Hijam Irawat and political movements in Manipur and the Surma valley

Hijam Irawat and political movements in Manipur and the Surma valley

Hijam Irawat and political movements in Manipur and the Surma valley

Written By: / Articles / Wednesday, 25 May 2016 16:54

By : Dr R.K. Sanajaoba Singh
Hijam Irawat was the harbinger of political awakening in Manipur. The political awakening symbolised by the fourth session of the Nikhil Hindu Manipuri Mahasabha (NHMM) developed into political movement and led into the historic Nupilan movement.  Irawat spread his political movement not only in Manipur, but also in the Surma Valley (Surma Valley is the collective name for pre-independence Cachar and  Sylhet Districts).
The political movement undertaken by Irawat may be periodically categorised as follows:
I. Pre-Second World War political movement in Manipur,
II. Political movement in the Surma Valley,
III. Post-Second World War political movement in Manipur.      
I.PRE-SECOND WORLD WAR POLITICAL MOVEMENT IN MANIPUR
Two events served as the preparatory stages for the emergence of the political awakening and political movement in Manipur.  The first is the resistance movement launched by Laikhuram Khagendrajit Singh inspired by the satyagraha movement of Mahatma Gandhi.  During the movement against water tax, Khagendrajit founded the Nikhil Manipur Praja (NMP) in 1932.  The movement resulted in the arrest of nine leaders out of whom six including  Khagendrajit were given jail terms.  On their release from the jail in April 1936 Irawat met Khagendrajit and discussed the emerging political scenario. This period of Khagendrajit’s social movement may be characterized as the proto-political period of social movement.
The second event was the social reform movement, a natural sequel to the intellectual and cultural initiated by Irawat, which was only a prequel to the people’s political movement against the British paramountcy.  Conceived during the Mandalay session of the Nikhil Hindu Manipuri Mahasabha (NHMM) on 28 February, 1 and 2 March 1937, the social reform movement had its epitome in the movement against the Brahmasabha, chaired by the Maharaja.  After his return from Burma, Irawat combined with Khagendrajit  and launched a movement  against Amang-Asheng – a practice of ex-communication enforced by the Brahmasabha.  Just after the movement against Amang-Asheng Khagendrajit and all the activists of the NMP joined the NHMM.
In the fourth session of the NHMM a momentous metamorphosis in the perspective and objectives of the organization occurred.  The communal qualifier ‘Hindu’ was removed from the nomenclature of the organization.  The other momentous transformation was the taking up of political struggle by adopting the demand for responsible government.  The session strongly condemned the repressive measures against those people in the states of Hyderabad, Mysore, Dhenkanal etc. who carried on agitations for fulfilment of their demands.  The Mahasabha also demanded the establishment of a legislative council for the attainment of a representative form of government.  The fourth session also passed other political demands also.  On the economic condition the Mahasabha resolved that in order to improve the economic condition and to enable to control the market an all-Manipuri Khadi Sangha be established by starting khadi pratisthans in the villages of Manipur and by propagating khadi culture.
In February 1939 the NMM forwarded an English translation of the resolutions passed in the fourth session to the President , Manipur State Durbar (PMSD for consideration and necessary actions.  The PMSD promptly responded by banning all state servants to take part in the NMM or to assist it in any way.  Maharaja Churachand  cut all off  all connections with the NMM. Most of the state servants who were members of the NMM voluntarily resigned  from  the Mahasabha.  Only two persons, viz., Hijam Irawat Sisngh and Elangbam Tompok  chose to sacrifice to their official positions for the people’s cause.  Irawat resigned from his post of Sadar Panchayat Member and gave up his wife’s landed property.  Tompok resigned from his post clerk in the Revenue Department.
In November 1939 Irawat as the President of  the NMM submitted an outline of the legislature to the Maharaja and theGovernbmenbt of Assam.  The outline envisazed  a unicameral legislature of 100 members of which not less than 80 were to be elected and 20 to be nominated by His Highness, corruption-free election and voting  secret ballot  and several other features.
