by M. Nilamani
Manipur, once a sovereign kingdom having unique history of its own since 33 AD till before the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891 which resulted in the loss of Manipur’s sovereignty for a period commencing from the 27th of April, 1891 till before the midnight of August, 1947, had come across many unprecedented and unwanted atmospheres counting from the time of British Rule till the present Rule of our own people over our own state. These ugly atmospheres approaching from different angles led the people of hills and valley of Manipur to the path of hell instead of leading to heaven. People of Manipur have also lost full confidence on the Govt. of Manipur accompanied with fears in their minds on State Security and Para Military Forces stationed at various places of Manipur whose day to day activities shown under the shadow of Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 in connection with the suppression of many insurgent groups operating in Manipur ultimately caused loss of innocent human lives on fake encounters since its imposition till date. Almighty God knows when this infamous and most controversial Act, provisions of which were, once, the weapons of British Rule in India against lakhs of Indians who sacrificed their lives for liberating India from the hands of British people, would be repealed ?
Recent steps taken up by Home Minister P. Chidambaram for amendment to the provisions of infamous Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 would be more dangerous as before unless the Act itself is totally repealed in the interest of General Public of North Eastern Regions & Jammu and Kashmir.
Particularly people of Manipur would be extremely happy, the moment AFSPA 1958 is repealed and it becomes inoperative in the state of Manipur. Such generous act of Govt. of India would save the life of IROM CHANU SHARMILA, most precious product of Manipur. She is Jewel of not only of Manipur (her birth place) but also an ideal girl of the whole Universe.
Will power, strong determination, and extraordinary courage inherent in the blood and mind of IROM CHANU SHARMILA who has recently crossed 10th year of her journey to “FAST UNTO DEATH” till Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 is repealed – has been wide spread in the world. United Nations had full knowledge of her unprecedented venture sacrificing most precious youthful life span of ten years which is still being continued till the draconian Act is repealed.
God knows – as to how long her fate will have to face such intolerable sufferings. Before anything – reaction to her “FAST UNTO DEATH” becomes worse – Govt. of Manipur as weli as Govt. of India ought to take up immediate steps for repealing AFSPA 1958 from the soil of Manipur. This is the only solution which will open a new path for the rest of Sharmila’s life.
Imposition of this controversial AFSPA 1958 on the people of Manipur for such a long period of years did not bring in good fruits to both the Govt. of India and Manipur Govt. Neither the underground movements of hills and valley could be totally suppressed nor was the killings of insurgents and innocent public under fake encounters could render valuable solution to the vexed law and order problems of Manipur. What brought by operation of this infamous Act in this fertile soil of Manipur was public anger against excesses committed by Security Forces. The volumes of anger in the minds of general public increased in as much as the crimes, killings and fake encounters were found committed very often. Justice Jeevan Reddy Commission had minutely studied evils brought by the provisions of Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 and submitted its final report to the Govt. of india. Even the Prime Minister of India did not fully support the provisions of this controversial Act and in its place he wanted a law which is more humane and justifiable to the people.
Everyone is aware of the fact that on the 14th of August, 1947 exactly at midnight, British Authority under the supreme command and order of the Queen of England delivered the Kingdom of Manipur to Maharaj Bodhchandra, the then King of Manipur.
Late Maharaj Bodhchandra could not hold his kingship for longer period of time. With the enactment of Manipur State Constitution Act 1947, general election was held in the year 1948 and thereafter state Govt. of Manipur was formed and run by Elected Representatives of the people of Manipur.
Partition of India and Pakistan was effected in the month of August 1947. Pakistan became an independent country on the 14th of August, 1947 while India’s Independence Day was on the 15th of August, 1947. Manipur became an independent country after the midnight of 14th August, 1947 i.e. a few hours ahead of India’s Independence. Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947 is much older than the Indian Constitution.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was the 1st Prime Minister of India, Sardar Ballabvai Patel was one of the most trusted political personalities and close Associates of Pandit Nehru by whose policy and careful handling of delicate and very complicated situation relating to the scope of expansion of the Indian Dominion over the North Eastern Regions – like Manipur, an independent country having unique history of its own for more than two thousands years and Tripura Kingdom were very easily taken and kept under Indian Dominion.
