By Dr. Laiba Mangang
Prior to Maharaja Gambhir Singh (1823 to Jan. 1834), the youngest son of Maharaja Jai Singh (Bheigyachandra Maharaj) the boundaries of Manipur were unstable and fluctuate from time to time. During the year 1763, her territories extended upto the Brahmaputra Valley (Lohitya), and controlled entire South Cachar upto 1832 and entire Kabow Valley (Kyampao Lamjao) and some portion of Souther China, Chittagong Hill Tract etc. (Vide Map of Mainland South East Asia, adopted from the London atlas of Universal Geography by John Arrowsmith, F.R.G.A. & R.A.S, London, 1832). Maharaj Gambhir Singh obtained British help and expelled the Burmese army from the Kabow Valley and the Burmese war was ended with a grand victory. Thus, the “Treaty of Yandabo” was signed on February 24, 1826 and Gambhir Singh was recognized as the Raja of Manipur till he expired on 9th Jan. 1834, on this day, Kabow Valley was also transferred to Burma by the Britishers, leaving a minor son the Raja Kirti Singh, who was finally acknowledged by the British Government.
On the suggestions from Major Burney, the resident at Ava (Burma) the Kabow Valley Treaty was signed in the year 1834 between Burma and the British for handing over Kabow Valley, a portion of Manipur territory to Burma. Acknowledging the territorial jurisdiction of Manipur over Kabow Valley, and to make good for the loss by such transfer, the said treaty had provided that Manipur has to be given 6,000 rupees per year (i.e. 900 Kyiats/annum) as compensation on the condition that such payment would cease on the day the said territory was retro ceded to Manipur.
According to Alexander Mackenzie, in his book “The North-East Frontier of India” Page 150, 151 & 152 stated that “The Manipur Levy was formed in the year 1823 and British Government opened communication with Maharaj Gambhir Singh, thus, 500 Manipuri was under his command in driving the Burmese out of Cachar. But in the year 1825 this force was increased to 2,000 men under the command of Captain Grant and was paid, accoutred and supplied with ammunition by the British Government, subsequently by the Ava Treaty of 1826, Gambhir was recognized as the Raja of Manipur.
The Treaties of 1833 and 1834 said that the Raja will, agreeable to instructions, without delay, remove his Thanna from Chandrapore, and established it on the Eastern Bank of the Jeeree (Jiribam) and by the treaty of 1834 the Kabow Valley was transferred from Manipur to Burma, and a money compensation was awarded to the Raja by the British Government in the shape of a stipend of Rs. 6,000 per annum”.
Here, one point should be noted that the foot print of Gambhir Singh with the symbol of lion etc. was installed at Thibommei (Kohima), the territory of Manipur.
Although the Treaty of 1834, stipulated the Kabo Valley would revert to Manipur in case of ‘non-payment’ they (Burmese) failed to pay it after Merger Agreement with India in 1949. It is said that the Kabow Valley was again handed over to the Burmese Authorities by the then Pandit Jawaharal Nehru in the year 1953 when he met U-nu, the leader of Burma at Mao village of Manipur. But, this was done without the consent of Parliament of India and people of Manipur. Still, the question of Kabow Valley has arises among the youths of Manipur.
Thus, the present position of the state was demarcated by a boundary commission under James Johnstone, the Political Agent of Manipur (1877 – 1886) during the reign of Maharaja Chandrakriti Singh. After the Third Anglo Burmese War (1885) and Anglo – Manipur War (1891), this new demarcation was accepted by all the parties.
Until now, Manipur has a number of its own international and interstate boundary problems. Border dispute with her neighbouring states and foreign countries like Nagaland, Mizoram and Myanmar (Burma) can be cited. Still the border between Manipur and Mizoram is not properly maintained and a lot of problems are created by in migrant people from the Chin hills through Mizoram. As mentioned above, these boundaries were demarcated during the British Rule and it used to follow some ridges or courses of rivers. Britishers used to place “Great Trigonometrical Survery” (G.T.S.) in every places of Manipur. Formerly, G.T.S. pillars were located at Kangla, Koubru, Laimaton etc. But all these G.T.S. pillars, log, map and field books seems to loss in the recent years. Not only boundary problem of Manipur, the hill pockets (especially agricultural lands) are also not properly surveyed. In the valley area (i.e. 1/10 of its total geographic area) are having land record and recently computerized. So, it clearly indicate that
Manipur is a land in the world where no land records are maintained.
Out of her 934 km. of total border length (British Political Agency in Manipur, 1835 – 1947) about 390 Km. (i.e. 390.20 km.) are International Boundary and remaining 544 km. are interstate boundary. According to Arts, Science Department of Manipur University, (Huyen Lanpao, P. 4, Sept. 28, 2013, Saturday), the International boundary at Ukhrul area is 155.10 km., Chandel is 152.70 km., Churachandpur is 82.41 km. respectively.
