Common future-Peaceful Co-existence and Restoration of Pre-Merger Political Status of Manipur – Part I

1996
1

Dr.Khomdon Lisam

First of all, I would like to make a humble appeal to His Excellency, the Governor of Manipur, the Hon’ble Chief Minister, all Hon’ble Ministers, all Hon’ble MLAs and all political leaders of all political parties in Manipur to flag off and join the “UNITTY RALLY” being organized by  UCM. AMUCO, CCSK in collaboration with other civil organizations to show unity and solidarity of  all ethnic groups of Manipur at this time of crisis, turmoil, uncertainty and anarchy and to show loyalty to our 2000 year old motherland called Manipur. It is not below one’s dignity to show and work for peace, unity and solidarity of all ethnic groups in Manipur. This is not illegal, not anti-India or not unconstitutional. We want our leaders to show their leadership qualities at this time of crisis as a true representative of the people.  I also would like to appeal to all Government employees, all  academicians, all lawyers, all social workers, all professional groups, all members of  the public & private enterprises, all CSOs of hills and valley, all sports organizations, all youth clubs, all women’s organizations to revisit the history of Manipur, pre-merger and post merger scenario of Manipur and join the peace and unity rally to dispel any  misunderstanding, communication gaps, lack of trust between various ethnic groups in Manipur. This is a Peace Rally. Jesus said – “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be the children of God”. Nowadays, many fake histories are coming up to justify their ethnic demands. God can not change history but historians can. A passionate attachment to ones particular ethnic group may produce a variety of evils. The virus of ethnic ties and communalism is spreading very fast, faster than bird-flu threatening the very survival of state. We should resolve to pave the way for a grand peace and communal harmony among all ethnic groups for all generations to come. The flame of patriotism and loyalty to the state must not and shall not die. Live for nothing or die for some thing. This is a cause worth fighting for and worth dying for.

Once Charles De Gaulle, President of the French Republic said “Politics is too important and too serious a matter to be left only to the politicians”. Edmund Burke also said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This is what is happening in Manipur today,

Manipur is burning, in turmoil, chaos, confusion and uncertainty everywhere due to inept handling of important public issues by the Government of India and the State Government. The leaders of political parties lack competency, sincerity, honesty ad loyalty to the mother land. Patriotism is not enough; you have to protect the minority. This is pre-eminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Why did the Manipur State Legislative Assembly withdrew one bill after another and could not come up with a meaningful and effective bill according to the wishes of both valley and hill people by following proper procedure without hurting the sentiments of hill people? That is why Churachandpur is burning with the death of nine people. We all condemn this in the strongest terms.  The Manipur State Legislative Assembly lost face when many outsiders criticized its credibility. On 10 September, 2015- Nagaland Chief Minister T.R Zeliang requested Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister to render advice to the Manipur Governor not to give his assent to the three Bills that were passed in the Legislative Assembly on 31 August, 2015. On 16 January, 2015- P.A Sangma, Ex-Speaker of Lok Sabha stated that he supported the “demand for Kuki land” and there is need for a “Need for a second State Reorganisation”(Sangai Express dated 17 January, 2015). On 16 September 2015 Khekiho Zhimomi, MP (Rajya Sabha) from Nagaland said “It has been proven that the tribal and the Meiteis of Manipur cannot co-exist peacefully in the same State” and urged “Divide Manipur into two Union Territories”. He further said “if the Governor gives the assent to the Bills, then the clashes that Manipur will witness which be far more extreme than what it has witnessed in recent times. It is a complete deadlock for the Government,” Is it not declaration of war or is it due to ignorance? On 10 September,  2015, Lal Thanhawla, Chief Minister of Mizoram  said  to Prime Minister Modi  “I would like to request you to ensure that the Central Government does not give its consent to the three Bills passed by the Manipur Legislative Assembly as they are directly against the tribal people of the State”. On 16 September 2015, Thangso Baite, MP from Manipur, reportedly told IANS: “Creation of two union territories out of Manipur definitely can be a possible solution”. This unheard of attack upon our Legislative Assembly is perfidy unparalleled in the history of democratic India. On 27 September, 2015, Meghalaya Civil Societies submitted a joint memorandum to Prime Minister, Narendra Modi alleging that the Government of Manipur has violated the Constitutional safeguards of the indigenous/tribal people of Manipur. Papu Yadav had threatened to drag out all Manipuris from trains going through Bihar. But our political leaders are busy in blaming each other on the eve of Municipal and Nagar Panchayat elections. This reminds me of the remark of Jarod Kintz “I once saw a politician walking a dog, and I thought, “How absurd – an animal walking an animal.” Then I thought, “If given a choice, I would   rather vote for the dog.” Napoléon Bonaparte once said – “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.” Our political leaders are always shouting – the Naga Peace Accord should not dis-integrate the boundary of Manipur”. Nowadays, even Muivah is saying the same thing. What Muivah is planning is “Shared Sovereignty” for all Naga inhabited areas including Nagaland, Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with the geographical boundaries remaining intact. The Manipur State Legislative Assembly enjoying absolute majority cannot come up with any idea to condemn the unnecessary outside intervention and to devise a strategy to restore the pristine glory of pre-merger political status of Manipur.  What we require today is the unity and solidarity of all ethnic groups for restoring peace and communal harmony in Manipur. The destiny of Manipur is to be decided by the Manipuris and not by the Government of India or Nagaland or Mizoram or any big state like UP, Maharastra, Tamil Nadu or West Bengal who command majority in Parliament. We should stop the Master-Slave relationship with the Government of India. Manipur must be made a safe place for democracy. Peace must be planted upon tested foundations of love, unity and communal harmony.