Governor of Assam also took vital role during the process of crucial talks and before the Merger Agreement was signed at Shillong.
Merger Agreement was signed at Shillong in the month of September, 1949 and thereafter on the 15th of October, 1949 Manipur was merged with the dominion of India and became part of India.
From the legal point of views, question arises as to how Manipur became part of India on the strength and basis of the Merger Agreement signed by Maharaj Bodhchandra who, at the time of signing the Merger Agreement, had no authority or power to sign or execute any deed on behalf of the Govt. of Manipur which was absolutely run by People’s Elected Representatives.
Here, mention may be made that any instrument or agreement whatever it might have been, signed or alleged to have been signed by the king Bodhchandra during British Rule in India as well as in Manipur can’t be enforced by any individual or a state or nations after the British Rule in Manipur ceased to operate and Manipur became, again an independent country and as such Maharaj Bodhchandra can’t be implicated in the matter of any instrument or agreement if any, alleged to have been signed by him during British Rule in Manipur since Manipur was under the absolute control and Authority of British People till before the handing over of Kingdom of Manipur to the king on the 14th of August, 1947. Manipur was annexed by British Crown after the defeat of Manipuris in Anglo-Manipur War of 1891. Legal jurisdiction and authority were in the hands of crown of England. Maharaj of Manipur had lost sovereign authority. He had lost all his powers to rule Manipur since after 27th April, 1891 till before the midnight of 14th of August, 1947. Any act committed or anything done implicating Maharaj of Manipur during British rule cannot, under any circumstances, be validated as legal authority as if acted on behalf of the people of Manipur. Prior to midnight of 14th August, 1947 signing of any agreement or any instrument of Accession shall be deemed to have been done illegally. Only the sovereign state has the authority to enter into such instrument.
Manipur, which was a sovereign kingdom ruled by the kings from the year 33 AD till before Anglo-Manipur War of 1891, had never in the annals of its political Administration, come across such prevailing political, social and religious conflicts arising out of 36 Ethnic groups of people whose motherland is Manipur to which they all owe allegiance. After the loss of sovereignty of Manipur at the hands of Britishers in the Anglo-Manipur War 1891, the entire areas of hills and valley of Manipur were almost under the control and jurisdiction of British Authority.
Geographical areas of Manipur were made into three divisions viz (i) Hills, (ii) Valley and (iii) British Reserved areas which distinctly and directly divide hills and valley having two different sets of new religions, (i) Christianity in the hills and (ii) Vaisnavism in the valley which was absolutely controlled by Bramha Sabha (composed of prominent figures of religion and Religious fundamentalist located at the Royal Palace).
Too much religious mindedness and orthodox way of life of valley people being influenced by new religion (Vaisnavism) under the strict guidelines of Bramha Sabha brought about a new shape of life styles and changed the attitudes of new converts whereby question of nature of un-touchability of inferior classes of people as adopted in many parts of India in ancient times by religious Hindu extremists seemed to have taken birth amongst the new converts of Vaisnavism which ultimately resulted in bringing unprecedented episode of class system though not fully supported by masses of valley people. Many unwanted religious reforms and changes were made in respect of original rites, rituals of valley people and introduction of observance of new form of ceremony after the death of valley people could also be seen throughout the valley areas with the exception of Sanamahi groups of people who opposed to the newly introduced “Vaisnavism”.
On the other side, many people of hills became converts of Christianity, a religion which was foreign to them. Before the Britishers landed in Manipur there was no Christian in the hills. In the hills there are still many groups of people belonging to different communities (ethnic groups) who opposed foreign religion and stick to their original traditions and religions which were professed by their forefathers, since time immemorial.
Two sets of religions professed by the people of hills and valley which were alien to them became a hidden curtain from amongst our own people who, once enjoyed peaceful co-existence and communal harmony for the last about two thousand years.
Dirty politics played by shrewd and opportunist politicians of both the hills and valley of Manipur had become a contributory factor for the present conflict situation between hills and valley.
During British Rule in Manipur, Christianity was introduced by Rev. Pettigrew while “Vaisnavism” was in the height of its popularity from amongst half of the Meitei majority community of valley areas.
