By M. Mlamani
Manipur, which was originally known as “Kangleipak” having unique history of its own for the last more than two thousand years – being ruled and governed by the kings till before the 27th of April, 1891, the day on which the elements of independent kingdom of Kangleipak and its sovereignty were lost at the hands of Britishers who conquered our motherland and its people in the battle of Anglo – Manipur War 1891, had been facing various socio-political and religious conflict situations from amongst its indigenous people.
What were the causes which led to the present political scenarios of Manipur ?
Manipur (Kangleipak) had every ingredient of its being an independent kingdom (country) having its own geographical boundary – recognized by prominent countries of the world, it had its own language – “Meiteilon” which is the “LINGUA FRANCA” of the whole people of Manipur. The script of Manipur is as many as 2000 years old. Before the birth of “Jesus Christ” Manipur had its own manuscript.
Manipur, being self sufficient kingdom there was nothing lagging behind. Manipur was not dependent on neighbouring countries. Control over its people living in the hills and the valley were in the hands of the kings. Kings of Manipur were the supreme heads of the entire territories of Kangleipak (Manipur). Any rebellion by any community of the hills and the valley were suppressed by the kings.
The system of “LOIPOT” was prevalent through out the hills from time immemorial with the exception of few negligible “KHULLAKPAS” of small section of tribes who were recently migrated to Manipur and whose settlements were given by the kings. This exceptional relaxation was made on consideration of their poor financial condition. The system of “LOIPOT” in those days could be referred as clear example – to the case of legendary figure “KABUI SALANG MAIBA” who had close connection with legendary love story of “KHAMBA THOIBI” of the 12lh Century, under whose utmost care “KHAMBA AND KHAMNU” were brought up from their childhood to fully matured youth.
Had Manipur (Kangleipak) not been under British Rule, the present political and religious conflicts would not have been seen and there would not have been the present indication of divide BETWEEN HILLS & VALLEY for which what we need is urgent solution and better understanding so as to bring in “ONENESS, MUTUAL RESPECT & PEACEFUL CO-EXISTENCE” from amongst thirty six ethnic groups of people as once prevailed and well proved by the history of Manipur since 33AD till Manipur was conquered by British Crown on the 27th April, 1891 and thereafter British People ruled Manipur for a little above 56 years till before the midnight of 14th August, 1947.
27th April 1891 was a bad omen for all the people of Manipur. Series of “Events” followed after the 27th of April, 1891 were against the interest of ethnic groups of people of Manipur.
The boundary of Manipur, once, covered the entire areas of “KABAW VALLEY” and in the North-West of Manipur the area was extended upto Dhanashari River after crossing “THIBOMEI” (Kohima) which is at present under the Govt. of Nagaland. Nagaland is a new state created under the Constitution of India.
Most notable and unprecedented Episode which took place in Manipur was the “DEMARCATION” of neighbouring Cachar and Manipur during British Rule in India – initiated by British Authority and that too to the maximum advantage of Britishers which resulted in the loss of vast areas of Manipur’s land in Cachar as well as the lands occupied and settled by Angamese within the geographical boundary of Manipur now in Nagaland who lived as bonafide subjects under the control and jurisdiction of the kings of Manipur. British Author had categorically said that Manipur had lost these Angamese (thirty thousands) and the areas settled by them from time immemorial in favour of British Authority.
With the exception of few tribes (Ethnic groups) who were original settlers of Manipur (Kangleipak) most of the tribes were found migrated to the land of Manipur. They were given settlements by the Kings. From amongst the tribes of hills, very often enmity between them emerged and as a result – war -like attack by stronger force to weaker tribes occurred in the hills of Manipur. But the forces of the Kings intervened in such war – like – attack and brought them under control.
