TODAY -

Endless Kabaw Valley
(British created vicious cycle of Manipur, Burma and India)
- Part 2 -

By Dr Th Suresh *



The points are:-
a) King Mongyamba crossed Ningthe and traveled 3-4 days eastward and capture 100 Shan chiefs.
b) King Khagemba crossed Ningthe again and defeated a large number of Shan chief .
c) Garibniwaj not only crossed Ningthe but destroyed Awa Capital Sagaing/Tsitkiang repeatedly. This means he conquered not only Kabaw Valley and Pong Kingdom but the whole of remaining Burma and the boundary extended in all directions.
d) Britsher Brown, FRCSE in the same book mentioned in serial 3, but at page 60, also mentioned our boundary during Garibniwaj time. Garibniwaj defeated Alza King and made one Burman as Alva King under his command. The boundary at that time was :- West - upto Cachar, South- as far as water-shed flowing sea wards (means upto Irrabaddy basin on Bay of Bangol), and North - about 9 days journey from capital (means Manipur capital).
e) Vagyachandra, except during the three times flight to Kachar, more as less maintained the status quo.
f) Pointing to the period before Gambhir, noted British historian Watter Hilmilton reported to British Parliament in 1820 that Manipur was bounded on the north by Kachar, on the South by Assam, on the West by Bengal districts of Tripura and Sylet and on the East by the meeting place of Ningthe and Irrabaddy.

Hence based on these facts and considering the natural river courses and hill tracts, the Manipur boundary referred to the above period may be scratched as below :- On the North and North-East- a part of Nagaland going upto part of Patkai Ranges and still further upto the present Arunachal Pradesh boundary between the land tract bounded by River Tarrung.

On the South and South-East-a part of Mizo Hills plus the land tract bounded on the west by Mizo hills, Chin Hills and Arracan Ranges and on the east by Ningthe and Irrabaddy River upto its basin. On the west bounded by Tripura and Sylet, including Barrak valley. On the east - it extends far and far upto Awa Capital Alva. Probably River Irrabaddy and its tributaries are the natural boundary. Even there is the possibility that it extends beyond that.

iii) From 1825 - 30/3/1953 (i.e. upto handing over to Burma by Nehru)

During Gambhir's reign, the area was Shrinken specially on the west because of the Treaty of Yamdaboo wherein he renounces our claim of Cachar and Jayantia in exchange of Jiri. But other side remained intake. Hence the boundary during this time must have been :- On the West - bounded by Jiri River instead of previous Barak River; on the East - a few miles after crossing the Ningthe (how far is left to future historians), this will go up and down.

On downside (i.e. South Eastern) upto meeting place of Ningthe and Irrabady River and even a little down and upwards (i.e. North-East) probably goes upto Taret River flowing to Ningthe. On the North-Part of Nagaland plus the land between present Nagaland (East) and Tarret River (North) and Ningthe (East). On the south-part of Mizo hills plus the land tract between Chin Hills and upto the meeting place of Ningthe and Irrabaddy River (may even go further down).

This is proved beyond doubt by a) the treaty of Yandaboo which is a historical witness, b) the fact that Samjok lies on the eastern side of Ningthe, hence the two brothers conquered fertile land on the eastern side of the Ningthe which were parts of Samjok, Kendat and Kale. We have only to find out how far these areas extended.

The writer strongly feels that the following are wrong, ill-founded, hearsay historical myths : c) that Gambhir Singh declared Ningthe as our East boundary, who heard these words? d) Why should be Ningthe as our East boundary when the two brothers conquered land beyond Ningthe i.e. on the eastern side.

It is another matter that Gambhir, Nara Singh included, probably agreed Ningthe to be a natural boundary because of the prevailing weak situation in Manipur. Manipur was just recovering form Seven Years Devastation, was very weak economically and just regrouping politically and hence cannot go to another war with Burma.

14. The Kabaw Valley Agreement, 1834 : Meanwhile, the two great Cheaters Captain Grant and Lt. Pemberton had now been promoted to Major and Captain respectively during the intervening period. Instead of representing Manipur interest, as they did in the earlier round of negotiations with Burma, they shifted their stand and worked against Manipur interest. Using whole bag of tricks under their command, the two handed over Kabaw Valley to Burma on 9th January, 1834 without the consent of the Maharaja. The finalization was probably done in December, 1833. Gambhir heard if from reliable sources on 7th January, 1834 (Tuesday), had heart attack, had another attack on 8th which was worsened around 10 PM and subsequently died around 3 AM early morning next day (Source Kulachandra as quoted above).