Shared Sovereignty for Nagaland

On 3 August, 2015 the secret historic Naga Peace Accord between the Government of India (GOI) and the NSCN-IM was signed at the residence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi between R.N Ravi, interlocutor on behalf of the GOI and Thuingaleng  Muivah General Secretary or Ato Kilonser on behalf of the NSCN-IM. For the first time, the GOI has accepted the “Unique history of Nagas” and reiterated the words “sovereignty lies with the people.” On 4th   August  2015 R.N Ravi  said “we have agreed to share sovereign power with each other” and  that the relationship between Nagas and Indians was based on sharing of a “sovereign power,” The word  “Shared Sovereignty” may mean that Nagaland may have separate constitution, separate flag, separate parliament, separate prime minister, separate National Anthem, separate passport,  separate Emblem, separate currency, separate seat in the United Nations, having separate Embassies in different countries, separate service cadres. But final details are yet to be worked out. They may have joint responsibility for defence, external affaires and communication. On 18 August,2015, Th. Muivah, NSCN-IM general secretary stated  that his group has not given up the demand for sovereignty and integration of the Naga inhabited areas  of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The idea of Shared Sovereignty for the Nagas is found very attractive to Nagas and Kukis of Manipur. They do not want to be left out. That is why they are organising a movement against the valley people in the name of three bills. All the Manipuris are supporting the demand of shared sovereignty for Nagaland.

Manipur State Legislative Assembly should take a Resolution on Restoration of Pre-Merger Political Status of Manipur

Our Hon’ble Chief Minister was meeting the Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Home Minister for collecting a copy of the Naga Peace Agreement. But he returned empty-handed. He would have questioned Prime Minister and Home Minister- “If you respect the unique history of Nagas, what about our 2000 year old history and forced annexation of Manipur in 1949. You should grant Pre-Merger Political Status or Shared Sovereignty to Manipur before you grant the same to Nagaland.” All political leaders of all political parties in Manipur and the Manipur State Legislative Assembly may seriously debate on this issue of restoration of Pre-Merger Political Status of Manipur in the forthcoming Assembly Session from 16 Februry, 2016. Manipur State Legislative Assembly may adopt a resolution on restoration of pre-merger political status of Manipur. All members of Nagaland State Legislative Assembly voluntarily offered to resign en masse to create a condition for starting a government based on the Naga Peace Accord. Similarly, the Manipur State Legislative Assembly should voluntarily resign and create a condition for restoration of pre-merger political status of   Manipur. This is not illegal and this is not unconstitutional.  This is more or less the same as the Shared Sovereignty which the Government of India is giving to Nagaland. The Government of India may not have the courage to grant Shared Sovereignty to Nagaland before they grant Pre-Merger Political Status to Manipur. This will be win-win situation.

