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


Dr.Khomdon Lisam (in continuation from Part I)

Origin of the word “Tangkhul”

The name Tangkhul was given to them by the Meiteis. There are many legends regarding the origin of the word Tangkhul .

  • The word Tangkhul is believed to have emerged from the name of a person named “ Tangkhu” who was  well  expert in war dance, had excellent skills in war  tactics including use of swords, spears  According to legend, “Thang” (swords) and “ Ta” ( Spear ) are inseparable items of Tangkhul life. Hence Tangkhul means “village of the people of “Thang –ta “(sword and spear).
  • Tangkhuls are very generous and full of hospitality who provided food and drinks to their guests. Therefore, the Meiteis called them “Atangba Khul”. Antangba means precious of very high value, khul means village. In other words, there is no village as hospitable, liberal and generous as the Tangkhuls.
  • According to another legend, Iron is everything for Tangkhul life. In Burmese language, “Than” means iron. The Tangkhuls used iron (than) for making swords, spears, agricultural implements and even for paying bride price or purchasing land. The Avas made the iron available to the Tangkhuls according to their needs. At one time, there is increasing demand of iron from the Tangkhul community so much so that the Avas or Burmese called them “Thanpi,” which means  “Iron people”.
  • According to another legend, there was a time when the Samjok king was so weak that the Meitei king attacked Samjok and subdued it. The Burmese called the Nagas “Thanpi”. The Meitei called the village “Than-khul” meaning “Than–village” or Thankhul .

Tangkhul and Meitei Ties:

  • The relationship between the Tangkhuls and the Meiteis during the mediaeval period was very much on trade, commerce and social contact. The Tangkhul supplied cotton to the valley. They also came and did business in the Sanakeithel which was the principal market in Imphal. The Tangkhuls used Manipuri coin of bell-metal locally called ‘sel’ as a medium of exchange which was introduced during the reign of Khagemba (1597-1652).
  • The boundary of Manipur and Burma (Myanmar) was laid down by an agreement signed between the British authorities (East India Company) and Burma on 9th January, 1834 on the river bank of Nighthee (Chindwin). The transfers of Kabow Valley in 1834 and the 12 Somra villages in 1880 to Burma were glaring instances of gross injustice knowingly committed by the British against Manipur. As a result of this boundary demarcation, many Tangkhul village situated in Somrah hills were included under Burma.
  • The oral history of the Tangkhuls says that the Meiteis and Tangkhuls were brothers being descendants of the same ancestors in the distant past. The theory that Tangkhuls and Meitei emerged from the same ancestor is found in the Sana Puya, the royal chronicles of the Meitei Raja. Tangkhul was the elder brother and the Meitei the younger brother. The younger brother used to send his due share of tribute (Loipot) to his elder brother, the chief of Hundung village, Hundung Awunga.
  • Maharaj Churachand, King of Manipur re-established the relationship between Meitei and Hundung Awunga. In honour of this historic event, he erected a memorial stone in front of the house of Hundung Awunga on which his footprints were engraved. Maharaja Bodhchandra, son of Maharaja Churachand also visited and erected a memorial stone on 11th November, 1945 by the side of the first one. His successor, Maharaja Okendrajit or Pareihanba meaning “revival–revival” celebrated Mera Hou chongba at Imphal in 1992. Maharaja Okendrajit (or Pareihanba) with a dance troupe of 300 strong and a number of people proceeded to Hundung Thawaijao village where A.S. Wungnaoyo Zimik, Awunga of Hundung village offered a warm welcome. The same Pareihanba celebration was performed with erection of a memorial stone of the Meitei Tangkhul oneness. Maharaja Okendrajit Singh presented a female buffalo to Hundung Awungwa and there was exchange of gifts between the two brothers. Thousands of people joined the celebration.
  • During the protracted war between Burma and Manipur, many Meitei families fled to Ukhrul Hills and took shelter in Tangkhul villages to escape from the oppressions and atrocities in the hands of Burmese soldiers. Some families returned to the valley while many others got themselves absorbed in Tangkhul society.
  • Some valley people, driven out from the Valley by the Ningthoujas, fled to the Tangkhul Hills merged among the Kabuis and the Tangkhuls carrying with their original Salais of Meiteis. This happened may times starting from the first century CE.
  • The Burmese tried to subdue the Tangkhul and a force of 700 Burmese soldiers were entirely annihilated by the Tangkhuls.  1891 Census has identified at least 9 Headmen of Tangkhul Villages of Ukhrul District, bearing Meitei names such as Thawaijao, Sajaoba, etc.
  • During the reign of Bhagyachandra (1759-1762 and 1763-1798), many Tankhuls came to help the king the establishment of the capital at Langthaban about seven kilometres south east of Imphal. Many Tangkhul Khullakpas, Khullakpa of Hundung and Ukhrul made friendship with the king. The Tangkhul Khullakpas of Ukhrul, Hundung and Huining came to pay respect to the king. King Bhagyachandra allocated land to the Tangkhuls for settlement of a Tangkhul village in the valley at a place called Puru pat. (Ramnganing Muivah I.A.S. An Introduction to Ukhrul in “Tangkhul Baptist Long (TBL) Centenary-96” page 16-18, 1996).