In the year 1939 Irawat had become an activist of the Indian National Congress.  Before the outbreak of the Nupilan in December 1939, Irawat paid a visit to Silchar on   12 November and stayed there till 14 December 1939.  Achintya Bhattacharya says, “…Com. Irawat paid a visit to Silchar in order to assess the political situation and the Congress policy of those days…  Congressmen organized a reception for him and there in the reception I met him for the first time. He was clad in khaddar and he donned a Gandhi cap as was customary in those days.”  Irawat also visited the Jaroiltola village. He presided over a meeting held in a mandapa near the house of Thaunojam Chandrashwar .  Nikunja Goshai, a local leader of the Congress delivered speech.  In the said meeting Irawat spoke against the imposition of the arbitrary rule of the British Imperialist power. 
While Irawat was in Cachar, the Nupilan or the Women’s Uprising had broken out on 12 December 1939 at Imphal.  The absolute dependence of Manipur‘s economy on agriculture and the escalating rice export led to acute rise in  the price of rice resulting in great hardship of the Manipuri people.  At the same time, many Manipuri people could get the news of Mahatma Gandhi’s satyagraha movement from the office of the NMM at Nagamapal, Imphal.  Inspired by this news, many womenfolk approached the NMM regarding a women’s movement against the rise of the price of rice to be launched and requested them for intellectual guidance.
On 12 December 1939 a multitude of women picketed the PMSD as well as other officers of the government at the Telegraph 0ffice demanding the immediate stoppage of rice-export.  A confrontation between the agitating women and the sepoys of the Assam Rifles ensured resulting in the injury of 20 women, five of them seriously.  On receiving telegram to rush back, Irawat arrived at Imphal on 16 December 1939 and assessed the prevailing situation, particularly the role of the NMM.
The NMM was not in a position to guide the women’s agitation as it was a divided house. On 7 January 1940 when Irawat proposed a resolution for launching a massive people’ movement as a sequel to the women’s uprising, he was in a minority.  On the same day, Irawat organized a public meeting at Imphal.  In his historic speech, Irawat observed that it was not an agitation of the women but a movement of the people.  He appealed to the people not to pay land revenue to the state government as long as the British ruled in Manipur, to utilize the hills and the lakes without any payment, etc.  Irawat thus showed the Manipuri people the path of non-cooperation and civil disobedience movement.  The assembled people endorsed all resolutions proposed by Irawat.  A political organization named Manipur Praja Sammmelani was formed to execute the resolutions.
Irawat was arrested by the State Military Police from his residence in connection with the speech he delivered on 7 January 1940.  The Manipur State Durbar tried him under Durbar Criminal CaseNo.4 of 1940 and sentenced him to three years’  Simple Imprisonment.
While Irawat was in jail, the Nupilan went on upto January 1941.  The Manipur Praja Sammelani launched the non-cooperation and civil disobedience movement.  On the day the Manipur State Durbar sentenced Irawat the women vendors called a hartal in the market and strew the cloth-wares of the cloth-shops on the street.  As the Political Agent  and his police force could not control the situation the Maharaja himself went to the market and brought the situation under control.
After staying about a year in the Imphal Central Jail, Irawat was transferred to the Sylhet Central Jail.
II. POLITICAL MOVEMENT IN THE SURMA VALLEY
In the Sylhet jail Irawat had a new experience of the interactions of the Gandhin thought and the Marxist-Leninist thought.  Congress leaders of Assam, viz., Arun Kumar Chanda, Rabindra Aditya, Dakshina Ranjan Gupta etc. and Communist leaders, viz., Achintya Bhattacharya, Radharanjan Deb., Chanchal Kumar Sharma etc, came to be lodged in the same jail.  In the jail there were arguments between the Congress and the Communist prisoners regarding the character of the Second World War and about the possible victory of the Allied Powers.  Thus, Irawat could study the points of difference between the Congress and the Communist Party on the national and international questions.
Irawat could study the principle of Marxism-Leninism from the literature provided by his communist co-prisoners.  He freed himself of the ramifications of deep Vaishnavite and Gandhian conceptions to accept the philosophy of Marxism- Leninism. He was attracted most by the way of the problem of nationalities was solved in the Soviet Union and the CPI Programme in this regard was to his liking. Thus, Irawat made his choice and effected his philosophical and political transformation in the Sylhet Jail.
