Problem of 1949 Annexation of Manipur

Written By: / Articles / Thursday, 19 October 2017 16:39

(Contd. from yesterday issue)
By: Prof. Naorem Sanajaoba
(Translated by Aheibam Koireng Singh)          Second Issue
Whether the annexation of Manipur is right or wrong in the benchmark and practices of universally accepted jurisprudence has become a very crucial issue. Instrument of accession, Standstill Agreement, Indian Independence Bill, 1947 did not infringe upon the independence and sovereignty of the state. The Indian Independence Bill 1947 neither prohibited the state from accession to either of the dominion nor issued any mandate for accession. Instrument of accession also neither leads to devolution or suspension of state continuity. Viceroy Mountbatten took great responsibility in facilitating the accession- it is cited below.
Firstly E.W.F. Lumby writes that the people of London took the acts of Mountbatten concerning accession as very arbitrary and excessive. H.V. Hodson writes that Mountbatten illegally bypasses the Secretary of state and seeks Plenipotentiary Powers. In fact, Mountbatten never gave consideration to the interest of the state.
Secondly, as per laws and norms, when the political department worked for the sovereignty of the state, Mountbatten worked for the accession. As per Sir Conrad Corfield’s arrangement, a treaty relation between the state and as the paramountcy is very clear. So, accession before the end of paramountcy was considered as a “Breach of Faith”. It is because of this reason that Sir Conrad Cornfield, who holds the Charge of Political Department left his department and fled on 23 July without attending a meeting of kings he called on 25 July 1947.
Thirdly, concerted effort by Mountbatten to chart out a strategy to thwart and obstruct Communist movement, and to bring in India to the Commonwealth. The strategic importance of Indian ocean charted out by Clement Atlee and the determined effort to fill the void created out of Pakistan with the state’s territory. In short, he left no stones unturned and tried his level best for accession so as to serve the long term British interest. In addition to it, Mountbatten had the personal ambition of becoming the first Sea Lord or Governor General of Dominion of India. In fact, it can be said that the personal ambition nursed by Mountbatten falls in the Nehru-Patel-Gandhi’s trap of abolishing the independence of the states.  Altogether about 20 states deserve to continue its existence as independent states, remaining others were of miniscule village size only.
All the attempted annexation by India were not given consent and sanction by the United Nations
The Security Council of the United Nations after accepting the complaints on the invasion of Hyderabad put forward by Nizam on September 1948 was no longer pursued after the Nizam accepted defeat. India’s relation with Bhutan, as per Treaty of Friendship signed on 8th August 1949, India gave guidance to Bhutan’s relation with other countries. Why the dispute is still continuing today - the instruction by the Security Council to conduct Plebiscite could not be conducted by India. Article 2A and 10th Schedule were incorporated by the 35th Constitution Amendment regarding Sikkim which accordingly took over the Defence, Communications, External Affairs and Social Welfare. The 35th Amendment says, “Sikkim will not be a part of territory of India, but an associate state. But in the 36th amendment Sikkim was annexed by India. The Indian empire is expanding exactly the same like the British did in earlier times- this imperial expansion is likely to doom one day.hough, the complaint regarding the annexation of Manipur was not put up to the UN Security Council, UN had in very categorically made it known from the above mentioned that annexation is illegal. Though the dispute comes to a standstill as there was no longer alteration, in Manipur, there is a history of continued resistance in various forms by the people. Next, what can be contemplated is whether the Maharaja of Manipur has the power to integrate or merge Manipur to its neighbouring state.
In addition to the agreement to the treaty relation of Manipur by Akbar Hydari, Debeshwor Sharma, Katju, there have been many documents stating that British Paramountcy allows and gives sanction to the independence of the state. Article 8 of the Vienna Convention also says that an act relating to the conclusion of a treaty performed by a person who does not have full power as authorized to represent a State for that purpose is without legal effect.The treaty is invalid if it is signed without any capacity. Max Sorensen in his work stated that the treaty which was made to sign or act under duress or coercion is invalid. This very position was also shared and agreed by G.I. Tunkin.He writes that treaty which was signed violating the law and internal sovereignty of the country should be challenged. ‘Unequal treaties’ which derogate one party are treated as Jus Cogens by James Crawford.
The constitution of Manipur rather than authorising and giving Treaty making power only accorded a mere figurehead to the Maharaja of Manipur. In addition to it, Maharaja no longer holds any power after Manipur had a representative, republican and popular government. Maharaja himself also had written so many times to Shri Prakash Menon. That is why Maharaja would have signed the Merger agreement without any treaty-making power, capacity. The first article of the Merger Agreement reads: “His Highness, the Maharaja of Manipur hereby cedes to the Dominion Government full and exclusive authority, jurisdictions and powers for and in relation to the governance of the state.....”. The Maharaja no longer has the power of cession. Lastly, one Shri Prakasha without any mention of the post and portfolio he holds was a signatory to the treaty.
There are many agreed documents on rules governing the treaty in the world. Either in one reason or another, it would be hard to find the rationality that a just treaty had been signed. In Oppenheim’s word, such cases are subjugation. V.P. Menon who is a signatory along with the Maharaja in that illegal treaty himself proclaimed that the case of Manipur was that of taking over. He writes: In view of its position as a border state and its undeveloped character, it was decided to take over Manipur as a Chief Commissioners Province”. The reason, that this scheming and crafty imperial had given in justification of taking over the state, are, firstly, Border state; and secondly underdevelopment. If it goes by the shrewd logic of this imperialist, then there will be no countries in the world which would not be annexed by the USA- because when a new state is annexed, one new state is bound to become a border state. But if we go by the prevailing UN system and the international laws governing territories of the state(s), the annexation of Manipur is not right. A very recent case of liberating Kuwait from Iraq by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 660 using force is still fresh in people’s memory. Whereas since all small states being not oil rich, they could not get benefit out of international politics of oil. In India’s view, her southern boundary is protected by sea, northern boundary by the Himalayan Mountain range, and its Hindustan heartland will be safe only if the North-eastern states serve as its outpost in her eastern boundary.
Maharaja was made to sign the treaty under duress and coercion by house arresting using full military might. The people of this land of Manipur had not forgotten it till this day. The Telegram send by Shri Prakash to  Sardar Patel on 18 Sept, 1949 illustrates how the Maharaja was detained under duress – “HH must not under any circumstances be allowed to return to Manipur with his advisors and I have accordingly instructed police to detain here his party if they attempt to return before signing of agreement.
Please telegraph immediately repeat immediately authority for detention of HH and advisors under Regulation III or by whatever other means you consider might be appropriate. (Italics added).
Have already warned sub-area to be prepared for any eventuality in Manipur.”
No reasons could be found to say that a treaty/instrument signed by a mere titular monarch who was already a prisoner with no power to sign again encircled by the military is right. So, that is a wrong, illegal document. That is why, the Maharaja of Manipur concealed and kept the merger agreement in secret from the people. One thing which the learned Pandits of India should not forget is – it is legal to withdraw a sum of money from a bank cashier using valid note, but it would be certainly wrong if that sum of money is forcefully robbed at gunpoint wearing black mask. Nobody will say it is right to annex Manipur at gunpoint. People never accept and approve the Manipur annexation.
(to be continued)
(This article is being reproduced again in the interest of our readers who had missed it)

About the Author

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 25+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents. Rinku can be contacted at [email protected] 

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