Moreover, border disputes, with Nagaland, Mizoram and Myanmar are at some places like Jesami (Ukhrul District), T.B. Hospital of Mao area, Lothopond and Juko Valley of Senapati District, Tungjoy and Laiseraphin along the Nagaland border (interstate) and Molcham valley and Tuibong village of Chandel district (area about 6.sq. km.) Mongkhang Khunou (to the South West direction of Moreh town, i.e. distance about 4 km.) of Chandel district; along the Burma border (international) line etc. Boundary problem at Behiyang or Bheng valley (near Singhat, international border area) and the Parbung village (Mizoram border) of Churachandpur District are also reported.
These border village of Manipur do not possess good roadway and electricity. But the border villages of Nagaland and Burma have such basic facilities. Moreover, the border villages of Manipur near Burma border are in a bad-shape. They are too worst and remote. Even they don’t know Indian currency. The basic infrastructures like roadway, electricity, education, health care etc. are not available to those villages and no security measures are also made available to the remote villagers. So, the daily needs of these villages are all depends upon the consumer goods of Burma. They used the Burmese currency for this purpose and they also received some medical treatments from Burmese doctors. They are also receiving Burmese education and the Burmese army extended their highways, inside the border villages of Manipur. The pillar No. 66 (near Tamu – Kalawa road of Burma) is missing. Not only the Molcham village, but also Choro Khunou in the Burmese map is a part of Manipur. Choro Khunou near old boundary pillar No. 6 is settled by Kuki (Haokip) people. It is in the Phungyar constituency of Ukhrul District. In these areas, they (Burmese) exploited the forest wealth of Manipur and chromite deposited at Chatric Khunou are also explored by the Geological Survey of Burma in the year 1975. The border pillar No. 113 (east of Kamjong near Choro village) is there in between Ango hill and a river.
It is reported that Burma authority wanted to exchange the Molcham village of Manipur with the following areas:
1. Choro village – 4.93 sq. km.
2. South of Moreh Bridge – 0.85 km.
3. Some area near Moreh – 0.22 sq. km.
Total – 6 sq. km.
Thus, pillar No. 21 at Moreh and Kabow valley have become a bone of contention between India and Burma.
As we all know, there are many international border problem in between pillar No. 32 upto pillar no. 130. The most disputed border pillar numbers are 66, 76, 78, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 etc.
According to Indo-Myanmar Agreement, 1980, which is not fully implemented both the parties are no signed some part of these agreement has a proposal to offer 3.70 km. of land near Pillar No. 90 and 91 at Choro village (Ukhrul) or to offer the Tuibong village of Churachandpur near the missing pillar No. 66.
Recently, one army camp of Myanmar was installed near pillar No. 23. It is also believed that the border pillar Nos. 21 and 23 may be the pillar No. 78 and 76 respectively. Holemphai village is situated near pillar No. 76. It is about 3 km. to the southern part of the Moreh Police Station. It is also reported that the Burmese authority installed pillar No. 23 instead of missing pillar No. 76. Moreover a Muslim village is also situated near the pillar No. 79.
Thus, the Burmese Authority installed another pillar No. 21 instead of missing pillar No. 78 near Tamil Sangram’s Temple. Moreover, between the pillar No. 79 and 81, there is another one Gate No. 18 and Gobjang village. This gate No. 18 is officially recognized but some of houses (about 15 houses) of Gobjang village 3 km. from Moreh (between pillar 79 and 80) may be separated by the new security fencing or border fencing of India. The pillar No. 33 (old) was substituted by pillar No. 66 (new) and there are many such cases. Thus border pillar numbers 76, 78, 79, 80 are highly sensitive.
The affected villagers of Manipur due to the recent border / security fencing of India are Ansatang, Ankakhanu, Lamlong Khunou, Waksu, Rilyam Centre, Kharou Khullen, Leibi, Choktong, Saibol, Moirengthel, Kwatha Khunou, Gobjang, Al-Solphei, Bonyang village etc.
Here, mentioned can be made of Indo-Burmese Agreement of March 10, 1967 at Rangoon (Burma) by the Indo-Burma Boundary Commission was having a draft resolution. But, the draft resolution had to be implemented when there is some mutual understanding and signatures have to be done later on. So, it is an invalid agreement.
Moreover 91 sq. km. of land area of Manipur is suddenly reduced from its actual total geographical areas as found in the report of Register General of India i.e. 22,437 sq.km. in 1901 upto 1951 census and 22,346 sq.km. of land area in 1961 census. Again, the total geographical area was 22,356 sq.km. in 1971 census report.
Thus, it has reduced to 22,327 sq.km. in 1981 census onwards. Thus another 29 sq.km. of land area of Manipur has lost during the 1971 census to 1981 census uptil now. How far this total geographical area is correct or incorrect is also not known to us.
Still, out of the total geographic area i.e. 22,327 sq.km. (2013) the surveyed area is about 2,253 sq. km. and un-surveyed area is about 20,074 sq.km. So, state has “No Land Policy” as a whole.
Moreover, Indo-Myanmar Agreement of 1980 is a part of Indo-Burmese Agreement of 1967. It is also invalid Agreement because both the parties does not signed some parts of the agreement.
So, the most upto date reliable demarcation of the interstate and international boundaries to settle the boundary disputes in view of this sensitive and strategic important hilly state of Manipur in North – East India, is highly required.
(The auther is the Head of Deptt. (Geography) Modern College, Imphal, Manipur)