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Retrospective of Historical Blunders and Manipur Violence

by IT Desk
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By: Gitchandra Oinam
Manipur continues to burn and there is no sight to bring peace and normalcy since merger to India Union. But the story is that many other more dangerous hidden factors are acting behind this rage, like ethnocentric greater autonomy, land dispute, illegal immigration from Myanmar, armed militants and insurgency, narco terrorism, political move and many more.
Once N. Bisheshwar (ex-leader of PLA) wrote in his autobiography that, “when we say northeast is a colony, it does not imply that the citizens in the region have anti-Indian attitude but it only means that we are made to feel inferior…’ India government divides and rule policy since Nehru era hurt the sentiment of people.
After merger to India, the Meitei indigenous tribe has to endure imposition of national hegemony. In British era, they followed ‘Policy of Exclusion’ for frontier areas. So the tribes enjoyed partial autonomy. To restore normalcy, the government follow only theory to improvement of security and economic condition, which cannot be the ultimate solution. Indian security forces can not erase this feeling of tribes. The Governments has to pay attention on indigenous people designated power and prestige. This can be ensured by giving some administrative correction of past mistakes and securing basic human and cultural rights. For which GOI and state Government should review what mistake they did in the past and how to correct it?
When the British left the Indian subcontinent in 1947, Manipur also regained its independence. Manipur became a constitutional monarchy when a State Assembly was democratically elected and a popular government was installed in 1948 with M.K. Priyobarta as the first Chief Minister of Manipur’. Other ministers were Major Bob Khatting, Minister in charge of hill administration and Manipur rifles, Krishna Mohan finance, RK Bhubansana revenue, Moulavi Basiruddin Ahmed medical, PWD and Jail, K Gouro Singh education and local self government and TC Tiankham, forest and agriculture. Later on the Manipur state Constitution act 1947 constituted. Under this Constitution, the first assembly election of Manipur was held in June July 1948. The election was based on a universal adult franchise. Total number of seats was 53. 30 seats from valley, 18 seats from hills, 3 seats from Muhammadans and 2 nominees of Maharaj Bodhachandra being head of the Constitution. MK Priyobrata and E Nilakanta were the two nominees. Hijam Irabot won from Utlou A/C. S Somerendra was the opposition leader in the Assembly. The term of the Assembly was three years.
The Legislative Assembly was short-lived as Maharaja Bodhchandra was allegedly coerced to sign the Merger Agreement on September 21, 1949 which came into effect on October 15 the same year. On adoption of the Constitution of India on January 26, 1950, Manipur became a Part-C State with Amar Singh as the first Chief Commissioner of Manipur. On November 1, 1956, Manipur became a Union Territory under the States’ Re-Organisation Act (1956). On July 1, 1963, Mairembam Koireng Singh became the first elected Chief Minister of Manipur under Union of India. The status of the administrator was raised from Chief Commissioner to the status of the Lt Governor with effect from December 19, 1969. Manipur became a full-fledged state on January 21, 1972 by the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971 after a long 21 years gap.
Hills under Maharajah of Manipur till 1891: Reference a gazetteer compiled and published by the Intelligence Branch, Quarter Master Generals’ Department in the year 1886 – Gazette of Manipur “The Hill is divided between Thangal Singh General and Balaram Singh General”. (a) Thangal Singh – The Cachar Road and villages along it, the Kohima Road as far east as the ridge of country lying along the north of Route No. 5 from Route No. 9, southwards including all dealing with the Akamhows. (b) Balaram Singh Sougaijamba – Kukis at the southern end of the valley and whole of the hills west of the valley with the exception of the Cachar Road, the north eastern corner including the Somrah Basin Route No. 6 and the Kabow valley.
This is the testimony that before the British came, Manipur was ruled and administered by our own people and there were no discriminating and different patterns of law and administration in the valley and hills. “Under Article 3 of The Manipur State Hill Peoples (Administration) Regulation 1947”, hills are under direct supervision of council of ministers, which was formerly regulated in Manipur under constitutional monarchy. After the Merger of Manipur in India union such system of law and administration and the boundaries should be consolidated and strengthen but not happened.