Irawat was released from the Sylhet Jail on 20 March 1943.  Although released from the jail he was banned from entering Manipur in view of his being a member of the Communist Party for the duration of the Second World War.
Irawat’s activities in the Surma Valley were multi-faceted and manifold but were linked organically.  His activities in the Surma Valley may be categorized as follows :-
(i) Political and kisan work,
(ii) Cultural activities,
(iii) Women’s organization.
(i) Political and kisan work
Communist leaders of Sylhet consulted with central and provincial leaders (i.e. Bengal Provincial Committee) and decided that Irawat should stay and work in the Manipur-dominated areas of the Surma Valley, particularly in the Cachar district..    
Irawat went to all Manipuri villages in Cachar district as well as Sylhet district.  Staying at Silchar, he did a lot of work to strengthen the Kisan Sabha.  Its mass influence grew as Irawat  took up kisan work in Cachar.   
In 1943 Irawat attended the seventh All India Kisan Conference at Bhakna Kalan in the Punjab Province (2-4 April 1943) as a member of delegation of the Surma Valley Kisan Sabha.  Among many resolutions the seventh Conference offered greetings  to the heroic Red Army of the Soviet Union and pledged its support to the people of China in their war against Japanese imperialism.  The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) called upon all the kisans (a) to unite in a campaign  for Gandhi’s release,  (b) to strive for a common effort to solve the food crisis and to organize a campaign for unity between the Hindus and the Muslims.  In respect of tenancy, the AIKS demanded that uniform legislation be adopted by all provincial government to prevent harassment and exploitation of tenants.
The Bhakna Kalan session also passed a resolution on the war-time situation in Manipur, manifestly on the initiative of Irawat.  The AIKS referred to the intense suffering faced by the Manipuri people resulting from the Japanese bombings, evacuation of civil populations without arrangement of settlements, closure of local markets, steep rise in the price of rice, threat of dearth of bullock owing to large-scale purchase of cattle for the Army.  In order to alleviate the sufferings of the kisans and the people of Manipur State, the AIKS demanded that immediate remedial measures be  adopted and urged on United Powers to see that this was done so that the popular rear of their troops facing the Japanese might be strengthened.
          Being invited by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (CPI0, Irawat attended the First Congress of the CPI held in Bombay on 23 May- 1 June 1943.  During the Congress itself he offered his application for membership of the Party.
          After returning from the Bombay Congress, Irawat stayed in the Patharkandi region of Karimganj Sub-Division and built up the kisan organization.  Men and women in large numbers thronged to hear the  messages of awakening and struggle from him.  In a very short period the entire region seemed prepared for greater struggle. Beginning with local demonstrations in the Patharkandi region, struggles were unfolded in the entire Karimganj Sub-Division.
          In the early part of 1944 Irawat left Patharkandi for Silchar.  Staying in the party office of Silchar, he organized the Kisan Sabha in the Barak Valley and started building the peasants’ movement.  In the Cachar District Conference at Katakhal village , Irawat was elected President of  the Cachar District Kisan Sabha.
         Irawat attended the eighth session of the AIKS held in Bezwada (now Vijayawada) in Andhra Pradesh in March 1944.    The Bezwada session demanded the immediate and unconditional release of Mahatma Gandhi and other leaders of the Congress Working Committee.  Resolutions were also passed on Grow-More-Food, food procurement  policy, extensive transfer of land  leading to landlessness and destitution of kisans in the famine-affected areas and its restoration to them etc. 
          After the Bezwada conference, Irawat was deeply engaged in the Anti-fascist and Anti-Japanese campaign as also Grow-More-Food campaign in the Cachar district in accordance with the resolutions of the said session.  However, the British government  harboured suspicion on Irawat and other leaders on the basis of a rumour spread by the Japanese agents that they collaborated with Netaji Subhaschandra Bose who allied with the Japanese.  In September 1944 he was arrested and detained at  Silchar jail for four months. Ten of his co-workers were also arrested and detained. The Central Kisan Council held at Calcutta on 30 November-3December 1944 demanded the release of Irawat , the veteran kisan leader of Manipuris both in the Surma Valley land in his home state of Manipur, who was then in detention without  trial.
