Government of India's historical blunders and what remedies will rectify the blunders
- Part 2 -

Dr. Khomdon Singh Lisam *

Manipur on India Map

On 18th Sept. 1949 Mr. Prakasa sent Telegram to Sardar Patel and V.P. Menon:
" Manipur Maharajah detained under regulation III & any other means ' (code language of house arrest of King under military siege) - King as captive, mental torture and coercion by Indian forces. "... HH (sic. Manipur king) 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 (1949 Merger Agreement). Please telegraph immediately repeat immediately authority for detention of HH and advisors under Regulation III (sic. abduction and kidnapping of the king by foreign Indian security forces) or by whatever other means you consider might be appropriate. Have already warned sub-area to be prepared for any eventuality (sic. Covert military aggression and coup) in Manipur. Grateful for further instructions. Ends." Sardar Patel, who was by then seriously ill. When Prakasa ventured to suggest that the Maharajah might not agree to sign the merger document, Patel's reply left him in doubt as to the course of action he would need to take in such an eventuality.

On 19 September, again Maharaja wrote " If I am compelled to work independently of my people , my action will be quite unjustifiable …… It seems to me that the best course would be to allow me to go back Imphal and arrange to bring about a very speedy solution of the matter ". Mr. Rustomji, Military Advisor to the Government of Assam reportedly threatened that if Bodh Chandra did not sign the Merger Agreement, he would never leave Shillong. Maharaja Bodhchandra was so deeply upset that he reportedly wept profusely on the way back to Redlands, and Gourhari feared that he would 'behave insanely'

Mr. Prakasa continued to pressurise Maharaja Bodh Chandra by sending him a written message to the effect that he had now been instructed that the merger had to be signed by the 30th September . The Maharajah, by now composed, again responded that it would be unconstitutional for him to sign the merger agreement , since sovereignty in Manipur had been transferred to the elected Assembly. Mr. Prakasa immediately cabled Sardar Patel that since the Maharajah was intending to return to Imphal for consultation he had instructed the police to detain him and his party if they attempted to leave Redlands. He requested the Deputy Prime Minister immediately to telegraph instructions for Bodhchandra's detention under any orders whatsoever . Both the police and army guards on Redlands were doubled Sardar Patel demanded " Is there no Brigadier in Shillong ?

The sequence of events vividly portrays the deceitful and forceful manner in which the Merger Agreement was extracted from the Maharaja . Such kind of Agreement under threat and coercion and through deceitful means which are the beyond the scope of international laws should be declared as " null and void " as this was done against the popular voice of the people .

7. The 4th sitting of the 3rd session of the Manipur State Assembly in its session held at the Johnston School on 28th September, 1949 at 2.30.p.m. in protest against the "Merger Agreement signed on 21st September 1949" declared the Merger Agreement was invalid as the powers and authorities of Maharaja had been vested with the State Assembly . The excerpt of the Assembly proceedings was published in the Manipur State Gazette, part IV, dated 14 October 1949. Mr. T.C. Tiankham Speaker , Mr. M. K, Priyobarta Singh, Chief Minister amd 6 other Ministers and Hon'ble 43 Members were present and adopted the resolution . The copies of the declaration signed by P.B. Singh, Chief Minister, T.C. Tiankham, Speaker, Arambam Ibungotomcha Singh, Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs. was sent to the Government of India. But the democratic India has no time to give a reply to democratic Manipur on this issue during the last 65 years.

From the foregoing , it is clear that the process of signing the Merger Agreement could never be justified and accepted by people of Manipur. The sense of betrayal by the Government of India is still in the psyche of the masses particularly the young generations of Manipur .

7. Once Manipur became part of the India, the Government of India dissolved the State's Constitution Assembly in October, 1949 without repealing the Manipur Constitution Act-1947 . This is another blunder The Government of India placed Manipur a part C state . This was a disgrace to the state and the people of Manipur . Further it was degraded to the status of the union territory from 1956 onwards. In 1972, Manipur was elevated to the status of a state (or province) after a long and protracted struggle. Nagaland was raised from a village republic to Statehood on1 December, 1963 as a part of appeasement policy of the Government of India towards the Naga underground movement. Manipuris took it as an gross insult to the state and the people of Manipur perpetuated by the Government of India.