Let us stop working only for a particular ethnic group

We should stop working only for the Meiteis or only for Kukis or only for Nagas or only for Meitei Pangans. We are sons and daughters of the same family. We may have problems but everything can be solved through dialogue. We should think and leave a bright and progressive future for our children. We should show our first loyalty to our motherland, Manipur-not to our ethnicity. All the ethnic groups in Manipur have a common origin and common ancestor. Let us encourage inter-ethnic marriages. We should jointly participate not only in festivals but also in marriage ceremonies and death rituals. We should organize “Ningol Chakkouba” for our hill sisters. All employees should be ready to work in hill areas. In the past, thousands of Kuki and Naga people have been assimilated into Meitei society and similarly thousands of Meiteis have been assimilated into Kuki and Naga societies.

Therefore, we should have a common future and work for peaceful co-existence. Let us not forget that the Government of India is inciting us to fight with each other to fulfill their hidden agenda.

Ancient Manipur Kingdom

The kingdom of Manipur existed since 1445 B.C, had all  the basic requirements of a kingdom such as  kingship, a capital or seat of power, an administrative set-up, a territory with well defined boundary including regional principalities, rules, regulations and laws of the land which guide governance, courts of justice, revenue and administrative division of the kingdom in the form of provinces, districts, counties, boroughs etc., hierarchy of nobles and officials, an army to defend the kingdom or to attack neighbouring countries for annexation, coinage for trade and commerce, literature, script and culture indicating civilization, a recorded history for future generations and so on.

Manipur king preserved the unity of all tribes in Manipur by preserving the autonomy of the villages chiefs and never interfered in the internal affaires of the villages.. The king himself said : I am the thread – that  makes  the beautiful garland of different flowers of  various colours of various tribes”.

The king used to sing “ Chingna koina pansaba , Haona koina pangnagakpa “ ( the hills constitute the fort , the hill men are the security guards of the fort )  This practice of unity in diversity  was the unifying strength of Manipur , which is rarely visible in the history of other nations. This is the secret of having a Manipuri civilization lasting for more than 2000 years although other civilisations had collapsed before time. The Indian democracy is hardly 66 years old but now so many conflicts have come up due to too many interference and too much control by the centre in the name of secularism.  The Government of India must learn from Manipur history how to sustain a civilisation for more than 2000 years.

Boundaries of Manipur:

Manipur is bounded by the Indian states of Nagaland in the north, Mizoram in the south and Assam in the west. it also borders the country of Myanmar to the east. The ancient kingdom of Manipur had a vast expanse of territory with numerous ethnic groups shouldering and sharing the administration of the monarchy. Sometimes it touches the boundaries of Nan-Chao kingdom of Yunan on the east, that of Tibet on the north, Kamarup (Assam) on the west, Arakan/Chin kingdoms of Burma and kingdom of Tripura (Tui-Phra) on the south.

Capt. R.B. Pemberton (1835) remarked that the territories of Manipur have fluctuated at various times with the fortunes of the princes , frequently extending for three or four days journey east beyond Ningthee or Chindwin river, and west to the plains of Cachar “ (Capt. R.B. Pemberton, Eastern Frontier of British India  by , 1885-pag-20). Sir James Johnstone, the political agent (1877–1886) also gave similar opinion.  In 1885, indeed the forest between Manipur and the Doyeng and Dhunsiri was declared to be the boundary between Manipur and Assam. (Alexander Mackenzie, The North East Frontier of Bengal by1884, page-102). According to old chronicles, the boundary of Manipur extended upto Kale in Burma during the time of Ura Konthouba (639 A.D). During the time of Kyaamba (1467-1508 A.D), the boundary extended upto the whole of the Noajeeree hills running between the Moo and Chindwin (Ningthee) rivers on the east, upto Malugram of Cachar on the west

Government of India should respect the history of Manipur.

No Indian kingdom or Princely State and no civilization in the world had such a long, unbroken history like Manipur. The Manipur kingdom was recognised by the British, by the Burmese, Assam (Ahoms), Tripura (Takhel). Taangja Leelaa Pakhangba was the first king.  There were 16 kings before 33 CE and 74 kings from 33 CE to 1972 CE. Manipur continued to exist as a Princely State under the British crown from 1891 to 14 August, 1947.  Roman empire existed for only 503 years, 7 months (27 BCE – 476  CE) Mongol Empire lasted for only 162 years (1206 CE – 1368CE), Mughal empire lasted for only 331 years (1526CE – 1857 CE), Gupta empire lasted for only 180 years (320 CE to 500 CE), Maurya empire lasted 137 years (322 CE – 185 BCE), Nizam of Hyderabad existed for only 234 years (1713 CE – 1947CE)  Maratha kingdom lasted for only 144 years (1674 CE – 1818 CE), Mysore kingdom lasted for only 548 years (1399 CE – 1947 CE), How and why Manipur kingdom lasted for more than 2000 years? What is the secret? The secret lies in the love, mutual respect, unity and solidarity of all ethnic groups under the king  in Manipur.

