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Unforgettable September

by Rinku Khumukcham
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September 19 of 1948 and September 21 of 1949 are two significant days in the history of Manipur. Revisiting the two historic events that have changed the fate of Manipur is to create awareness among the people of today’ generations as well as to the future generation on the importance of thinking twice before making any decisions or acting on it if the matter is of national importance, no matter if it cost our life. Repentance or frustrations on what had happened on those days is not going to help but considering the two historic events as the fate of Manipur but the events should be a lesson of today’s generation to make sure that peace and prosperity are not disturbed in the region.
For people working in the field of media here in the state of Manipur, he was the father of Journalism. But people recognized him more as the pioneer leader of the erstwhile nation who had sacrificed all comfort of life for the people of the region. Hijam Irabot, the multifaceted leader of Manipur went underground on this day in 1948, even after he was elected as a member of the Manipur Assembly. Then, Manipur was an independent nation like India but had its constitution before India have one.
Hijam Irabot went underground while attending a meeting at MDU Hall on this day of 1948, to protest against the proposed formation of Purbachal Pradesh, comprising Manipur, Tripura, Cachar, and Lushai Hills. Reason – a police person died accidentally at Pungdongbam when a scuffled occurred between a group of people coming to attend the meeting and a police team who tried to stop them. It was after the incident that the architect of Purbachal Pradesh took-back their stand Manipur’s distinct identity remains as it is that has existed for more than 2000 years. Why the then Manipur State Council did not support Irabot’s movement against the formation of Purbachal is a matter that needs to be discussed. And if the then Manipur State Council was against such a proposal of Purbachal Pradesh, the State Council should not have declared Manipur Praja Sangha and Manipur Krishak Sabha as unlawful, for the incident that took place at Poungdongbam on that day. Leaving aside all the diplomatic strategy of those times, one thinks that the people need to remember is that it was Hijam Irabot who protected the territorial integrity of Manipur for the first time after the British left. The spirit of the pioneer leader still runs to many Manipuris till today and the government of India should know that the essence of patriotism for the love of their motherland still is in the blood of thousand Manipuris and any attempt to change the boundary of the state may produce not only 2001, June 18 people’s uprising but a more deathly agitation.
A year after, i.e. on this day of 1949, Manipur’s king Maharaj Bodhachandra signed a controversial merger agreement to the Union of India at Red land in Shillong. Shillong Times newspaper reported the merger as annexation. That was an event which is the root of the present-day conflict between armed opposition group and the government. The earlier event of 1948 was the first to plant the armed movement in the soil against the establishment. And naturally, both events can be considered as the root of the present-day conflict.
If the two events are well understood and given due respect by listening to the voice of the people of this region, a final settlement to the conflict may be in the card. Giving official recognition to both the incident and an apology from whoever made the mistake will give a lasting peace in the region.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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