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The Truth About Gorkhas In Manipur

I, on behalf of the Gorkha/Nepali community of Manipur take this opportunity to clarify and request the concerned organization to go into the facts pertaining to allegations prompted against the Gorkha/Nepali.

Whereas, time and again, it is alleged that the Gorkha/Nepali have encroached the lands of the tribals in the hill areas; that there is a Gorkha/Nepali influx in Manipur and the Gorkha/Nepali Population has increased to 7,44,088 against the 6,70,782 total population of the tribals in the hill area, as per 2001 Census of India, and another one alleged to over 3 lakhs that there is a serious threat to the people of Manipur because of this influx and it may cause for demand of Gorkha land. Besides this some organizations issued the quit notice to leave the State by 31st May 2010 and 4th April 2011 through leading daily local papers. Such baseless provoking and prejudiced allegations and exaggeration are malicious and mischievous, which hurt the sentiments of the Gorkha/Nepali and cast a gloom over them who have been living here for generations.

Whereas/whatsoever it is necessitated to be explicit and substantiate the origin of the Gorkha/Nepali in Manipur, to present here a historical background in the light of the present allegation infused on this peace loving community, by various organizations. These historical facts unknown to most of the people, interested in the context of the Gorkha/Nepali settlement in Manipur may give a right perspective for further comments.

That, before 1st December 1946 some parts of hills in Kanglatongbi and places of Senapati area were occupied by the Nepali graziers and there was not a single tribal in that area. The Nepali would have claimed the vast land as their own, but being a law-biding community we never speak a single word for demand that could have hampered the integrity of Manipur. We feel pity while expressing that not a single word of appreciation being heard from the seers of Manipur for the Sacrifice made by the Gorkha Martyr’s Subedar Niranjan Singh Chhetry who was hanged by the British on 8th June 1891 at the Western gate of the Kangla for defending the sovereignty of Manipur. Therefore, may I demand to erect a memorial bust of Martyr Subedar Niranjan Singh Chhetry in the Kangla instead of the demand of Gorkha District or Gurkha Land forever.

It is my humble submission to the people of Manipur that they should not be excited or feel any threat with the population figure given above by some organizations as it is totally false and imaginary of the organization has indicated the Gorkha/Nepali population on the basis of 2001 census which had increased to 7,44,088, if it is so every noble citizen of Manipur can go through the census record of 2001 to know the actual fact and figure. Whereas, in the absence of earlier records to authenticate exact date and year of arrival of the Gorkha/Nepali in Manipur, writers, research scholars and historians are not able to sketch the history in a right perspective. One of the research scholars in his research paper had mentioned their arrival in 1833 during the reign of Maharaja Chandra Kriti. But it is generally presumed that Gorkha/Nepali Settlement in Manipur dated back to 1885.

The proper beginning and end of the historical event of happening are always uncertain because they often vary. One may find one instance of migration or even two, but they are inadequate. Even eminent scholars like MK Binodini the royal member of the ruling clan of Manipur while commenting clings to this uncertainty and thus confirms that authentication is impossible, she says “in fact I do not know at what time so called Nepali community actually came to Manipur. Since my childhood beginning from Mantripukhri to Kangpokpi, I have seen their settlement to be in existence long before many years. At the time of my father Maharaja Churachand, when he was in drive on the Dimapur road, I still remember the joyous welcome and applause accorded by the Nepalese children near by the road and I saw many Nepali personnel in the post of high rank and files of the Manipur State Police” (Binodini M.K. ‘A Yaipha Paojel’ in a journal called ‘Netee; published by Manipur Nepali Sahitya Parishad in 2006) (Our translation, emphasis added)

The Panchayati Raj in the hills of Manipur is not a new one. Its genealogy can be traced back to the early part of the 20th century, before the extension of the UP Panchayati Raj Act 1947 and its successor, the Manipur Panchayati Raj 1975 and 1994.

History has shown the existence of an older version of the Raj, or the local governing body, in both the Valley and non-tribes Nepali of the Hills in grazing reserve area which is more or less valley, in the reign of Manipuri Maharajas.

Panchayati Raj was extended in the Gorkha/Nepali reserve area, since no tribals settlement was traced except one Tokpa Naga to whom Six (6) Pari of paddy land was granted. Three Panchayat had been constituted by the Political agent in Gorkha/Nepali reserve area namely Kanglatongbi, Kangpokpi and ‘rang consisting of five (5) member and one President in each of the Panchayat, and were kept under the judicial member of the durbar

Every Panchayat used to have an officially appointed ‘Chowkidar’ (a watchman) to assist the Panchayat, and the Chowkidar was given a chapras or a (copper plate) with Number Viz the chowkidar of Kanglatongbi was 297, Kalapahar was 209 and that of lrang Part II was 01. (A history of Manipur by J Roy can be cited here for ready reference).

Existence of Gorkhalis (sometimes referred to as Nepalese) in the soil of Manipur can be traced back to the third decade of 19th century, as early as the reign of Maharaja Chandrikriti. The Gorkha/Nepali first arrived with their buffalo and cows, they were allowed to settle with their herds and first began their life in and around the Capital later the place came to be popularly known as Iroisenba (buffalo rearing). Their process of settlement could be authenticated vide a dairy report of Major H. St. Maxwell, the political agent of Manipur from 4th to 10th October, 1891 according to which already the Nepalese are settling down with buffaloes and cows near the Capital and the matter of Ghee will settle itself.

