Beginning of the End: Necessity of an International Boundary Commission


By Dr S R Mangang

A commission between India (on behalf of Manipur) and Myanmar will solve and resolve all unresolved border and boundary disputes and security fencing, including Kubo Valley. I quote related International Law, “The two most important principles in the creation and implementation of international rights and obligations are the principle of consent and the principle of good faith. State conduct is in the present context relevant only as far as it represents one of the legally recognized means of manifesting State consent to be legally bound.” Internet Sources. It is for bilateral or multilateral treatise applicable at peace time. However, Government of India (GOI) can create a unilateral treaty on behalf of Manipur or may delegate power with due sanction of authority to the Government of Manipur (GOM) when Myanmar did not listen to what we said or illegally did fencing or trespassed into our land beyond the no man’s land line. International Law says: “The State’s capacity to act (or not to act) unilaterally in a given case or a set of circumstances and the corresponding legal effects are not directly based on the specific consent of other State(s), but rather on the individual right of the State in question. This absence of the specific consent of other State(s) is the essential meaning of the term »unilateral« in the context of unilateral acts.” – Internet Sources.

Both GOM and GOI must have a common understanding and mutual trust to each other before creating the proposed permanent body, called Man-Myanmar Boundary Commission (MMBC) using their respective national flags, seals and emblems; but as for Manipur, the national emblem will top state emblem. Both the Commissioners shall prepare an Annual Joint Report to webcast and distribute hard copies. The report consisting of an overview of activities with short and long term maintenance plans shall be published on-line also while minimizing expenditure of printing and distribution. Publication of Report shall run into two parts of narrative and technical. The narrative shall occupy the MMBC website allowing any visitor to view it and comment. The technical portion shall occupy the Geographic Information System (GIS) data base to store all appendices of the MMBC. The Commission shall have limited hard copies for formal distribution and archival purposes only.

Object and Reason is to fulfill all treatise and agreements affecting the common boundary neglected for centuries with or without reasoning. It will avoid bureaucratic work style, colonial tendency, corrupted mentality, dishonest community service and delaying tactics of both GOI and GOM. It will use the historical background of one time sovereign Manipur as its yardstick and the past geographical boundary of Manipur will speak correctly Manipur’s border locations. Let the Commission come into existence soon, because “Prevention is better than cure.” Many of our people sacrificed and martyred in similar issues. The urgent task of GOI is to stop immediately the Man-Myanmar Border Fencing Work now continuing as “Security Fencing” and maintain the “Status Quo” on the basis of the state of affairs, because “The pen is mightier than the sword.” The Hindu reported 10 October this year: “Notwithstanding the strident public outcry and political storm, including an all-political parties meeting at the office of Chief Minister Okram Ibobi ……. the controversial construction of the border fence in some portions of the 396 km long Manipur-Myanmar border continued. ………………..a question of checking infiltration of militants across the border, …………….Border Roads Organisation is constructing the fence under the supervision of Assam Rifles. …………the government had started construction of the 10 km long fence at Moreh ……………had to be suspended due to some objections from Myanmar. …….. resumed by constructing the fence deep inside Manipur…… the fence will pass through 18 villages ………..”

Security Fencing will do nothing against insurgency in Manipur save the national liberation movement, because we have various Treatise, Conventions, Protocols, decisions and awards between British India or India and Manipur and Myanmar including ad-hoc ones; Anglo-Manipuri Treaty, 1762; Yandaboo Treaty, 1826; Kubo Valley Agreement, 1834; Gumbheer Sing- Grant Agreement, 1835; Pemberton Report, 1835; Johnstone Boundary Commission, 1877-86; Indian Independence Act, 1947; Manipur Merger Agreement, 1949;  Nehru-U nu Agreement, 1953; Indo-Burmese Agreement, 1967; Indo-Myanmar Agreement, 1980 and others.  

