Who was Comrade Irabot

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Hijam Irabot (Courtesy: Manipur Archives)

Brief Profile of Comrade Hijam Irabot

Hijam Irabot:

• Born on 30 September 1896 at Oinam Leikai near Pishumthong,Imphal, Manipur.

• After his father’s death, he moved with his mother to stay with hisaunt Sougaijam Ongbi Ibeton Devi at Moirangkhom Sawaijam,Imphal. After his mother’s death and his return from Dacca in 1915 he was sheltered in the house of Maibam Samden of Wangkhei, Imphal.

• He was known as Jana-Neta (Leader of the people) by the Cacharis,Simanta Prahari (Sentinel of the Frontier) by Hemango Biswas, AFOJI ( elder comrade in Burmese or, comrade Ahal to the armed Manipuri red guards) by the then Burmese Communist Party.

Father’s Name:

• Hijam Ibungohal

Mother’s Name:

• Chongtham Ningol Thambalngambi of Hijam Leikai

Spouse’s Name:

• Rajkumari Khomdonsana, daughter of MK Chandrahas, elder brother of the then reigning King Churachand.

Schools attended:

• Johnstone Higher Secondary School, Imphal (upto Class seven).

• Pugoj High School, Dhaka, in present day Bangladesh (upto class nine). In 1915, he dropped out due to shortage of money and went to Agartala.

Literature & Journalism:

• Editor, Meitei Chanu, a hand written magazine brought out in 1922.

• Author, Saidem Seireng, a text book purchased from him by the Manipur State Durbar on 4 December 1929 and prescribed as a textbook for the High School students of fifth class.

• Author, Mohini, a novel published in serialized from, from August 1931 in Yakairol monthly.

• Author, Dalil Amasung Darkhast Iba, printed in 1933.

• Founder General Secretary, Manipur Sahitya Parishad; 1937 and 1938.

• Author of a collection of poems, Imagi Puja, written in Shylhet jail, published in 1987.

• Founder cum editor, weekly Anouba Jug, from 13 April 1947 onwards.

• Author of Lokmanya Tilak (Biography), Jaymati (Drama), Gomati (play) and translated Bankimchandra’s novel, Krishna Kanter Will into Manipuri – many of these are still in manuscripts.

Art & Culture:

• Acted in Bengali plays during the early period (1915-20).

• Acted in both male and female characters in early 1930s

• Played the role of Kumud in his first historical play in Nara Singh (1925).

• Played the role of Chandra Singh in Areppa Marup, social play of S. Lalit Singh,

• Played the role of Baladeva in the Manipuri version of the play,Debala Devi.

• Acted in Satee Khongnang.

• Founding member, Manipur Dramatic Union (MDU, established in 1931

Sports:

• Played hockey, football, cricket, tennis and badminton.

• Encouraged Sat-jal, Manipuri martial art.

• Founder member, Imphal Town Club, a premier sports club in his time.

• Founder member, Manipur Sports Association.

Appointment:

• Member of the Sadar Panchayat Court; appointed on 1 April 1930 and resigned on the 17 March, 1939.

Organisational experience:

• Founder, Bal Sangha and Chatra Sanmelan while in Johnstone Higher Secondary School

• President of the Reception Committee of Manipuri Sabha, appointed in November 1933.

• Original member, Manipuri Mahasabha, in early 1930s.

• Founder member, Nikhil Manipuri Hindu Mahasabha, 30 May 1934 at Imphal (later on Nikhil Manipuri Mahasabha). On 15 Feb 1939 the NMM was declared an illegal organization. On 7 January 1940,Irabot defected from the Mahasabha on matters regarding the nonagreement on physically supporting the Nupi-lan among itsmembers.

• Founder of various organizations; Krishak Sabha Praja Mandal,Praja Sanmelani, Mahila Sanmelani, Youth League, etc.

Communist Background:

• During the Nupi Lan, that was broke out since 12 December 1939,Irabot was arrested on 9 January 1940 and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment for a speech delivered on 7 January 1940 at the Police Line Bazar. He was previously kept at the Imphal jail but shifted to Sylhet jail. In the Sylhet jail he came across Congress and Communist leaders. Irabot was released from the Sylhet jail on 20 March 1943. But he was not permitted to enter Manipur. He stayed in Cachar to work among the Manipuri peasants and also among the non-Manipuri ex teagarden workers. There he joined the Kishan movements. He kept in touch with the communist leaders and attended the first congress of the Communist party of India that was held at Bombay from 23 May to 1 June, 1943 as a special invitee from Cachar.

• In Cachar he organized cultural squads known as Swadesh Ganer Dal, which was later on incorporated in the Indian People’s Theatre Association. He led a delegation from Cachar to the All India Kishan Sabha session held at Netra Kona in Mymensing District of Bengal. In March 1844, he went to Bejwada (Katakual Village) to join the Kishan Conference and stayed for sometime at the Bengal Communist Party office. The same year he went to Sylhet to join the annual session of the Surma valley provisional Kishan Sabha. Irabot was detained as a security prisoner in the Silchar District jail with effect from 15 September 1944 on the charge that he was a communist. He was released on 10 January 1945. After more than 5 years of political exile Irabot was given permission to stay in Manipur for a week i.e., from 2 to 10 September, 1945. His request for an extension of his stay in Manipur was denied. He came back to Cachar and carried out peasants’ movement. He was appointed General Secretary of the Cachar District Kishan Sabha and President of the Surma Valley Kishan Sabha. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Assam Kisha Sabha, the CPI Assam Provincial Committee, and the Assam Students’ Federation. He contested in the 1946 election to the Assam Provincial Legislatures Assembly from the Silchar constituency as a CPI candidate.

• Irabot was finally permitted to enter Manipur in March 1946. In Manipur he organized a new party called the Manipur Praja Mandal in April 1946. He attended two sessions of the Nikhil Manipuri Mahasabha before he was expelled from the membership of the Working Committee of the Mahasabha on the charge of being a member of the Communist Party of India. He attended the second congress of the CPI held at Calcutta from 28 Feb to 6 March 1948. The first Communist Party of Manipur was formed on 23 August 1948. In the June/ July 1948 election to the Manipur Assembly, Irabot contested and won under from the Utlou Constituency as a Krishak Sabha candidate. Before the inauguration of the Assembly,Irabot on behalf of the Manipur Praja Sangha and Manipur Krishak sabha called a meeting at the M.D.U Hall on 21 September 1948,to protest against the formation of Purbachal Pradesh, comprising of Manipur, Tripura, Cachar and Lushai Hills. A scuffle took place at Pungdongbam when the Manipur Sate Police prevented a group of citizens who came to attend the meeting in which a police officerwas killed on the spot. The Manipur state council declared the Manipur Praja Sangha and Manipur Krishak Sabha unlawful. The state officials declined to constitute an Enquiry Committee to investigate the Pungdongbam incident. Irabot could not attend the first meeting of the Manipur Legislative Assembly held on 18 October 1948 because of the warrant against him. Irabot formed an underground Communist Party of Manipur on 29 October 1948 and carried out armed struggle against the government. He died on 26 September 1951 at the foothills of the Anggo Hills.

The Article was part of the Souvenir distibuted during the Irabot Day Celebration which was held at Delhi 30th Sep 2010. We would like to thank Irabot Day Observation Committee, Delhi for the permission to publish

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