          After release from the Silchar jail, Irawat was elected President of the Surma Valley Kisan Sabha (SVKS).  As President he led a delegation of the SVKS to the ninth session of the AIKS held in Netrakona (now in Bangladesh) on 5-9 April 1945.  He participated in the deliberations during daytime and at night he took part in the cultural programme. 
          In February 1946 a general election to the Asssm Proviincial Legislature was held.  The Assam CPI contested in three general seats and one tea-labour seat situated in the Surma Valley.  Irawat contested in the Silchar General Seat. Though he lost to the Congress candidate, Irawat won a large chunk of votes inspite of riding against the Congress wave.  It established the Communists as a polltical force in Cachar
          In the early part of 1946 the Tebhaga movement started in the Cachar district under the leadership of Irawat.  Many Manipuri peasants participated whole-heatedly in the Tebhaga movement in the Surma Valley.  Though Irawat returned to Manipur in March 1946, the Tebhaga movement continued in the Cachar district.  The Tebhaga movement reached its epitome in November 1949 when five peasants, four Manipuris and one Hindusthani, fell martyrs to the bullets of the police during the movement at the Borkhola area.

(ii)     Cultural Activities
          Irawat was not only a political leader, but also a cultural leader.
         In 1943, after being released from the Sylhet jail, Irawat stayed sometime in the Communist Party commune of Sylhet. There he met Hemango Biswas who was also putting up at the time.  Irawat got intensely interested in the progressive writers and the people theatre movements, which Hemango Biswas and others were then organizing in Sylhet and Cachar. 
          In his work as a peasant organizer in the Barak Valley, he also mobilised the village artistes.  Being himself an artist of versatile talent, perhaps he found it easier to work simultaneously at the political and the cultural level.  It was due to his influences that Guru Kamini , the leading exponent of Manipuri dance joined the people’s theatre movement. 
          Irawat built up some cultural squads in the villages, singing songs about the peasants’ struggle for land and other rights.  He composed songs in Manipuri narrating struggles of the people for freedom from the yoke of British domination and for resistance against the Fascist invaders.  These squads were composed not only of the Manipuris alone. Some ex-tea garden labourers and Bengali boys and girls were also there in these squads.  Patriotic and democratic songs in Manipuri, Bengali and spoken dialects of the ex-tea garden labourers were sung by these squads, which used to hold shows particularly in the rural areas and rouse the people to liberate themselves from the shackles of feudal and other oppressions.
         These squads commonly known as “Swadeshi Ganer Dal” were very popular among the masses. In the Sylhet district also the party had some cultural squads singing patriotic as well as class struggle- based songs which were organized under the guidance of Hemango Biswas.  When the Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) was founded in the Surma Valley, all the cultural squads of Sylhet and Cachar districts were incorporated in a single unit.  Hemango Biswas and Irawat  together took the helms of this unit.
          The epitome of Irawat’s achievement as a cultural leader was his performance at the All India Kisan Conference at Netrakona.  Irawat virtually shone at  Netrakona (now in Bangladesh) where he led a delegation of the SVKS consisting of a cultural troupe from the Cachar region.  In the open rally he presented his vigorous dance composition “Thangol Adu” along with his troupe inspiring the memorable gathering of about two lakh. While a wide variety of cultural activists from Bengal and Assam came to Netrakona, according to P.C.Joshi vide the People’s War (6-13 May 1945), “Dancing honours went to the Manipuri squad.”  P.C. Joshi, General Secretary of the CPI highly appreciated and encouraged the cultural programme prepared under the guidance of Irawat in which he himself also participated.

(iii)    Women’s organization
           Irawat worked not only among men, but also among womenfolk.  Wherever he went  he built up the Mahila Atmaraksha Samiti (MAS).  The units of the MAS at Patharkandi, Hailaakandi9, Silchar, Lakhipur, Ramnagar etc. which were built up under his guidance were strong units.