During British Manipur, Maj. H.St. John Maxwell took over the charge of Manipur Administration from Brig. Gen. H. Collet in Sept. 1891. Maj. Maxwell was known by the Meiteis as Borosaheb and he married Princess Sanatombi of Manipur. It was he as a political agent and Superintendent of the State Administration established SADAR (Selected Area Development Administrative Region) as is given in the land records of Manipur. SADAR Circle 1 now known as Paona Bazar; SADAR Circle 2, Maxwell Bazar now known as Thangal Bazar; And SADAR Circle 3- Churachandpur Bazar. SADAR Bazar and SADAR hills are under the same pattern, aim and object of other SADARs of India. SADAR hills area of 2238 sq.km covers hills boundary to plane areas of Manipur most of the SADAR hills locations are holy places of Meitei tribe and related to its origins e.g. Langol hill, Nongmaijing (Nongpok Ningthou ) hill, Thangjing hill, Koubru hill etc.
Thus, the nearby hills around the valley administrative centres were selected for development administrative region. The most important factor was that, it was from the point of view of security and protection of the centrally located lowland areas of Imphal which had been the capital. In fact it was tactical and strategic plan to secure the dominating high features around the vital central administrative area of Imphal and surrounding areas which were often disturbed by hostile intruders as seen in the history of Manipur.
There were no Kuki settlements in SADAR hills. Few Kuki settlements in SADAR hill have seen during the period of British political agent J.C. Higgins in and around 1924-33.
In 1822, when 3000 Kukis both men and women deserted from the Lusai hill (Mizoram) and were located in sites south of the Cachar Manipur Another instance occurred in 1884, when 180 families of Suktes under Sangam sought refuge in Manipur, and were also assigned lands south of Moirang (Churachandpur). The Administration Report for 1877–88 reported around 2000 Sukte tribesmen were settled down on land allotted to them by the then Maharajah of Manipur and political agent, Colonel Johnstone in the neighbouring of Moirang and south west of the valley (Churachandpur) in the year 1877-88. In December 1881, and February and June 1882, the time of Lushai famine, 180 families in all fled from their own country and settled in Manipur territory, owing to the scarcity of food then prevailing. (Administrative report 1877-78, 1882-83, and 1883-84, Mackenzie page 161 paragraph 122)
Cachar district in present Assam was a part of the greater Kachari Kingdom which also included the adjoining Hailakandi and Karimganj districts. The Last King of Cachar was Meitei Raja Govindrachandra, he ruled till 1932 after died of his brother Raja Krishnachandra. No hierarchy to ascend the throne of Cachar after dead of King Govindachandra because he has no son or daughter and therefore British East India Company annexed the Cachar kingdom on 14 august 1932. The Kingdom of Cachar was being ruled two rulers having clearly defined areas of control. One kingdom by Meitei in the plain southern portion of Cachar and another kingdom by Tularam, he was the ruling chief of the hilly tract (northern portion of Cachar or Dima Hasao). Dima Hasao territories were annexed after he died in 1854. Thus entire Cachar came under the British occupation.
Jawaharlal Nehru paid first ever visit to Manipur on 23/24 October 1952. Maharaja Budhachandra was arranged most expensive a grand festival welcoming Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1953, U Nu the then Prime Minister of Burma came to Manipur and met the Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru accompanied by his daughter Smt. Indira Gandhi. All those visits were for consolidation of New Delhi power in the strategic frontier state and were motivated by the fear of possible joint insurgent movement by Burma Communist party and armed peasants led by Hijam Irabot in Manipur. However, Hijam Irabot died early on 26 September 1951 at the foothills of the Anggo Hills, now in Myanmar.
First blunder took place, when Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gifted 22,210 square kilometers of Manipur land known as Kabow valley as a goodwill gesture of friendly neighbouring policy and fear of Manipuri insurgency, which has been ceded to Myanmar but giving tax to Manipur by Myanmar government. Manipur used to get an indemnity or tribute of Sicca Rs 500 per month. Now, the amount would be akin to Rs 8,000 crores in modern currency. 16 Sicca Rupees valued at 1 Gold Mohur (11.66 gm) The British compensated Manipur for the loss of territory of Kabo valley by annual subsidy during British period. The Burmese Government paid the amount to the Government of India who in turn paid the amount to Manipur; however, the GOI has not paid any compensation for handing over of Kabaw Valley. The people of Manipur are still grumbling for such a raw deal.