That, before the beginning of the 20th century the Gorkha/Nepali Gwalla confined within the Manipur valley. The places of lroisemba, Kabrung, Ingkhol Makha Thangba, Khunga Tampak, Kadangbal, Koirengei, Khundrakpam, Nilkhutti, Gwalltabi, Tingri, Matriphukhri, Pheidinga, Sekmai and Kanglatongbi. Since the Meitei community were not a great consumer of milk and ghee and the land was becoming scarce in the Manipur valley for agriculture, the Govt of Manipur decided to shift the Gorkhali/Nepali Gwalla to the northern part of the Manipur Valley creating a Gorkha/Nepali reserve (18 miles long) in between Sekmai and Kanglatongbi in 1915 and later on partially extended up to Maram, Siddim Pukhri and lrang Part-I & II (Manipur State Administrative Report 1915-16 Chapter – V, No. 2 Para V. Durbar Resolution 1 dated 17th February 1015). That, the creation of the Sekmai Kanglatongbi Gorkha Grazing Reserve the Nepali graziers begin to settle within the reserve areas of Kurapokpi, Sapermeina, Shriwani, Keithelmanbi, Paspati, Kalapahar, Santolabari, Chandraman, Kangpokpi, Irang, Maram Siddim Pukhri, in 1018 survey of the Gorkha/Nepali Reserve area was carried out wef. 19th June 1918 to 7th January 1920 and Patta was issued for the Gorkha/Nepali graziers who applied for agricultural land.

The extract of the resolution is, “Sengmai (Sekmai) Amasung Kangpokpi Anigi marakta Nepali (Gurkha) Tahalnaba haudoklakpa Political Agent gi 1915 A.D. the 3rd February Tarik ki note pare, Mashakki wahaudok Pumnamak Yare.

As per another dairy record, the record of the President of Manipur State Durbar, dated 18th July, 1907, page 6. Gorkhalis inhabiting the place between Sekmai (Sengmai) and Kanglatongbi had objected to an application filed by one called Sanai Ram Choudhary regarding the settlement of 25 Paris of land between Sekmai and Kanglatongbi and the Gorkhalis of the later village objected on two grounds that there existed “a burial ground of one of their Saints on the other hand, and the “whole” of this land was used by them as a grazing ground, and therefore both would be affected by their settlement. The President consented that the burial ground consisting about one Pari of the land might be demarcated and excluded from settlement in favor of the objection. Regarding the second objection, it was said that there is ample grazing land on the slope of the hills to the west of the road (D.M. Road) as there is no Naga village on that hill (Vice President Manipur State Durbar).

The Manipur civil police was under the direct control of His Highness Raja. The civil police force of one consisting of one sub inspector, 4 head constable, two writer constable and 24 constables. Of the four head constable one was a Gorkha and three Manipuris. The constable was armed with batons only. There was an OutPost under a Gorkha head constable on the north of the valley to preserve order in the neighboring Gorkhali/Nepali settlement. Since the year 1897 certain taxes have been levied and collected through the State police but in that year it was decided that the land revenue office should undertake the collection. This arrangement was again changed in 1903 when it was decided to appoint a special Muzadar a retired Indian Gorkha Army Subedar Major was selected to fill the post and accordingly RB SM (Rai Bhadur Subedar Major) Gopal Singh, a Gorkha was appointed Mauzadar to collect the grazing tax and another two mauzadar l) RB SM Jitraj Limbu and 2) Durlab Singh Chhetry were appointed respectively (after the post fell vacant). One Subedar Hem Chand Singh Chhetry of 44th Gorkha Rifles who was appointed as mauzadar, died in 1881 and his memorial erected for his valor in Kangla still exists.

That, the peaceful life of the Gorkha/Nepali was disturbed by the World War II. When Kanglatombi­ Kangpokpi area became the battlefield the Nepalese of this area were evicted by the Govt, many of them left in search of security as soon as the war was over, these people began returning. Before they returned the Govt ceased the Nepali grazing reserve on 26th August 1946, giving effect from 1st December 1946, and many of them failed to comply with the Govt order who returned lately to their original places, as such they had no other alternative than to take shelter in their neighboring tribal brothers for their livelihood. That a community, which has settled for nearly 1.5 century having an area of 140 sq. miles as early as 1915, in the villages mentioned above and could rear more than 10,000 cattle and buffaloes as early as 1915, which could cause a whole road named after one of its men in Jiribam i.e. Man Bahadur Limbu’s Road could easily and gradually increase to 50,000 and above within the span of 100 years. In other words, the Nepalese of Manipur who are presently living in the State are the descendents of those forefathers who were bonafide citizens of Manipur.

*The article is written by RB Chapagain

*The writer is President of the Manipur Gorkha Welfare Union, Manipur.

(Courtesy: The Sangai Express)

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2 Responses to " The Truth About Gorkhas In Manipur "

  1. Very nicely documented…..RB Chapagain Jyu, appreciate it for sharing….

  2. Mukash Tamang says:

    I Love my manipur Gorkha so much best of luck

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