Connection between Meiteis and Kukis   

Many authors are of the view that the Meiteis-Kukis relation dates back to 33 CE. Kuki is a generic term applied to the various sub-tribes, viz., Thadou, Paite, Hmar, Simte, Zou, Gangte, Vaiphei, Guite, Ralte, Sukte, etc. In Manipur, Kukis were called Khongsai or Khongjai before the use of the term Kuki. Khong means drum and Sai means beating or hitting according to Thadou-Kuki dialect. According to Meitei pooyas two Kuki chiefs namely Kuki Ahongba and Kuki Achouba were allies of Nongda Lairen Pakhangba while ascending the throne of Kangleipak in 33 CE. Nongda Lairen Pakhangba’s mother was a Kuki woman named ‘Lenghoi’ or Nungmaidenga belonging to the Chothe clan. (William Shaw 1929: 47-48). According to “Cheitharol Kumbala”, the royal chronicles of Manipur, Meidingu Taothingmang, a Kuki became king of Kangleipak (Manipur) during 264-364 CE. King Naothingkhong ruled Manipur during 663-763 CE. He was known as Hongnem Yoi Khunjao . He ran away from home for fear of wrath of his father at a very young age. He lived with the Sheilloy Langmai in Nongmaijing Hills and married a Langmai girl named Petangnga. When he became the king at Kangla, Petangnga came to see him. She was shocked to find a Khuman princess, daughter of Punshi Yumoiba sitting at the seat of the queen. She died of shock and disappointment. After her death, she was worshipped as “Yumjao Lairembi” by the royal family. King Naothingkhong used to worship Mangang Kuru, Luwang Kuru and Khuman Kuru .

During Raja Nar Singh’s period (September, 1844- April, 1850), a large number of new Kukis migrated to Manipur and with great efforts; they were settled in various parts of Manipur. During Chandrakirti’s reign (1877-76), about 2000 Kukis migrated to Manipur being driven northwards by more powerful groups. They were tall with good physique. They brought a large number of muskets and ammunition. The Maharaja settled them near Moirang in the south western corner of the valley.

Mention may be made of Raja one Chongja Kuki taking pity on the Raja fired off his gun and said to the Raja, “The Raja shall not die until I, Chongjaam first killed the Raja’s enemy “.This cheered up the Raja and the followers of Chongja having made a “Vaileng” (cane suspension bridge) got the Raja safely across and into safety.(William Shaw – 1929:48-49). (TS Letkhosei -Sangai Expresss
dated 31 May 2015

As per William Shaw in his book, “The Thadou Kukis” (1929: 48), the Burmese repeatedly invaded Manipur in 1758 (Gour Shyam) , 1765 (Ching-Thang Khomba/ Rajarshi Bhagyachandra)  and 1775 (Rajarshi Bhagyachandra). At the time of the Burmese Invasion, the Raja of Manipur fled for protection to the house of Thongsat Kuki’s father, where the Raja ate only ‘Ga’ (beans) for several months. When the Burmese left, the king returned home with Thongsat’s father and Kaikholal Kuki.

The Kukis fought bravely with the British in the famous Kuki Uprising of
1917-1919.   With the defeat of the Kukis in the uprising, the British India started arresting the leaders of the Kuki uprising vide Order of the Governor General in Council signed by R.E. Holland, the Secretary to the Government of India dated the 8th December 1919. Twelve Kuki chiefs from Burma were imprisoned in the Taungyi jail of Burma while another twelve leaders from Manipur were imprisoned in the Sadiya jail of Assam. They were later deported to the Andaman and Nicobar Island jail. (Zalengam: 1998 & Document: Warrant-1919, Delhi)

Hearing the forced annexation of Manipur by the Government of India,, the Kuki chiefs  sent 250 armed warriors to be deployed at the Palace gate to protect the king, Maharaja Bodhchandra. (Zalengam: 1998 & S.M.A.W Chisti 2005: 149).