Second blunder is when Smt. Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister of India. 27th amendment of Indian Constitution was passed in the Parliament without the consent of people and elected representatives of Manipur. During that time, Manipur was keep under prolong President Rules. Indian Government already gave some kind of autonomy to the frontiers by ‘Hill Areas Committee under article 371(c) which restricted indigenous Meitei tribe settlement in districts covered under article 371(c). This provision is completely different from the Manipur State Hill Peoples (Administration) Regulation 1947.
On 27 Amendments of Indian Constitution, Article 371 (C) says, the expression “Hill Areas” means such areas as the President may, by order, declares to be Hill Areas.’ Accordingly, Manipur Hill Areas District Council Act 1971 was implemented under the Government of Union Territories Act, 1968 a special provision was included in section 52 of the Act for the Constitution of the Standing Committee of the Legislature consisting of members from the Hill Area. By the section 52 of the Govt. of Union Territories Act 1963 authorized the President of India on expenditure from the Consolidated Fund of Union Territory pending the sanction of such expenditure in Parliament, in case of Legislative Assembly is dissolved, or its functioning as such Assembly remains suspended, on account of an order under Section 51. Section 51 is the provision in case of failure of constitutional machinery or President Rule. The First Schedule of Manipur Hill Areas says 1) Manipur North (Senapati) 2) Manipur East (Ukhrul) 3) Manipur West (Tamenglong) 4) Manipur South (Churachandpur) and 5) Chandel, Chakpkarong and Tengnoupal revenue of Manipur Central district (Valley) and now, Kangpokpi district curving out SADAR hill and some part of Senapati District and Pherzwal District curving out from Churachandpur District are under Hill Area District Council.
Manipur has only One District till 1969. 5 districts have been created from 1969 to 1972 namely 1) Central District (Imphal) 2) North District (Senapati) 3) South District (Churachandpur) 4) East District (Ukhrul) and 5) West District (Tamenglong). Presently, there are 16 districts in Manipur, in which 8 districts are under Hills Area District Council Act1971. Until 2016, there were only 9 districts. However, 7 new districts were added by the state Cabinets to ease the administrative affairs in the state. Under section 158 of the Manipur land revenue and land Reforms Act, 1960 restricts the non tribal including Meitei tribe from directly purchasing tribal land, but they can purchase through the consent of the District Councils. However, the main function of District Council is to protect the inheritance property of local schedule tribe land but illegal immigrant tribes enjoying the facilities in the name of Schedule tribe suppressing indigenous Meitei tribe.
Both GOI and State government careless the definition of Hill while framing law even world enters in technology era. The Indian Himalayan Region is spread across 13 Indian States (namely Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Tripura, Assam and West Bengal), stretching across 2500 km. Nearly 50 million people reside in this region, which is characterized by a diverse demographic, and versatile economic, environmental, social and political systems. (Sustainable development in Himalayan region; website: niti.gov.in).
Eastern Hills or The Purvanchal is the southward extension of Himalayas running along the north-eastern edge of India. Purvanchal hills are convex to the west. They run along the India-Myanmar Border extending from Arunachal Pradesh in the north to Mizoram in the south. South of Naga Hills is the Manipur hills which are generally less than 2,500 metres in elevation. South of the Manipur Hills are the Mizo Hills (previously known as the Lushai hills) which have an elevation of less than 1,500 metres.
Overview of development in Himalayan hill towns. Any area having an altitude of more than 600 m from the mean sea level or an average slope of 30° may be classified as hilly in India, which includes the Himalayas, the Central Highlands, the Deccan Plateau and the north eastern hill ranges. Depending upon the altitude and prevailing climatic conditions, hill regions have been classified into three categories as Foot-hill regions (below 1200 m), Mid-Hill regions (1200–3500 m) and High-hill regions (above 3500) – (building regulations of hills town of India. Author: Ashwani Kumar; HBRC journal)
Due to lack of technological knowledge, Hill State of Manipur is again divided into two regions, viz. the hill and the valley. The valley lies in the central part of the State and the hills surround the valley. The average elevation of the Imphal valley is about 790 m above the sea level and that of the hills is between 600 m and 1800m. However valley elevator below and average of 600 metres above the sea level in Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tamenglong are remains in hills districts. (https://peakvisor.com/adm/manipur.html ).