15. Nehru and final hurrah : Upto the British transfer noted above, we claimed (read Budhachandra's inaugural speech) and can claim legally Kabaw Valley as our part as we were getting Rs. 500 sicca per month. However latter on, after merged to India on 15/Oct/1949, India's 1st Prime Minister added insult to injury and on his 2nd visit to Manipur handed over the disputed valley finally without compensation to Burma's Prime Minister U Nu on 29/30th March 1953 at Kohima. This has created permanent apple of discord between Manipur, India and Burma.

The above handing over was briefly but beautifully described by famous history Professor John Paratt of the University of Birmingham, as quoted by journalist K. Modhumangol in his book '(Earlier Manipuri Journalism and J.C. Tongbra), 2010, page 93.

16. Further shrinking of Boundary after mergered to India: While everyone is shouting and engaging in Manipur integrity, we have not attended to the loss of around 100 sq.km. or more boundary land since around 1970s or so. The boundary shank from around 22,356 sq.km. around 1970s to 22,270 sq.km. at present with boundary disputes at Maogate, Zuco Valley and Zesami region with Nagaland and Ukhrul and Moreh Sector with Burma. Who is listening, who is seeing accept this silent cry of Mother Manipur?

17. Unblemished historical propositions : Form the above various resources, remarks, quotations, discussions and findings, one can extract a few unblemished historical propositions. These are put forward as below for future young historians and researchers :-

i) As stated by Lt. Pomberton, Manipur's size extended or contracted according to the fluctuating fortunes and prowess of her monarchs. It was extended beyond Ningthe during Khumbomba, Ningthoukhomba and Kiyamba's reign. It was further extended upto Irrabaddy river during Mongyamba, Khagemba and Garubniwaz's period, Bheigyachandra maintained the status quo. In Garibniwaz's period, whole of the present Burma was conquered as he destroyed Awa capital Sagaing/Tsitkiang. If not the whole Burma, his conquest must have extended far beyond Irrabaddy and its tributarial tracts.

ii) What Nara Singh and Gambhir Singh conquered was beyond Ningthe River. That Ningthe River was the last boundary declared by Gambhir Singh is itself a historical myth. That Ningthe River is the natural boundary of Manipur itself was a myth created by Britishers for convenience of negotiations.

iii) The erstwhile Burma had four distinct independent areas governed by independent chiefs. These were - the upper and lower Chindwin river tract consisting of Samjok, Kendat and Kale, the Pong Kindom on North-East of Samjok, the lower Irrabaddy basin around Shan plateau and Peguyoma governed by Ka-yas and the rest governed by Alva Kings. That there were frequent fighting among or with Manipur Kings is also a historical fact. Samjok, Kendat and kale were ruled by different subordinate chiefs in the majority of period and by a single chief on occasion and were always under Manipur. The Kindong of Pongs and Ka-yas occasionally under us is also a historical fact.

iv) When one refer to Kabaw valley, we usually presume it to be the only valley portion upto Ningthe. This is extremely a hoax. Manipur mindset had been prisoned by subsequent ill-informed, less-educated historians and pseudo-intellectuals as follow up of British poisoning. We are also never clear about up and down of the river courses i.e. north-east and south-east limit of the presumed boundary.

v) The Kabaw Valley should mean and is meant the valley proper beyond Ningthe (upto which point I cannot say presently), the Angouching and surround hill tracts plus surrounding valley. It should extend upto the area where Tarret river flows to Chindwin in north-east and upto the meeting place of Ningthe and Irrabaddy River in south-east atleast. Even there is the possibility that it extends upto river basin where Irrabaddy River meets the Bay of Bangol. These are explained properly in serial no. 13 (iii) above.

It is a much larger area, even larger then the 7000 sq.miles quoted by Maharaj Bodhachandra. How far and how big is ill-defined as it was never mapped scientifically as stated by R. Brown. However on can have a proper idea and mindset seeing historical facts hearsay and natural courses of hills and rivers. Approximately the area should be twice the size of the present Manipur.

(N.B.: Approximate locations of Samjok and Ka-Ya (Koi) Kingdom is the knowledge the writer gained during conversation with Kulachandra Sharma.)

(An indepth analysis is a attempted for Kabaw Valley under different sub headings i) boundary - Past and Present, ii) Anglo-Manipuri relationship iii) Manipur - Burma relationship, iv) Indo-Manipuri relationship, v) various treaties and finally vi) what we can do; being published serial wise - editor)

To be continued ....




* Dr Th Suresh wrote this article for Huieyen Lanpao (English Edition) .
The author is an MD. WHO Fellow (Holland and UK), and Ex Director of Health Services, Manipur & Chairman, Dr. Suresh Centre for Foreign Studies & Placement
This article was webcasted on February 28, 2011.


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