         In the second half of 1944 while Irawat was under detention in the Silchar jail,  an artificial crisis of scarcity of yarn occurred.  A massive agitation was launched against the scarcity of yarn by the womenfolk consisting of the Meitei, the Bishnupriya and the Burman communities under the initiative of the Mahila Atmaraksha Samiti.  Irawat hadplannedthe agitation and also guided it from the jail.  WLomen from Ramnagar Tooko. Borkhola, Joypur,Boaljur etc. participated in the said agitation.  In the course of the agitation Irawat  sent Tonjam Sona to visit the venues where Jayadeva singing were performed during the Kang festival of the Manipuri community.  Tonjam Sona took the opportunity to deliver speeches to the audience either before the start of the Jayadeva singing or at the close of it.  Thoussands of women assembled at the Gandhibag (formerly known as Thangampat).  The women masses went on a deputation to the Deputy Commissioner of the Cachar district.  The D.C. arranged to make the yarn available to the weavers after a week.
          On 28 February the ban imposed by the Manipur State Durbar on Irawat lapsed.  After taking leave of his beloved comrades,  Irawat  left  Silchar for Manipur on 3 March 1946.

III.POST-SECOND WORLD WAR POLITICAL MOVEMENT IN MANIPUR
          Having arrived in Manipur on 4 March 1946, Irawat met Laikhuram Khagendrajit  and Karam Bidur  and the three of them discussed to organize a meeting of the public  workers on 7 March 1946.  On the said day a meeting of the public workers was held at the residence of  Bidur at Wangkhei, Imphal, which reorganized and expanded the Manipur Praja Mandal (MPM).  The meeting passed resolutions on the pitiable condition of the roads in the Top area and other matters.  A Working  Commnitteeof 30 members was constituted.  Bhuban  Rajkumar, Gouramani , Hijam Irawat  and Dr. Leiren  were elected as the President, the Vice-President, the Secretary and the Assistant Secretary respectively of  the MPM.
          After returning from Cachar, Irawat could attend the meetings of the Working Committee of the  twice, the first on 5 April 1946 and the second on 15 April 1946.  After 15 April Irawat was expelled from the NMM without giving him any information.
          On 5 April 1946 a joint meeting of the Nikhil Manipuri Mahasabha and the Manipur Praja Mandal were held at Wangkhei, Imphal.  The said joint meeting passed several resolutions on the post-war civic and economic problems.  The sixth resolution dealing with the political questions reflects Irawat’s perspective Irawat’s perspective on the political identity of Manipur as well as his co-incidence with the leaders of other political streams. The English translation  of the sixth resolution which was signed by Irawat as the Secretary of the MPM was forwarded to the Viceroy of India and the Governor of Assam on 11 April 1946.  The forwarded resolution is cited below:-
          “Resolution No. 6:
(a)    It is already a known fact that Manipur will also be included in the North Eastern Frontier Province which is going to be constructed according to the plan proposed by Prof. Coupland.  This so called North Eastern Frontier Province will neither be included in India nor in Burma.  This is a reduction of a part from Assam and a loss to India. It is a plan to prolong the suppression of Manipur and the hill districts which are dependent, undeveloped and are not yet given their due rights.  This meeting strongly protests against this plan and the proposal as well.
(b)    This meeting resolves that Manipur will remain as a FREE MANIPUR STATE inside FREE INDIA where the Manipuris will be able to freely develop their own educational, cultural, political and economical aspects freely.  If those Manipuris residing in the neighbouring places of Manipur are willing to come inside the Free Manipur State enjoying equal rights then their places will also be included inside the boundary of the Free Manipur State.  And the people of Free Manipur State will decide by votes whether such a Free Manipur State will be alone or will affiliate to any province of Free India.”