No scholar has been able to give an accurate time and date of first migration of Brahmin in Manipur however, in two major sources (manuscripts) of history of Brahman migration in Manipur, namely- Bamon Khunthok and Bamon Meihoubarol, it is mentioned that the first arrival of Brahmans in the state happened to be during the reign of king Kyamba (1467-1508 CE) and Manipur became a Hindu state after King Pamheiba of Manipur was converted to Hinduism by a Bengali Brahmin named Shantidas Gosai in the year 1717. So far, 75 Brahmins have been recorded given surname (Yumnak) and settlement in Manipur married with local women from 1467 – 1859. Pandit Loishang had properly recorded about the reasons for giving such Yumnaks (clan). Their ancestral home, their place of settlement in Manipur and their occupation, etc. were the main basis for giving the Yumnaks. The names of the local women married with the migrated Brahmans were also recorded in different periods of kings. Bamon are completely assimilated to Meitei society and they are Meitei Brahmin.
Authoritarian orthodox Hindu pundits teaches the people many practices of untouchability and blind beliefs as a result of these practices wide differences created between Meitei Hindu and other tribes, and among Meitei. Even British are untouchable. If British visited a Meitei house, then the house will be burned down by local as they feel untouchable. Practices were good during British period to distance the local people from British influences however, they continued till the middle of 19 century.
No Schedule tribe list of Manipur was published for Manipur in the SC and ST Orders (amendment) Act of 1950, 1956 India gazetteer. SC/ S T orders Amendment Act 1976 of India gazette 108 of 1976 dated 18 September 1976 enlisted 7 SC of Manipur namely dhobi, lois, Muchi, Namasudra, Patni, Sutradhar and Yaithibi. 29 ST of Manipur namely – Aimol, Anal, Angami, Chiru, Chothe, Gangte, Hmar, Kabui, Kacha Naga, Koirao, Koireng , Kom, Lamkang, Mao. Maram, Maring, Any mizo tribe, Monsang, Moyon, Paite, Purum, Ralte, Sema, Simte, Suhte, Tangkhul, Thadou, Vaiphei Zou. These 29 tribes are included in the listed of ST of 1976 gazetteer. The rest 10 tribes namely Poumei Naga, Tarao, Kharam, any kuki tribes and Thangal, Zeme, Rongmei, Inpui, Liangmei, Mate etc later included in ST list between 2000 to 2008 notifications.
Why Meitei tribe not in ST list? The method the BCC (backward class commission) adopted was the distribution of a questionnaire to all the states and union territories. It even included such questions like: “Do you think that the lists of SCs and STs issued under the president’s order need any revisions? If so, what castes or communities do you suggest for inclusion or exclusion from the above mentioned two lists (SCs & STs list)? Please state reasons…Have your state government recommended the inclusion in or exclusion from the existing lists of any tribe, caste, or community? When the first Backward Classes Commission commonly known as Kaka Kalelkar Commission,1955 under requested a list of tribes to be included in the Scheduled Tribes (modification) list from each state and union territory, Meiteis being Hindu did not include themselves by the opinion of 3/4 authoritarian orthodox Meitei Hindu without proper consultation of general people. However, many of Hindu tribes are in ST list of India. Even Meitei Hindu is not allowed to be ST, there are many Meitei Sanamahi indigenous religion believers and Meitei Christian, eligible to be ST and they may be given a chance to include in ST list. However, Kaka Kalelkar Commission was rejected by the central government on the ground that it had not applied any objective tests to identifying the backward class. L.G. Havanur BCC was formed in 1975. This commission recommended a list of communities that would be part of backward class and published in 1976 India gazetteer but the list of Meitei being ST was removed and many illegal immigrant tribes are included in ST list- resulting to snatching job and land of indigenous people. This is a big blunder. India government policy is uncertain, divisive and suppressive that is why people of Manipur remained unrest.

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