Though the whole population of hills and valley of Manipur was few in number in those time prior to the arrival of British people, the vast territories of Manipur were ruled by the Kings being the Supreme Heads of Manipur country. Everybody is aware of the fact that “KABAW VALLEY” once belonged to Manipur (Kangleipak) and possession thereof was delivered to the King of Ava very skillfully and diplomatically by British Authority under an agreement entered into between British Government on one part and Burmese Government of the other part on condition of monthly grant of stipend of 500 (five hundred Sicca Rupees) payable to the Rajah of Manipur – to commence from the ninth of January one thousand eight hundred and thirty four, the date at which the transfer of “KABAW VALLEY” took place as shown in the agreement mutually signed by two British Officials and two Burmese Commissioners and that too without impleading the King (Supreme Head of Manipur) as party to the agreement which now resulted in the loss of vast areas of “KABAW VALLEY”. It was a great loss to the whole people of Manipur.
This unprecedented event took place before the British Rule in Manipur while Manipur was an independent kingdom.
British Commissioners Major F.C. Grant and R.B. Captain Pemberton were the party who represented British Authority under instruction from Honourable Governor General in Council – while king of Ava was represented by his two Commissioners in 1834 in connection with “KABAW VALLEY AGREEMENT”.
In the aforementioned agreement it is very clearly and specifically mentioned that “should any circumstances hereafter arise by which the portion of territory lately made over to Ava again reverts to Munnipore, (Manipur) the allowance now granted by the British Government will cease from the date of such reversion”.
On the issue of “KABAW VALLEY” British Authority was silent. Even the Queen of England kept mum when Manipur under British Rule was handed over to the King – Maharaj Bodhachandra on the midnight of the 14th August, 1947.
Britishers in England knew it well that “K.ABAW VALLEY” was the land of Manipur Country. They also knew that it was with the policy of England, possession of “KABAW VALLEY” was delivered to Burmese Government for keeping diplomatic relationship between the Burmese Government and British Authority.
Before handing over Manipur to the King – Maharaj Bodhachandra, British Authority should have made clarification and the Burmese Government should have been urged to formally handover possession of “KABAW VALLEY” to the King of Manipur. It was moral obligations and responsibilities of British Government to take back “KABAW VALLEY” and deliver the same to Manipur.
Certain arrangement for delivery of possession of “KABAW VALLEY” to the King of Manipur ought to have been made by the British Authority.
Why did England remained silent on this very important issue – an issue which was originally initiated by British Authority and that too without impleading the King of Manipur as party to the said Agreement ?
Sovereign authority of the King of Manipur was lost on the 27th of April, 1891 after Manipur was conquered by the Britishers. Prior to this date -England did not have legal authority to enter into an agreement with foreign country in respect of the land of Manipur “KABAW VALLEY” and its delivery of possession to Burmese Government. Britishers had no power and legal jurisdiction over the Kingdom of Manipur.
The two officials of England who were one of the parties to the said Agreement could not be treated as legal authority to enter into such agreement since they were not authorized Agents of the King of Manipur nor was there any Special Power of Attorney delegated to them by the King of Manipur to sign the Agreement on his behalf and as such the nature of this particular Agreement and the manner in which it was drawn and executed should be deemed to have been done with many legal loopholes. The Agreement in Question suffers from defect of parties. The king of Manipur (the Supreme Head of Manipur) was not impleaded as party to the Agreement. Hence, the same could be declared as “Null and Void” by a competent and appropriate Court of Law having jurisdiction and power to proceed with the case of “KABAW VALLEY” which now involved foreign elements.
Eminent lawyers who are experts in private and public International law as well as Constitutional laws of three countries – England, Myanmar and India could take up the case with full confidence. Ever since the “KABAW VALLEY” (the land of the King of Manipur) was transferred to Burmese Government in 1834 without making the King of Manipur as party to the agreement signed by the two British Officials and two Commissioners of AVA – till date no one had interrupted in the matter of transfer of “KABAW VALLEY” to Burmese Government.
Both the tribal of hills and valley people inclusive of veteran politicians from these two groups were found very much reluctant and kept mum over the issue of “KABAW VALLEY”.