These two streams viz Dirty Politics and religions of Manipur professed by new converts of hills and valley could be a cause for indicating a line of divide between hills and valley. Shrewd politicians took maximum advantage from these two streams at the time of election. However, whatever the attempts made by them, they could not severe age old ties between the people of hills and valley. Few section of people having vested interest would not be in a position to remove and throw away emotional brotherly and sisterly relationship between people of hills and valley.
When Manipur is seen from different angles, there is nothing worth remembering and appreciating. Peace, tranquifity, communal harmony and peaceful co-existence of indigenous people of Manipur before the Britishers landed and ruled over the entire areas of Manipur hills and valley had been out of sight and instead stake of various claims made by many ethnic groups which include demand for separate homeland of this and that areas as well as demand for slicing off four hill districts of Manipur viz Senapati, Tamenglong, Chandel and Ukhrul for Greater Nagalim, created conflict situations throughout the length and breadth of Manipur, consequences thereof had been causing unprecedented episodes of Economic Blockades, Bandhs, Strikes, Rallies over and above day-to-day extortion, collection of illegal taxes from the trucks plying on Highways No. 39 and 53 etc. etc.
Unwanted atmospheres in the valley areas were much more than the hill areas as per the records available through the publication of information in the local English and Manipuri Dailies as well as news aired by electronic media, ISTV.
Gun culture launched against the people or the insurgents of hills and valley of Manipur for suppressing any movement either lawful or unlawful by nature would not be able to stop underground movements. Political dialogue on the table between insurgent groups and the Govt. of India as well as State Govt. would be the only solution to the vexed law and order problems of Manipur.
Gun culture and fake encounters prevailing in the state of Manipur had contributed volumes of unexpressed anger in the minds of general public. Due to fear of consequences which may likely come-up as a revenge by security forces against the public, most of the people including well educated bonafide citizens suppressed their feelings of anger – with the exception of voices raised by JAC formed after the killings of A-B-C or any innocent person.
In Manipur – collective responsibilities and joint efforts in respect of anything concerning the state of Manipur has been out of question. Every individual prefers to remain far aloof from any issue of Manipur if the same is of vital importance politically, socially and legally. Since politics of Manipur has been found monopolized not by poor and educated citizens of Manipur but by moneyed men (apart from extra attitude of opportunist and shrewd nature inherent in them) who can afford to spend crores of rupees at the time of Election, showmanship with muscle powers in seen from these types of politicians.
Lust for wealth and power are the main objectives of politicians of Manipur. Economic, educational, cultural and social reforms are nil in Manipur when compared to developed states of India. Politics of Manipur has produced destructive elements of the whole societies of hills and valley. Birth of corruption and corrupt practices everywhere in every department of Manipur were the products of opportunist, shrewd and corrupt politicians.
Talk of the town about corruption in every Department Can’t be suppressed or wiped out unless appointments are made purely on the merits of the candidates. God knows – when this golden opportunity would step in on the fertile soil of Manipur which was once corruption free kingdom.
Taking account of what has been mentioned or said it is clear that all types of corruption and corrupt practices of Manipur cannot be reversed and put into normal position without a profound change on the political front.
But how profound change on the political front will be brought before the eyes of general public ?
First of all, before correcting opportunist and corrupt politicians who have the tendency to fight election through corrupt practices with investment of crores of rupees (meant for buying votes of literate and illiterate voters of hills and valley) for becoming wealthy and powerful men of Manipur, all the voters should be taught political lessons so as to enable them to acquire knowledge of the present system of “Election” which is based on “NUMBER GAME”. Money power is the only source of strength by which this “NUMBER GAME” could be won very easily. When there is no element of corruption in the Election – then only qualified and well reputed persons from amongst the lawyers, intellectuals and senior citizens of both the hills and valley of Manipur could be sent up as peoples’ candidates.
The curtain between the valley and hills can easily be removed provided hill politicians who joined politics for “Wealth and Powers” could give up this poisonous thought and instead lead the general public of hills to the right path for upliftment of hills in all the fields. There should not be any wrong instigation and fatal lesson for breaking age-old blood relationship with the valley people as part of political propaganda. These two groups of people should unite and live together in peace having communal harmony amongst them. They are inseparable under any given circumstances.
