By: Leishangthem Dijen
Apropos Dinesh Sharma’s “Introspection : A blog on ILP” published in August, 2015 in your esteem daily/news portal, Mr. Sharma’s account is really touching, no doubt. But the matter of unchecked influx of Nepali and Bangladeshi migrants into Manipur is a fact.
We know the Nepali/Gurkha people arrived in Manipur in the 19th century as mercenaries employed by the British Colonial power. They were stationed in Imphal as guards, for the British political agent both before and after 1891, Anglo-Manipuri war. When war broke out between the Manipuris and the British; the colonial power largely used the Nepali/Gurkha mercenaries to attack Manipur from both Burma and India front. Indeed the loyalty of the Nepali/Gurkha mercenaries to the British are known the world over. Till today Britain has maintained its Gurkha Rifles.
During the British period the mainstay of the British forces in Manipur were the Nepali/Gurkha mercenaries when the British left Manipur on August 14, 1947 not all Nepali/Gurkha mercenaries left Manipur along with the British. That was how Nepali settlement officially originated in Manipur that MK. Binodini d/o Maharaja Churachand Singh reportedly did not know as Mr. Sharma have mentioned in his write-up.
It needs to be known that when Gambhir Singh and the British made the deal to drive the Burmese out from Manipur, the limited service of the Gurkha/Nepali mercenaries were part of the deal. The British helped Manipur for their own interests and the Nepalis/Gukhas cannot claim credit for it because they were only serving the British.
Another claim that Mr. Sharma made was the nationality of “Major Subedar Niranjan Singh Chhetry”. We know that the Nepalese/Gorkha in Manipur make a strong claim that “Niranjan Subedar” was a Nepali/Gorkha”. They even observe his death anniversary. But the fact is “Niranjan Subedar” as he was lovingly known by this name, was a Hindustani.
Hindustanis both —- Brahmin and non-Brahmin, who came to Manipur from time to time became part of the Manipuri society and they become one of us, though they identify themselves as Sharma, Kshetri or Chhetry (as spelt by the Nepalese/Gurkha), Roy, etc.; Even Chinese and Kabow (Ava) were amalgamated into our society in the early period as recorded in our Puya (ancient chronicles) Indeed ours is a crucible pot like the Americans are. And there is no problem about it.
We welcome guests. We receive and entertain our guests. But we have a tiny population of around 21 lakhs consisting of native/indigenous Kuki, Meetei, Naga and Pangal (Meetei Muslim) against a total population of 1.25 billion Indians.
The estimated migrant population in Manipur is around 7 lakhs which constitutes a-fourth of the population. If this trend is not stopped the indigenous/native population of Manipur would be reduced to a minority in another 2 or 3 decades like in the case of Sikkim and Tripura. But one thing, those who came before 1951 have no problem; they become Manipuris.
Would any society or state in India or any country in the world ever accept it? This is the grim reality in Manipur today and people are fighting for their survival. Hope every right thinking human being would agree with us.
Read Dinesh Sharma’s article on ILP – “Introspection: A blog on ILP”