Meiteis are the descendants of the surrounding hill tribes

T.C.Hodson (1908) opined in his book “The Meitheis” that  “the Munniporees ( Manipuris)  meaning the Meiteis are  the descendants of the surrounding  hill tribes”. T.C. Hodson stated  “ the origin of the Munniporees from the surrounding hill tribes is the proper and only conclusion to be arrived at. I think it probable that when only a small part of the valley skirting the hills was capable of cultivation, the hill men bordering it used to descend and cultivate the little land there then was, returning to their homes in the hills after reaping their harvests: as however land increased, some of them settled permanently in the plain, gradually increasing in numbers. The various tribes thus settling in different parts of the valley would in time come into contact, and after a struggle for supremacy, amalgamate.”

Meiteis and the Nagas originated from a common ancestor

There are many legends to suggest that the Meiteis and the Nagas originated from a common ancestor. Col James Johnston (1877-1886) is quoted, “There can be little doubt that some time or other the Naga tribes to the North made one of their chiefs Raja of Manipur” who even after “adopting the civilization of the country, retain some of their old customs”.

Many Nagas sacrificed their lives for protecting the sovereignty of Manipur during the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891. The people of Manipur should not forget Chowkami Naga of Mayangkhang, Gowho Naga of Mayangkhang, Chirai Naga alias Chirai Thangal and many others. Chowkami Naga  was present during the attack on Mayangkhang Bunglow when the Sinaller O’Brien was killed. He was also with Chirai Naga when the latter killed Mr. Melville, the Superintendent of the Telegraph Department. He was tried and sentenced to transportation for life on 7th March, 1892 on the charge of (1) murder of Signaller O’Brien and (2) abetment of murder of Mr.Melville. He was deported to Andamans and Nicobar Islands (Kala Pani) in 1891 .He was released from the Andamans and was permitted to live in the state in 1901-1902 (vide Administration Report of the Political Agency , Manipur for 1906-1907)  (Vide Secretary to the Chief Commissioner’s No. 1822 dated 23rd April, 1892).Gowho Naga was present during the attack on Mayangkhang Bunglow when the Signaller O’Brien was killed. He was also with Chirai Naga when latter killed Mr. Melville, the Superintendent of the Telegraph Department. He was tried and sentenced to transportation for life on 7th March, 1892 on the charge of (1) murder of Signaller O’Brien and (2) abetment of Murder of Mr. Melville. He was deported to Andamans and Nicobar Islands (Kala Pani) in 1891.He was released from the Andamans and was permitted to live in the state in 1901-1902 (vide Administration Report of the Political Agency , Manipur for 1906-1907). Chirai Naga / Chirai Thangal son of Chunba  Naga of Mayangkhang aged 30 years was put to trial by the Chief Political Officers, Manipur Field force  for the attack and murder of the Telegraph officers at  Mayangkhang viz W.B Melville and O’Brien. On 25th April 1891 after the execution of the five Britisher at Kangla a column of Manipuri troops under the leadership of – Ashangba Khut, Poila came to Mayangkhang. When the Manipuri troops reached Mayangkhang, the villagers told that two British Offficers of the Telegraph Deptt. were staying in the Mayangkhang Dak Bunglow. When the Manipuris fired volleys of shots, Mr.O’Brien was instantly killed but W.B.Melville escaped with his rifle under cover of darkness.  A big search was mounted in the nearby jungle. Chirai Naga found W.B. Melville near a stream wounded. He was killed and his head cut off by Chirai Naga and brought to the village as a Trophy. Chirai Naga was arrested and tried by the Political Officer of the Manipur field Force from 3rd August, 1891 to 6th September, 1891 and hanged on 13th Oct. 1891, inside the jail.

to be continued ..

The writer may be reached through-khomdon.lisam@yahoo.com

1 COMMENT

  1. Chingda kaduna awangba chingdolda leptuna khudingmakna tanaba laoba ama changli akutpa maphamda leplaga laobadi wana thokkani khangnaoda naraga tokkani ching kasi. Mamal naidraba wareng sigidamk eekai khumnaba utchari

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