          On 21 August  1946 a joint meeting of the Manipur Praja Sammelani and the MPM resolved that in order to cope with the emerging political situation, the two organizations be united into a strong political organization and be named the Manipur Praja Sangha (MPS).  A Working Committee of 21 members were elected.  Bhubansana Rajkumar was elected the President, Gouramani Sharma as the Vice-President, Irawat  as the General Secretary, T. Ibotombi  and T. Gouramani  as the Joint Secretaries and Pratap  as the Cashier.  The Manipur Praja Sangha was basically composed of urban activists.  For organizing the rural masses, Irawat concentrated on building up the Manipur Krishi Sammelani.  On 16 May 1946, at the second session of the Manipur Krishi Sammelani, Irawat was elected as the President.  Maimom Madhumangol  and Okram Ibomcha Kabiraj were re-elected as the General Secretary and the Assistant Secretary respectively.  The second session changed the name of the organization from ‘Manipur Krishi Sammelani’ to ‘Manipur Krishak Sabha’ (MKS).  The MKS became became the single peasants’ organization of Manipur.
         On 4 October 1946 a joint meeting of the three political parties, viz., (i) the NMM, (ii) the MPS, and (iii) the MKS was held at Imphal to form a single political party of Manipur.  However, the meeting turned out to be a conspiracy to negate Irawat from the political life of Manipur.  Irawat’s nomination from either the MPS or the MKS was rejected.  He was also not allowed to speak at the said meeting.  Irawat walked out of the meeting along with his supporters of the MPS and the MKS.  Only the twelve persons who stayed in the hall formed the Manipur State Congress.  The NMM ceased to exist from that day.
         The MPS was reorganized after Bhubansana joined the Manipur State Congress  The re-organized MPS celebrated the anniversary of the Nupilan on 12 December 1946 at Keishamthong, Imphal.  This was the first-ever celebration of the Nupilan held in Manipur. The MPS prepared and distributed a cyclostyled list of those protest-marchers who were hurt as well as those who were imprisoned in the course of the agitation.
          On that very day Maharaja Bodhachandra announced his declaration for the formation of a Costitution Making Committee.  The     MPS organized protest meetings in January 1947 against the biased, ambiguous and undemocratic manner in which the election was notified.  Inspitge of these protest meetings the election of the Constitution Making Committee was held on 20 January 1947.  In October 1947 the draft Constitution was completed. In March 1948 Rules for Election under the new Constitution were completed.  On 9 April 1948 the programme of work for the Manipur State Election,1948 was notified.  The election to the Manipur State Assembly was to begin from 11 June 1948.
         After the election to the Manipur State Assembly held in June-July 1948 the party-wise break-up of the total seat of 53 is – (1) The Manipur State Congress – 14, (2) The Manipur Krishak Sabha – 5, (3) The Socialist Party – 3, (4) The Manipur Praja Santi Sabha – 12, (5) Hill Areas – 18, and (6) Nominated – 1.The MKS contested in 23 seats and won in five.  The following are the elected candidates of the MKS:-
1.    Hijam Irawat           -          Utlou
2.    Takhellambam Bokul      -          Pangei
3.    Ayekpam Angahal           -          Nambol
4.    Maimom Madhumangol -         Pungdongbam
5.    Thokchom Shyamo           -         Kakching
          On 18 October 1948 the Maharaja inaugurated the first session of the Manipur State Assembly. Irawat was not destined the attend the Assembly as he was compelled to lead an underground life by the State Authorities after the “Pungdongbam Incident”  This famous Incident occurred between a contingent of peasant rallyists who came to participate in the protest meeting at the Manipur Dramatic Union of Imphal and a group of police force led by the Officer-in-Charge.  The protest meeting was being organized by the MPS and the MKS jointly under the guidance of Irawat to express disapproval of a proposed scheme of a section of the Indian National Congress for the formation of a new State to be called the Purbanchal Pradesh by combination of Manipur, Tripura and the Cachar district of Assam.    In the scuffle that occurred at the Pungdongbam area, the O.C. of the police was killed by a bullet fired from the side of the police.
          On the very day of the Incident the Interim Government of M.K. Priyobarta issued a warrant against Irawat and many of his associates.  The Manipur State Council declared the MKS   the MPS to be unlawful.  A massive repression was launched on the members of the MKS in all corners of Manipur.
          The Pungdongbam Incident became a watershed in the political history of Manipur.
          Although the protest meeting at the MDU could not be held because of lthe Pungdongbam Incident, it had a great poltical fall-out.  The proposal of the Purbanchal Pradesh wsa drowned  in the political turmoil unfolding in Manipur.  The immediate effect of the police repression was that most of the activists of the MPS fled from it.  The MPS passed into non-existence.  The remaining members joined the communist movement.