Even after the Britishers left Manipur on the midnight of 14th August, 1947 and when Manipur ‘s administration was carried on by Elected Representatives of Manipur Legislative Assembly which was formed under Manipur Constitution Act, 1947 which is older than the Constitution of India, no one from the hills and valley of Manipur turned up and attempted to take back the lost “KABAW VALLEY” through legal process. Very unfortunately our own self Government could not last long. Manipur Legislative Assembly was dissolved immediately after merging Manipur with the Government of India on the I5th of October, 1949 and Manipur (once an independent kingdom recognized by the world) was placed in the category of Part C-Stale of India.
Signing of the Merger Agreement by Maharajah Bodhchandra at Shillong in the month of September, 1949 and to merge Manipur with the dominion of India from the 15th of October, 1949, had become a controversial issue since Maharajah of Manipur did not have sovereign authority to sign such agreement on behalf of the Government of Manipur while Manipur was having its own Legislative Assembly with the Chief Minister being the Head of the State. All the MLAs were elected Representatives of the people of Manipur, election of which was held under the provision of Manipur Constitution Act, 1947.
Any instrument or agreement, if any, alleged to have been signed or signed by the King of Manipur while Manipur was under British Rule, cannot be acted upon since Manipur was absolutely under the legal jurisdiction of the crown of England.
Unity of the indigenous people of Manipur which once prevailed prior to the conquest of Manipur by British Forces, disappeared completely with the division of Kangleipak (Manipur) into hills, valley and British Reserved Areas.
In the name of administrative conveniences – inner hidden motive of “DEVIDE & RULE” policy as adopted right from the arrival of “ ‘East India Company” into the soil of India, presenting the company as a “Trading Company of England” and thereafter taking the whole lands of India under their possession and control, the same attitude and the policy of British people could be seen in the case of Kangleipak by giving free hand to the missionary of Religion to convert most of the people of hills into “Christianity” while valley people (more than half of the population of Meiteis had already been converted into “Vaisnavism” since the regime of Pamheiba, the then King of Manipur. Before the arrival of British People in Manipur there was no Christian in the hills. Religious differences between the people of hills and valley played vital role leading to the signal of severance of blood relationship of brotherly and sisterly ties.
Example of the role of Religions is not far to seek. Everyone living in the world knows as to why and how “Partition of India and Pakistan effected” and how many lakhs of Muslims and Hindus were killed throughout India in the uncontrollable riots that occurred before, during and after the partition. Md. Jinnah ‘s long cherished aim and objectives were fulfilled at the cost of innocent lives of lakhs of Muslims who professed “Islamic Religion” on one side and lakhs of Hindus lost their precious lives in Hindustan and Pakistan Riots – of the other side. Still enmity between India and Pakistan continues. God knows what would happen to India and Pakistan in the near future. Both these two countries possess most dangerous Nuclear Weapons. Evils of religions would continue as long as Religious fundamentalists exist in the world. These people are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their religion. They interpreted the meaning of religion in a different way.
Streams of politics of valley and hills of Manipur coupled with religious conflicts between the two groups, though undisclosed but hidden behind a big curtain just after they embraced two sets of religions which were foreign to them, the entire environment surrounding hills and valley had been found completely changed as if two boats in the river running towards different directions destination of which can never be the same goal. Christianity and Vaisnavism were not a religion here so much as a birth right as these two religions were alien to the people of hills and valley of Manipur.
Our passion for living in Unity, oneness, communal harmony and peaceful co-existence amongst people of hills and valley should not be allowed to poison by elements of religious faiths.
Religion should not be made as cause for severance of more than two thousand year old relationship between hills and valley people. Great Saints of India who knew the meaning of “RELIGION” never indulged in the war of religion because they know what is religion.
One of the greatest Saints of the world “SHIRDI SAI BABA” allowed all sections of people who professed different religions to become His disciples. His teachings and philosophy never classified human beings as low cast-untouchable Harijans or High Class Priests.
To HIM all human beings irrespective of cast, creed and religion are the same and treated them equally.