India’s hidden worry           

The North East  India is strategically very important for the existence of India as a country .

  • The  North East India has 4500 km long international border with  China, Myanmar, Bangaldesh , Bhutan, which constitutes almost 90% of India;s international boders . The Government of India can not forget the 1962-Indo-China war  when Pnadit Nehru lost all hopes of saving North East from China and said “ bye bye”  to the people of North East, Still China is claiming Arunachal as its territory. They are not very much confident about Myanmar or Bangladesh . All the neighbours of  India  are unpredictable. India is afraid of China as a superpower.
  • The  Chicken neck of 21-40 km between Garo Hilla and Siliguri is another cause of worry.  This is only180 km away from the Chinese military camp. Once this is blcoked,  the rest of India is cut off .
  • North East is a sleeping giant. It is self sufficient in all respects to be an idependent sovereign country producing   petrol, diesel, iron, coal,  gas , tea for the last more than 100 years.   Once it wakes up from slumber, that may be the end of India .
  • North East  is having an area of   2.62 Lakh sq, km (7.97%)  with a  Population of 32. 87 million (3.80%) – bigger than 120 countries of the world
  • The people of North East are racially different from mainland India. The North Easterners are mongoloids whereas the mainland Indians  are aryans. We are different in our physical features, identity, culture, traditions,  religions, language,  scipt , dress , food habits etc.
  • If North East is gone,  India will be many times weaker considering strategic position of  the North East.
  • India is very much afraid of China, Once Jawaharlal Neru said “ Bye bye to North East” in 1962 . China take the People of Arunachal as their own citizen and refused to issue a separate VISA . China is still claiming Arunachal as their own territory. So the Government of India does not want NSCN to remain as  anti-Indian and pro-China

The Government of India is ready to grant  Shared Sovereignty to NSCN-IM not out of love for Muivah or NSCN-IM but out of fear for China.

Then what strategies are they adopting  to fulfill their hidden agenda? 

  • Policy of divide and rule.  The mainland Indians have learnt the policy of divide and rule  from the British from 1857 to 1947 and implemented it among the several ethnic groups who have  been living together peacefully from the time immemorial . The Government of India had  raised  the status of Naga Hills  from a simple village republic to  full statehood on 1st December, 1963 because of  terrorist movment. The Manipuris feel betrayed and  considered it  as a great insult and till today this is the  source of all conflicts with the Government of India.
  • Prevent the people of North East from being united. The greatest fear of India is the emergence of an united north east. Therefore , the main focus of the mainland Indians  is how to keep us divided in the name of Political Parties, Ethnicity. Religion, Supra State, Alternative Administrative arrangement, Greater Nagaland, Schedule- VI. They will be very happy if  any  civil war erupts  in North East India.
  • The  Government of India is inviting the biggest terrorist groups with red carpet welcome  and 5 star treatment with high security cover  for Talks while  killing samller groups  using AFSPA 1958. as an effective weapon.  The AFSPA 1958 is not applicable to bigger terrorist groups like Maoist or Naxalites,which are affecting Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal.
  • The  Government of India is turning a blind eye when months long ecnomic blockade,  extortion to the tune of  crores of rupees from Manipur bound vehicle  and killing of innocent drivers are happening under the nose of Indian security personnel  along  the national higways.
  • Another strategy is population invasion – a population invasion-war without arms. This will replace the indigenous population of North East India with Mongoloid features with the mainland Indians of Aryan blood in the name of secularism and democracy over a period of 50-60 years and reduce the indigenous population to a microscopic minority and build an united India of the same Aryan blood. The proportion of indigenous in Tripuria  had gone down from 74.68% in 1901  to 31.82 % in 2001. The indigenouse people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands has become almost extinct now  due to blessings of the Government of India.  The illegal immigrants are now in majority in seven districts of Assam and 43 MLAs out of 126 are Bengali speaking. On 6 May, 1997, Indrajit Gupta, the then Union Home Minister stated in Parliament that there are ten million illegal immigrants from Bangladesh of which three million are in Assam. However, Tarun Gogoi, the Congress Chief Minister of Assam said that there are only 39,000 Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam. Tarun Gogoi wanted to save the prestige of the Congress. That is why he is speaking a blatant lie.  The recent riot in Kokrajhar, Assam was the outcome of Government of India’s blunder during 1947-1950..
  • The influx of illegal immigrants is also happening even in Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram where Inner Line Sytem is there, In Nagaland, a new ehtnic group known as “Semias “ is emerging in 1980  in the Niuland in Dimapur district due to inter-marriage between  women of  Semi Nagas and  illegal immigrant
  • Captive market – The North East  towns , cities and  villages are  the captive markets  of  all products from the big big companies from Delhi, Bombay, Kolkata etc. All the chambers of commerce are controlled by non-indigenous people.
  • Impose Congress party rule  by hook or by crook . The top political leaders of INC wanted a Congress Ministry  in Nagaland by March, 2013. They can sacrifice everything for the sake of  power politics. This may be done through manipulation of EVM machine or by encouraging  rampant corruption at the time of election  as done in case of Manipur . The price for one single vote has been increased from Rs.1000 in 2012 to 2000 in 2016.
  • Eliminate youths who raised anti-India slogans with the help of AFSPA-1958. Army, Assam Rifles, CRPF friends of the Hill People.