In the valley, election time is just like “Grand Festival” where money circulation of 500 and 1000 currency are abundantly found in the pockets of illiterate as well as literate voters. It is a shame on these people who sell their rights for money. First of all Metiei voters – males and females residing in the valley should be directly taught to group together and punish the bribe givers (candidates and their agents) treating them as criminals. It is easy to book them under the law. There should not be fear in the minds of general public.
As for the hills, the same procedure stated as aforesaid needs to be followed by the general public of hills, which will, in turn, produce good fruits to the people of hills at large.
Life styles of shrewd politicians who wrongly interpret and form the habit of giving wrong advice to the innocent villagers during election time is just like the venoms of dangerous snakes.
These types of politicians of both the hills and valley ought to know that the whole land of Manipur is the land of 36 ethnic groups of people which belonged to the Govt. of Manipur. Govt. of Manipur can acquire any part or portion of the land of Manipur under Land Acquisition Act, 1894 at anytime as and when required by the Govt. of Manipur. Map of Manipur drawn on a piece of paper can be torn into as many as 36 pieces and distribute the same to 36 groups of people but the land which is within physical boundaries of Manipur is inseparable. Hindu law of partition is inapplicable to the land of the Govt. of Manipur.
Those persons irrespective of cast, creed and religion who wish to go away from the soil of Manipur – may do so and settle any where even in foreign countries, but they cannot take away an inch of land with them.
Article 3 of the Indian Constitution is just like a trap which is kept open for suppressing any repressive or unacceptable demand made from any group of people. It cannot be invoked on demand of two or three groups of people. Govt. of india knew it well that Manipur had its own unique history. 36 groups of people are the bonafide citizens of Manipur who became Indian citizens just after the 15th of October, 1949. Diplomatically, Govt. of India, taking undue advantage of the political situation erupting in some vested interest groups of people may play political GAME OF DIVIDE AND RULE as temporary measures. But Govt. of India would not commit any act which is injurious to the whole people of Manipur and which affects the integrity of Manipur.
The spirit and courage of Manipuris sacrificing precious lives of 18 people on the issue of three words “WITHOUT TERRITORIAL LIMIT” contained in the Cease Fire Agreement between Govt. of India and NSCN (IM) during NDA Govt. in India is the concrete indication of how many human lives of indigenous people of Manipur would be ready to sacrifice against any attempt at the breaking of teritorial lntegrity of Manipur.
As long as disunity, mean mindedness, lack of sense of oneness and communal enmity from amongst ethnic groups of people prevail, Manipur qan never be well developed and prosperous state. It will go back to the primitive stage of living even though Manipur has produced prominent lawyers, many IAS, IPS, IFS personnel and well qualified intellectuals both from the hills and valley. Every individual or community of Manipur ought to know that all the indigenous people of Manipur, if united, Manipur (our motherland), could be lifted on top of peoples living around the world.
Can any nation of the world compete “MARY KOM” five times World Boxing Champion of the world ? She belongs to a small community of tiny state of Manipur. But she brought laurels from all over the world not only to her Kom community but also to all the indigenous people of Manipur.
Nilkomol, Thoiba, Dinku, Suranjoy, Sarita, Kunjamai and many other prominent figures in the field of sports had lifted Manipur and made it known to the world of sports and games. It is these athletes of Manipur who deserve special mention at all times.
How many politicians of hills and valley including MPs, MLAs and Chief Ministers of Manipur had contributed remarkable services to the people of Manipur ?
For brining in “Unity and Oneness” amongst all ethnic groups of people living in Manipur – Let us keep aside the issues of RELIGIONS, CASTE, COMMUNITY, HILLS AND VALLEY.
Let us learn lessons from Japan.
How Japan became one of the flourishing countries of the world after the attack of disastrous atomic bombs on the soil of Japan where lakhs of Japanese lost their lives ? The progresses and developments made in all the fields of Japan within a short span of time are remarkable. The small islanders’ spirit, courage, unity and oneness have left Admirable Footprints.