Now, coming to the role of Meities (Majority Community of Manipur) it could very easily ascertain from historical records of Kangleipak that Meities had never interfered into the traditions, rituals, customs and religions of hill tribes under Manipur Rule.
In true sense of the term, Meiteis were the warriors who were loyal to the Kings of Kangleipak (Manipur). Their strengths, courages and peculiar type of techniques of fighting with swords, spears and Arambais with which they were brought up enabled them to win over their opponents.
Meiteis were not communal. In a very soft and delicate manner all the ethnic communities of hills were treated with love and they were not looked down by the majority community.
In sixty members “Manipur Legislative Assembly” – Rishang Keishing, Yangmaso Shaiza and Alimuddin were the Chief Ministers. Rishang Keishing is still MP of Rajya Sabha.
This is concrete proof of Meiteis ‘ full co-operation to minority communities. Meities never treat hill people as strangers.
There should not be any distinction between hills and valley. Meiteis were also originally “tribes” though they had settled down in the valley.
Where did they (Meiteis) live when the valley was full of water?
Very often we have come across two communities from the hills -claiming Home Land (Kuki State from the lands of Manipur) and another demand by NSCN (IM) was for slicing off 4 (four) districts of Manipur viz. (1) Tamenglong, (ii) Chandel, (iii) Ukhrul and (iv) Senapati from the lands of Manipur both of which became a threat to Territorial Integrity of Manipur.
Manipur is unbreakable. Neither all the lands of Manipur could be partitioned under Indian Law of Partition nor was there any right on the part of any Ethnic Group of Manipur to claim this and that land as their home land.
Everyone is aware of the fact that (Kangleipak) was a sovereign country – ruled and governed by the Kings having its own unique history inclusive of its own boundaries – recognized by neighbouring as well as prominent countries of the world wherein all the Ethnic groups of people of the Kingdom of Kangleipak lived together from time immemorial and within its areas there was no specific areas of land which can be called Kuki land, Nagaland, Kom land, Maring land, Kabui land, Meitei pangal land, Paite land, Chothe land, Meetei/ Meitei – majority peoples ‘ land – so on and so forth – and as such no community has right to claim “HOME LAND” from the entire areas of land of Manipur.
All the land within the geographical boundaries of Manipur (Kangleipak) belonged to the Government of Manipur.
Why people of Manipur of this 2Pl Century generation tend to forget that MANIPUR (Kangleipak) was once a sovereign country till before the Anglo -Manipur War, 1891. Under the supreme command of the kings of Manipur, HILLS and VALLEY people were ruled till before the 27th April, 1891. This fact is well proved. British people also supported this view. That is why many British Authors who wrote books about Manipur always address “HILLS UNDER MANIPUR RULE”.
Aiming at the provision of Article 3 of the Indian Constitution would be fruitless. Two or three groups of people cannot invoke the contents of Article 3 of the Constitution of India. Government of India does not have child ‘s brain. Everything is stored in the proper place. Government of India knew it well that 36 Ethnic Groups of people of Manipur are the bonafide citizens of India. Government of India would not commit grave mistake which would lead to bloodshed from amongst the ethnic communities of Manipur.
In order to run the Government smoothly – giving full satisfaction to the people of hills and valley and to avoid unreasonable claims in future, the author of this article would like to urge the Government of Manipur, headed by Shri Okram Ibobi Singh, Chief Minister of Manipur to take up two important issues on top priority basis :-
(i) Amendment to Article 3 of the Indian Constitution :
Proposed words for insertion : “This Article 3 of the Indian Constitution shall be inapplicable to the state of Manipur for protection of its territorial integrity”.
(ii) Amendment to Manipur Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act, I960 (MLR& LR Act, 1960)
Proposed words for insertion : For brining in one uniform Revenue law in the state of Manipur this Act is hereby extended to the entire hill areas of Manipur.
These two Amendments would give everlasting
“PEACE, ONENESS, UNITY & COMMUNAL HARMONY” to the people of hills and valley of Manipur.