Premerger Political Status of Manipur

  • In 1938, about 356 leading citizens of Manipur submitted a petition to the Maharaja Bodhchandra requesting him to establish a Legislative Council and also to nominate the members of the Durbar from among the members of the Legislative Council. In 1939, the Nikhil Manipuri Mahasabha submitted another petition requesting the Maharaja to establish a Unicameral Legislature of 100 members, 80 to be elected and another 20 to be nominated by the Maharaja.
  • On 12th December, 1939, the Nupi Lan was started. Hijam Irabot converted the Nupial (Women’s Agitation) into a political movement aimed at the end of British rule in Manipur. On 7 January, 1940, he was arrested and sentenced to three years imprisonment for giving a public speech. He was transferred to Sylhet jail where he was influenced by Marxist ideology. He became a communist while in jail and through one Biresh Mishra, he came in contact with the Communist Party of India.
  • On 4th October 1946, Manipur State Congress came into existence. In January 1947, Maharaja Bodhchandra had announced his desire to introduce a fully democratic and constitutional form of government in Manipur. On 21 January, 1947, the Election Committee was formed. A new Constitution making committee was formed to draft a new Constitution of Manipur. The meeting of the New Constitution making Committee passed the draft Constitution on 8th May 1947 and submitted to the Maharaja on 26th May 1947. On 1 July, 1947, the Manipur State Durbar which was established in 1907 was abolished and it was named as Manipur State Council. Mr. Pearson, MBE, ICS was appointed as the Chief Minister of Manipur.
  • On 4th July, 1947, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 was passed by the British parliament and it received the royal assent on 18th July, 1949 and India is going to be independent with effect from 15th August, 1947. On 14th August, 1947, the State Council was abolished and an interim council was established with Shri M.K. Priyobarta as the Chief Minister.

Manipur had a Constitution before India wrote one

Manipur had its own de jure constitution before India wrote her own.  Maharaja Bodhchandra promulgated ‘The Manipur Constitution Act, 1947 on 1 July, 1947 at the initiative of Pearson, the president of the Manipur State Durbar. Under the said constitution, the Maharaja of Manipur had already become a constitutional ruler since July 1, 1947 when he devolved his powers to the newly established State Council and Manipur State Assembly. He was no longer the absolute monarch. Probably, Manipur was the only princely state among 565 princely states to have its own Constitution. Thus Manipur had a constitution before India had one. India has a constitution on 26 January, 1950.

Manipur was a democratic country before India become one.       

Soon after regaining independence of Manipur from British rule on 15 August, 1947, Maharaja Bodhchandra took steps to introduce democracy in Manipur. As provided in the Manipur Constitution Act, 1947, elections of 53 representatives of the people to the Manipur State Assembly were held on 11 and 18 June, 1948 in the valley areas and on 26 and 27th July, elections were held in the hill areas. The first ever elected Manipur State Assembly was inaugurated by the Maharaja on 18 October , 1948.  The Maharaja addressed the first session of the first Manipur State Assembly on 18 October, 1948

The new ministry was headed by M.K. Priyobarta Singh, younger brother of Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh.

Series of blunders committed by the Government of India against Manipur                              

History has shown clearly that the Government of India had done a series of blunders which are the beyond the scope of International law to Manipur  during 1947-1950 which led to illegal annexation of Manipur to India  These blunders  will always remain as a jeremiad and the genesis of all conflicts with the Government of India  and the people of Manipur  and will aggravate it’s intensity unless the Government comes out with some concrete solutions in the form of  “Restoration of Pre-Merger Status of Manipur”.

