By: MC Birla Meetei
Imphal, June 11:
No exaggeration to say the Manipur Civilization was one of the earliest civilisation in the world contemporaneous with the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and older than the Indus Valley Civilization. The fact that Manipur is the birth place of polo is already supported by the Guinness book of World Records, by a declaration in the year 1991, as: “Polo can be traced to origins in Manipur state c. 3100 BC, when it was played as Sagol Kangjei.”
Manipur remained a powerful ancient Asian Kingdom for centuries but after the defeat of Manipur by the British in the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891, the sovereignty of Manipur which it had maintained for more than three millenniums, was lost. After the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891, the territorial boundary was made a significant change as per the administrative continence of the British. Subsequently, in the year 1894 the Somra Track of Manipur along with 12 villages of Tangkhul was handed over to Burma (Somra, Phungret, Ngachand, Hingkok, Chakprum, Tonsa, Mayanglong, Leiyung, Kongailong, Koki, Numityungbi and Leishi). Albeit, the Anglo-Manipuri Defence Treaty of 1762 affirms that Manipur’s territory extends deep into Burma and even up to the banks of the Brahmaputra River in Assam. The Henry Yule Map of Manipur, 1500 AD represents the lost boundary of Manipur till today.
The available records of King Kiyamba (1475-1714) shows that the Kyamlamjao (Kabaw Valley) was within the territory of the then Manipur (1475 t0). Then during the reign of King Pamheiba (1714-1749), the frontiers of Manipur extended up to the confluence of the Chindwin and the Irrawaddy River of the present Myanmar.There was no ethnic community such as Naga or Kuki which emerged lately after the birth of Naga insurgency and Kuki extremism. All the present day tribes were/are Meitei cognate tribes.
The Merger of Manipur with India (some section called it annexation of Manipur by India for which national liberation struggle for Manipur’s independence from India has been launched since 1950s) changed the map of Manipur drastically receded to the western foothill of the Kabaw Valley which Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru completely transferred it to Burma (now Myanmar)in 1953.
For more than three millenniums, the territory of Manipur had been defended by the succeeding kings (basically Meitei) of Manipur. The British take-over of Manipur in1891 and the Merger with India in 1949 have totally wiped out majority of the territory of Manipur. Still, there has been tussle over the erection of boundary pillars along the Indo-Myanmar border with the union government of India utterly neglecting calls for a dialogue, perhaps another appeasement policy with the Burmese for fear of the dragon.
For reasons best known to the Think Tank of India’s North Block, India has continuously put the map of Manipur as the laboratory guinea pig in the milieu of the Bangkok Declaration of June 14, 2001 to appease the NSCN-IM and now for appeasing the Burmese backed Kuki-Chin narco-terror militant groups. One narrative may suggests weakening of the major Manipur based armed opposition groups who are opposed to any form of peace talk with the union government of India except for the sovereignty of Manipur by slicing Manipur into different segments for different communities for maintaining the heartland of India intact. Another narrative suggests securing India’s expansionism towards Burma by annexing the Kuki-Chin inhabited areas of Burma and Bangladesh into the Indian territory in tandem with the Kuki-Chin insurgency.
What India must realise now is that Manipur was not merged with the then dominion of India as a piece of land but as an Independent Sovereign Country. India should in no way try to balkanise Manipur because by doing so India is committing a historical blunder by wiping out one the earliest three millenniums old civilisation called the “Manipur Civilisation” which gifted the world the game of Polo. India must roll out an amicable everlasting peaceful solution for Manipur under the backdrop of the May 3, 2023 military campaign by the Kuki-Chin Narco-Terror funded SoO signatory Kuki militant groups upon the unarmed civilian Meiteis keeping the Territorial Integrity of Manipur intact. India should not give the price of Manipur’s Merger by balkanising Manipur, if so, the whole drama may turn round where India cannot violate Manipur’s Territorial Integrity under the “UTI Possidetis Juris Rule”, when some friends of Manipur may petition for it at the International Court of Justice in the very near future.