A Treaty (preferably Bilateral) shall exist first of all with a mandate to maintain the boundary under the supervision of the two Commissioners. The following findings made to hasten the proposal to correct the continuing mistakes mentioned more or less inter alias by Geographer Dr Laiba Mangang: Boundary of Kangleipak, published in the Imphal Free Press on 18 October, 2013: “Prior to Maharaja Gambhir Singh ….. the boundaries of Manipur were unstable and fluctuate from time to time. …..extended upto the Brahmaputra Valley ….. controlled entire South Cachar ….. and entire Kabow Valley …… some portion of Southern China, Chittagong Hill Tract ….. Gambhir Singh obtained British help and expelled the Burmese army from the Kabow Valley and the Burmese war was ended with a grand victory. …. “Treaty of Yandabo” …, 1826 and Gambhir Singh was recognized as the Raja of Manipur …… 91 sq. km. of land area of Manipur is suddenly reduced from its actual total geographical areas …. 22,437 in 1901 …. and 22,346 ….. in 1961 census. Again, ….. was 22,356 in 1971 census report. …… reduced to 22,327 in 1981…… How far this total geographical area is correct …. the surveyed area is about 2,253 sq. km. ….. “No Land Policy” ……….Indo-Myanmar Agreement of 1980 is a part of …..1967. ……invalid Agreement because both the parties did not sign…..”

The author conducted Survey Cum Research Expeditions separately in Chandel District, October – November, 1986 and Ukhrul District, February – April, 1987 and found Boundary Pillars missing in Molcham and Moreh areas but in New Somtal areas Myanmar currency overshadowed Indian currency and Myanmarese trespassed and encroached Manipur agricultural fertile fields; Myanmar trapped boundary roads reaching almost the villages. In Ukhrul District border, Manipuri villagers went to the nearby Myanmar markets in absence of road connectivity from Manipur side. Myanmar border guards were very inquisitive with poor equipment but Indian Border Security Force were not so with required equipment.

A Commission may start to work effective this year of 2013, under due process of Law, international and national. The proposed enactment shall appoint two Commissioners, who are already expert Geographer or Surveyor, one by Myanmar and another by Manipur to locate and mark the boundary line initially on the basis of International Boundary Study, No. 80 – May 15, 1968: Burma – India Boundary (Country Codes: BM-IN): “……1967 Boundary Agreement is the first act to delimit the entire Burma – India boundary. …..numerous earlier treaties and acts have affected …………..Burmese overran Manipur in 1769 ………….ending …… in 1826. Difficulties …………. did not end ………. regarding the Kubo Valley, negotiated ………. 1834………….. 1833 negotiated …. delimiting the boundary along the foothills of the ranges to the west of the Kubo……….. this boundary line has become a part of the present border. The boundary is referred to as Pemberton Line, ……………… In 1881, Col. Johnstone resurveyed the Pemberton Line ………. thereby ending three-quarters of a century of dispute. ……….. remained unsettled, ….. until 1885 ……………  In 1894, the Manipur – Chin Hills boundary was demarcated, and in 1896 Col. Maxwell redemarcated the Pemberton – Johnstone area, placing thirty-eight pillars …………. These are referred to by number in the 1967 Agreement. ………… After World War II, both Burma and India ….. gained their independence ……. No Burma – India boundary was specified …………….. border was left to the newly independent governments. ….. Boundary Agreement between …….. India and ………… Burma, 1967. ….. The treaty ties together the many acts and international agreements …………. final boundary demarcation is still to be accomplished … .. Macmahan line….”

The two Commissioners shall work in their respective countries, maintain an effective demarcation, and use their own staff, equipment on the basis of an annual budget. Each will inspect boundary lines regularly, repair, relocate and rebuild pillars or monuments if damaged, keeping the vista cleared and erect new boundary markers at such locations as new road crossings. Each will report annually on the work done during the year and provide to both the governments the latest data on the boundary pillars and monuments. Each is responsible to define the boundary location in any legal situation involving the border, if any construction done within 3 meters or 10 feet of the boundary. Its Survey Crews (SC) are the most important staff as they have to predetermine any position of a monument or pillar at any given time, when called on constantly to perform assorted survey duties along the border. They shall control stations established for the purpose of tying in with the survey networks of both countries and improve survey connections to the control stations and establish new pillar or monuments.

(Author, an Expedition Worker, Journalist, Translator, Writer and Lawyer and may contact his email: [email protected])


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here