In this connection, we may refer to the statement of G.K. Pillai, former Union Home Secretary, which was published on 27 September, 2011 in the Telegraph newspaper. According to him, the repeal of the draconian act AFSPA-1958 was one of the first steps towards resolving the vexed conflict of Manipur’s valley and hills. He said that “the ancient kingdom of Manipur had a constitution even before India wrote her own and had a proud history and was overnight turned into a C-category state in 1948. He further added “we have to build trust by dealing with the core issues. An apology, say by the Prime Minister or the Home Minister, for the past mistakes could be a start.”

Signing of the Instrument of Accession on 11th August, 1947

  • Maharaja Bodhchandra of Manipur signed the Standstill Agreement and the Instrument of Accession on 11th August, 1947. But he had no authority to  sign the  Standstill Agreement and the Instrument of Accession without the approval of the Manipur State Assembly since he had already become  the constitutional
  • Signing of the Instrument of Accession was done before the Dominion of India came into existence. On 11th August, 1947 India had not yet become independent and the Dominion of India did not come into existence. Thus the two documents of the Standstill Agreement and the Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharaja should not be taken as valid since these were signed before creation of dominion of India.
  • The Instrument of Accession signed by the Maharaja was probably not countersigned by Lord Mountbatten, Governor General during his tenure from 20 February 1947 to 21 June 1948) and therefore not valid according to international law. Why do the Government of India treated the records of the Instrument of Accession pertaining to Manipur as a classified document?
  • The Instrument of Accession signed by Maharaja Bodhchandra of Manipur on 11 August was never ratified by the Manipur Constituent Assembly and therefore not valid. In case of Jammu and Kashmir, the Instrument of Accession was ratified by the State Assembly on 15 February, 1954.
  • According to the Government of India Act-1935 (6-9), immediately the Instrument of Accession has been accepted by Governor General, copies of the Instrument and His Majesty’s acceptance thereof shall be laid before the Parliament and all courts shall take judicial notice of every such instrument and acceptance.  But there are no records of the accepted copies of  the  Instrument of Accession of Manipur  having  laid down before the Parliament and all courts of India.
  • Manipur did not lose sovereignty even after signing the Instrument of Accession on 11th August, 1947. According to the provisions of the Instrument of Accession, the Dominion of India will be responsible only for three matters-Defence, External Affairs and Communication.

Declaration of Sovereignty and Independence of  Manipur

On the night of 14th August, 1947 at 12 P.M., Mr. Gerald Pakenham Stewart informed Maharaja Bodhchandra that the paramountcy of British rule in India had come to an end and India became independent from that particular moment. He handed over the reigns of Manipur to the Maharaja in presence of Sanasam Gourahari , Private Secretary and Mr. Mayengbam Anandamohon, ADC. On 28th August (Thawan), 1947 AD,( Thursday) at 12 midnight , the sovereignty of Manipur was declared by the Political Agent Mr. Gerald Pakenham Stewart, ICS and he  handed over Manipur to Maharaja Budhchandra Singh and Maharani Ishwori Devi at the Manipur State Durbar in presence of  all senior Officers and a large number of people.  Maharaja entered Kangla at Imphal and hoisted the National Flag of Manipur bearing the Pakhangba Flag. Top-guns were fired 18 times by Ahongsangbam Bidhu, Top Major in honour of the Sovereign Kingdom in the presence of a large crowd. ( Sarangthem Bormani- Meitei Ningthourol , 2nd Edition, 2000).

Manipur’s First Election

On 11 and 18 June, 1948, election was held in the valley areas and on 26 and 27th July, elections were held in the hill areas to elect people’s representatives. On 26 November, a Non- Congress Coalition Government was formed as no party could secure an absolute majority. The new ministry was headed by M.K. Priyobarta Singh , younger brother of Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh with following  ministers :-

Dr. Ningthoujam, Leiren – Minister  in charge of Education and PWD

Ayekpam Gourbidhu       – Coomerce and Industry

Arambam Ibotomba         – Finance

Major R. Khathing          – Minister  in charge of  Hills

Mr. Tebkilo                     – Forest and Agriculture

Md. Alimmuddin             – Jail and Medical

Sougaijam Somorendro    – Opposition Leader

to be continued …

The writer may be reached [email protected]

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