HIJAM IRABOT’ (30 September 1896 to 26 September 1951)
1896: Hijam Irabot was born on 30th September. His father was Hijam Ibungohal. His mother was Chongtham ningol Hijam (o) Thambalngangbi. He was born at Nambul Mapal Oinam Leikai, Imphal (Manipur).
*He was given various tittles; Jana-Neta (Leader of the people) by Cacharis, Simanta Prahari (Sentinel of the Frontier) by Hemango Biswas, Afoji (elder comrade in Burmese) by the then Burmese Communist Party, and Comrade Ahal by the then armed Manipur Red Guards.
1913: Irabot studied class V / VI at Jonostone School. After that he left for East Bangladesh for further studies. He dropped out without completing class VII. For about two years he roamed/ visited many places.
1917: Irabot came back to Manipur
1922– Irabot attended a meeting addressed by Gandhi in Calcutta. He founded Imphal Town Club. A magazine titled Meetei Chanu was launched that published noted poems such as Meetei Chanu written by Dr. Kamal and Basanta Leirang by Ashangbam Mineketan.
1924: Irabot was married to princess Khomdonsana. They did not have a child.
1925: Irabot acted in a play called Narasingh written by Lairenmayum Ibungohal.
1927: Irabot began to teach at Moirangkhom L.P. School.
1928: Irabout founded Yaiskul Nupimacha School Drama Party as an initiative towards found girls’ school.
1929: Manipur Government approved Irabot’s collection of poems titled Sidam Seirang as textbook for class V.
1930: Irabot was appointed as member of Sadar Panchayat. He was paid Rs. 25 monthly salary and awarded 25 hectors tax free land.
1931: Irabot published translated version of a novel titled Mohini in the series publication of the journal Yakairol.
1932: Irabot founded Seva Marup.
1933: Irabot founded Surma Valley Manipur Association, Surma Valley Manipur Society and Manipur Sabha. His book Dalil Amasung Darkhast Iba was printed.
1934: The name of Manipur Sabha was changed to Nikhil Hindu Manipur Maha Sabha. The first session of the NMHMS was held at Imphal.
1935: Irabot founded Goura Dharma Pracharini. The organisation stood for the cause of down-casted untouchable persons and families. He won legal fight against Bramha Sabha on caste rules. He founded Manipuri Sangeet Samelini. Later on it became Manipuri Sahitya Parishad.
1936: The second session of NMHMS was held at Tarapur in Silchar. He founded Krishi Samelini at Nambol.
1937: Third meeting of NMHMS was at Mandalay (Burma).
1938: Fourth session of NMHMS was at Chinga. The name of NMHMS was changed to Nikhil Manipur Maha Sabha.
1939: Irabot founded Nikhil Manipur Yuva Sangha at Tuko in Cachar. The second Nupi Lan broke out.
1940: Irabot founded Manipur Praja Samelini and Manipuri Mahila Samelini. He was convicted three years imprisonment and jailed in Imphal. On 21st March he was shifted to Sylhet jail in East Bangladesh.
1941: Irabot met Indian communist leaders in Sylhet jail.
1942: Irabot wrote collection of poems entitled Imagi Puja and a political booklet entitled Capitalism. He became a communist. After release from Jail he was not allowed entry to Manipur. He stayed in Cachar. He attended the 7th session of Indian Kisan Sabha’s in Punjab. He attended the first congress of the Communist Party of India in Bombay.
1944: Hemango Bishwanath Swadeshi Ganar Dal was established and strong ‘Peasants Movement’ was started. He was imprisoned for 4months by British Government.
1945: Irabot was released. He attended the meeting at Shillong in regards to the British Government’s proposed formation of Purbanchal State.
1946: He contested the Assam Provincial election. After 6 years, he came back to Manipur. He founded Manipur Praja Mandal. The Praja Mandal along with NMMS resolved to oppose the proposed formation of Purbanchal. Krisi Samelini was rechristened as Krishak Sabha and its 2nd session was held. Manipur Praja Samelini and Manipur Praja Mandal were merged to constitute Manipur Praja Sangha.
1947: Weekly magazine Anouba Yuk was launched. Praja Sangha organised of joint Hill and Valley convention at MDU Hall to defend the integrity of Manipur.
1948: Irabot attended the second congress of the Communist of Party of India. The first Manipur State Assembly election was held. Irabot won election as Krishak Sabha candidate from Utlou constituency. CPI Manipur unit was established with Irabot as the President. After the incident of Pungdongbam Irabot went into underground.
1950: Irabot escaped to Burma.
1951: Irabot died in Taungbo (Burma) due to illness.
1976: September 30 was declared State-holiday to commemorate the birth anniversary of Irabot.
1987: Irabot’s collection of poem entitled Imagi Puja was published. His book Capitalism was published by Manipur State CPI unit.
1977: Irabot was posthumously awarded Kabi Ratana by the Manipur Sahitya Parishad.
1998: The Government of India released a commemorative stamp in the name of Irabot.
Towards Communist Line
* During the Nupi Lan, that broke out from 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 met 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-tea garden 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 1944, he went to Bejwada (Katakual Village) to join the Kishan Conference and stayed for some time 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 Kishan 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 February 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 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 MDU Hall, on 21 September 1948, to protest against the proposed formation of Purbachal Pradesh, comprising Manipur, Tripura, Cachar and Lushai Hills. A scuffle took place at
Pungdongbam when the Manipur State Police prevented a group of citizens who came to attend the meeting; in which a police officer was 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 into 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, due to illness, at the Taungbo village at the foot of Anggo Hills of the then Burma on 26th September, 1951.
Sources: 1 Thounaojam Chanu Ibemhal (2015). Ta Ung Bo: Irabot ki Aroiba Yahip. Imphal: Meino & Khomdon Foundation. 2 (2015) Comrade Irabot and the Way Forward. New Delhi: MSAD, IRCC and CPDM. Published for internal circulation by Irabot Day Celebration Committee 2017, New Delhi
1. Thounaojam Chanu Ibemhal (2015). Ta Ung Bo: Irabot ki Aroiba Yahip. Imphal: Meino & Khomdon Foundation.
2. Comrade Irabot and the Way Forward (2015) . New Delhi: MSAD, IRCC and CPDM. Published for internal circulation by Irabot Day Celebration Committee 2017, New Delhi
Published for internal circulation by Irabot Day Celebration Committee 2017, New Delhi