPCO), United People’s Front (UPF), on behalf of the people of Manipur declare as follows:

1. The people of Manipur extend their solidarity and support to the ongoing negotiation for an honorable settlement to the fifty-year-old Naga National movement founded by the late Angami Zapu Phizo.

2. The people of Manipur considers the extension of cease-fire agreement between the Government of India and the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isaac-Muivah) [NSCN(IM)] to Manipur amounts to questioning and undermining the unity and territorial integrity of Manipur.

3. The people of Manipur considers this extension of cease fire between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM) in the territory of Manipur as an act to escalate the colonial divide and rule policy aiming at infusing hitherto non-existent communal division to the symbiotic society of Manipur.

4. The people of Manipur states that any attempt and subsequent alteration to the existing boundary of Manipur by the Government of India would necessarily initiate the process of the disintegration of the Republic of India constituted in 1950.

5. The people of Manipur calls upon the Government of India to immediately and unconditionally withdraw the imposition of this cease-fire from Manipur.

6. The people of Manipur realizes the imperative need of strengthening the emotional and social bonds of all indigenous people of Manipur even stronger by respecting and protecting each other’s economic, social and cultural rights and by realizing the shared common destiny as one people with one political aspiration which shall never be compromised.

7. The people of Manipur reminds the Government of India that nothing can disintegrate Manipur and the North-Eastern region or set people against people and it is now time for a new dawn for a peaceful, progressive and meaningful coexistence.

8. The people of Manipur reaffirms that the Manipur People’s uprising on June 18 2001 stands as a living testimony to this common aspiration to the people to preserve the unity sand territorial integrity of Manipur.

Signed:-

(N. Sorojini Devi)

President

Apunba Manipur Kanba Ima Lup (AMKIL)

(H. lbotombi Khuman)

President

International Peace and Social Advancement (IPSA)

(Mangsatabam Ingo Singh)

i/c President

All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU)

(Pebam Ongbi Chaobi Devi)

Chairperson

National Identity Protection Committee (NIPCO)

(Lto Tongbram)

President

All Maniple United Clubs’ Organization (AMUCO)

(Kh. Ratan)

President

United People’s Front (UPF)

(Courtesy: Koubru Cyber Cafe)

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