         The MKS survived the repression.  Most of the members of the MKS became communists soon.  Though elected to the Manipur State Assembly, the ruling clique wanted Irawat to remain outside the Assembly.  He was forced to go underground. This ushered in a new type of political movement in Manipur, i.e.,  revolutionary movement.  The Communist Party of India was built up in the  underground period and undertook a militant revolutionary struggle with the peasantry as the backbone.
          After he returned to Manipur in March 1946 irawat did not immediately establish a unit of the CPI. He was steadily enlightening his close associates on the principles and organization of the Communist Party.  In February 1948 Irawat along with other delegates attended the first  Assam Provincial Conference of the CPI.  Irawat was elected to the Assam Provincial Committee of the CPI.  He presided over the open session and mass rally, where he called upon the people to strengthen the party. Being elected as one of the delegation, Irawat attended the Second Congress of the CPI on 28 February-6 March 1948.  During the Congress in Calcutta Irawat had talks with the fraternal delegates from Burma led by Thakin Than Tun, particularly on tribal areas inside Burma bordering Manipur and the rest of India.  The Second Congress adopted the “Russian Path” line of B.T. Ranadive  The call for leading the revolutionary upsurge  to the people’s democratic revolution was the main theme of the Second Congress.  The political thesis of the Congress and other documents  worked out a full-fledged left-sectarian, dogmatic and left-adventurist line and  pursued it  relentlessly. The sectarian line of   exaggerating the revolutionary upsurge and trying to lead it to the path of armed struggle  had disastrous consequences.
          While actively organizing the MPS  and the MKS, Irawat was making effort to build up the communist movement in Manipur. The first unit of the CPI was formed on 23 August 1948 at Keishamthong, Imphal.  A District Organising Committee (DOC) was formed at the said meeting.  Takhellambam Bokul was elected as the first Secretary.  The first DOC became defunct from the Pungdongbam Incident. On 29 October 1948 the DOC was re-organised and strengthened by incorporating committed members.  Thokchom Boro  was elected as the Secretary.  In the period from October 1948 to June 1950 the Communist Party developed roots in Manipur.  Under the guidance of the DOC a strong movement of the peasants was built up based on the Krishak Sabha which was organized by Irawat.  The movement was largely successful in giving benefits to the peasants.  Along with the peasants’ movement the DOC formed a Red Guard.  The Communist Party was successfully beginning to implement an armed revolution with the formation of the Red Guard and giving military training to the village militia.
          As the activities of the DOC became a regular feature and the Red Guard began to conduct its training camps successfully, the state authorities resorted to repressive measures to capture the communist cadres, more particularly, the inspiring spirit Irawat .  Initially a reward of Rs. 1000/- was announced on the capture of Irawat whether dead or alive.  Among the quantum of the reward was magnified to Rs 10000/- which motivated many opportunists to act as intelligence informants for the security forces.
          In the early part of 1950 the DOC resolved to contact the communists of Burma.  In May 1950 Irawat started for Burma and reached there soon.  He arranged for the training of the Red Guard by the Burmese communists.  Batches of Red Guard cadres were sent by the DOC and trained by the Burmese communists and provided with weapons.  In the midst of his hectic engagements, Irawat died of typhoid  at  Tangbaw village of Burma. 
          Meanwhile, on 21 October the Central Committee of the CPI announced withdrawal of the Telengana armed struggle.  After eschewing the armed struggle the CPI  began to  take the democratic path of struggle and participated in the parliamentary elections held in 1952.    In Manipur also an overground group of the CPI was formed.  Thokchom Bira contested as a CPI candidate in the first parliamentary election of 1952.    The Secretary of the official faction was Thokchom Bira and that of the faction was Lamabam Ibobombi .  With the inter-faction relation full of stress and strain This condition of parallel functioning of the two parties conti8nued till 1956.  With this, a historical period full of twists and turns came to an end. 
         To conclude, Irawat was a multi-faceted personality.  During his chequered life, he made far-reaching contributions in different aspects of Manipuri society.   He was not only a leader of the Manipuri people, but by his unstinted work for the Surma Valley peasantry he became the beloved leader of the Surma Valley, viz., the Manipuris, the Bishnupriyas, the Bengalis and the Burmans.  It is indeed an irony that while he was hunted in Manipur and led an underground life, the people of the Surma Valley had already honoured him as Jananeta Irawat .  In fact Irawat’s life was a legend.
                                                                                      
                     BIBLIOGRAPHY
1.    Laikhuram Ibobi Singh, Manipur Praja Sammelani Amasung Anishuba Nupilan (Manipuri), Imphal, Published by the author,1987
2.    Laikhuram Ibobi Singh, October Revolution:1935, Manipur(Manipuri),Impahal, Manipur Political Sufferers Association, 1985.
3.    Loitam Yaima Singh and R.K. Maipaksana Singh(Ed.), Nikhil Hindu Manipuri Mahasabha, Imphal, 1983
4.    N,. Joykumar Singh, Social Movements in Manipur, New Delhi, Mittal Publications, 1992
5.    Karam Manimohan Singh ,Hijam Irabot Sisngh and Political Movements in Manipur, Delhi, B.R. Publishing Corporation, 1989
6.    Soyam Chhatradhari, Manipurgi Itihasta Irawat, Imphal, Manipur State Krishak Sabha, 1972
7.    Soyam Chhatradhari, Manipurgi Itihasta Irawat (new edition), Imphal, Soyam Publications, 1996.       
8.    Mongjam Ritichandra, Meeyamgi Luchingba Irawat, Nambol, Publishedd Smt. Tababi Devi, 1977
9.    Jananeta Irawat Amadi Magi Wakhallon(Souvenir), Jananeta Ireawat Centenary Celebration Committee, Imphal, 1996
10.    Select Documents of Jananeta Hijam Irawat, LVol.1, Manipur State Archives, Directorate of Art& Culture, Govt. of Manipur,1996
11.    Thokchom Bira, Comrade Irawat, Imphal, Progressive Literature House, 1990
12.    Girban Ranjan Biswas, Peasant Movement in North East India (1946-1950), New Delhi, Regency Publications, 2002.
13.    Rajani Devi, Nupilal (Manipuri), Imphal, published by the author, 1985
14.    M.A. Rasul, A History of the All India Kisan Sabha, Calcutta, National Book Agency, 1974
15.    Naorem Sanajaoba(Ed.), Manipur Past and Present, Vol.I, Delhi, Mittal Publications, 1988
16.    R.K. Sanajaoba(Ed), Irawat Sentinel of the East, Imphal, Irawat Centre for Marxist Studies, 1988
17.    R.K. Sanajaoba(Ed), Jananeta Irawat Singh the Humanist Crusader, Imphal, Irawat Centre for Marxist Studies, 1999.
18.    B.V. Sinha, The Red Rebel in India, New Delhi, Associated Publishing House, 1968
19.    A.P. Srinivasamurthy, History of India’s Freedom Movement (1857—1947), New Delhi,      S.Chand & Co., 1987
20.    Harkishan Singh Surjeet, The History of the Kisdan Sabha, Calcutta, National Book Agency, 1996                                                                         
1.          Interview  with Maisnam Brajachand, Ramnagar Tooko, Silchar on 18 Octobr 1998.
2.          Interview with Dwijendralal Sengupta, Silchar on 19 Octobr 1998
3.         Interview with Laishram Irendra Singh, Patharkandi, Karimganj district on 20 October 1998
4.         Interview with Mani Rai at Silchar on 21 October 1998.
5.         Interview with Bhupati Chakiravarty in Silchar on 21 October 1998.
 6.         Interview with Thengmaijam Chandrababu, Ramnagar Tooko, Silchar on 22 October 1998
 7.         Interview with Tonjam Sona, Jaroiltola, Cachar district on 24 October 1998.
 8.         Interview with Laikhuram Ibobi, Wangkhei, Imphal on 11 November 2002.
9.          Interview with Thounaojam Chandreshwar, Jaroiltola, Borkhola on 24 October 1998

About the Author

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum

Maheshwar Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since 2013. An avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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