8. It is fact that Maharaja Bodhchandra said " the voice of the Majority is my voice" whether they prefer accession to India or not . . He was expressing his opinion to have a referendum of the voters. The question of the accession of Manipur to India should be decided through the democratic method of a free and impartial plebiscite or referendum as admissible under the U.N. The Government of India had conducted two referendums in case of Junagadh princely state and Sikkim state .

Junagadh , a princely state joined India on 9 November 1947. but the referendum held on 24 Feb 1948 approves and confirmed its accession to India. When Sikkim achieved independence in 1947, a popular referendum for Sikkim to join the Indian Union was held but it failed and the Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to a special protectorate status for Sikkim. However, on April 14, 1975, another referendum was held, in which Sikkim voted to merge with the union of India. Sikkim became the 22nd Indian State on April 26, 1975. On May 16, 1975, Sikkim officially became a state of the Indian Union.

The referendum in case of Manipur is pending. As the Union Home Minister, Mr. G.K. Pillai must have studied the files pertaining to Manipur and must have realised the historical blunders committed by India during the last 65 years.

Now , two options are possible :-

1. Restoring the sovereignty of Manipur . This the Government of India will never agree because of so many factors.

2. Amendment of Article 371C of the Indian Constitution. The present Congress Ministry in Manipur may hesitate to take up this issue if they are not very clear about it. Once they know that this is the mandate of the people, then perhaps, they may not hesitate .

What we need to do now :-

1. The Civil societies, Youth clubs , Women's organisations, Students bodies, Meira Paibees etc may consider organising intensive and extensive advocacy campaigns to sensitise the people about the core issues of Manipur.

2. The Media Channels may sponsor various media programmes like Panel Discussions , Hard Talks with the active participation of eminent historians, eminent Lawyers and representatives of civil societies .

3. The Print Media may encourage articles, features , letter to the editor on this topic .

4. A Lawyers Conference may be held by inviting the High Court Judges and other prominent lawyers of the State . The responsibility may be given to the All Manipur Lawyers Association where the legal implications may be discussed .

5. The Universities and Research Organisations may be requested to organise a scientific seminar on this topic in collaboration with the department of Political Science with participation all faculty members and University Students .

6. The advocacy campaign may be targeted to the legislators with a request to adopt an Manipur Assembly Resolution with the preparation of a draft amendment for submission to the Government of India .An All Political Parties Conference may be held with the involvement of Governor, CM, Cabinet Ministers, MLAs to discuss the core issues and have threadbare discussion and taking certain decisions . The key note addressed may be given by some civil society representative .

7. A well thought out Action Plan may be formulated by all Political parties for lobbying with the National Parties to get the proposed amendment passed . No star questions by the MPs should be permitted or allowed . Such approach is one way of sabotaging the plan.

8. All the 60 MLAs may offer to resign if the Government of India refused to consider the proposed constitutional amendments on the same line in which the Nagaland MLAs offered to resign en masse . All the 60 MLAs may be aware that this is a cause which is worth fighting for and worth dying for .

9. A draft constitutional amendment Bill may be prepared by a duly constituted Expert Committee and submitted to the Government for consideration and for the necessary support for referring the Government of India.

The following points may be considered for incorporation in the proposed amendment :-

1. The Article 3 of Indian Constitution regarding alteration of state boundaries shall not apply in respect of Manipur to protect the 2000 year old territorial integrity of Manipur .

2. The Union List and Concurrent list pertaining to Manipur shall be taken up by the Government of India only with the concurrence of the State Legislative Assembly

3. Any person from other states of India shall need an Inner Line Permit to enter Manipur on payment of nominal fees. There will be no bar on entry.

4. Any person from other states of India shall require a Work Permit to work in Manipur on payment of nominal fees

5. Any person from other states of India will not be allowed to purchase lands without approval of the State Government .

6. Business establishments and enterprises shall be opened only in the name of the indigenous people of Manipur .

7. Manipuri women married to any person from outside the State shall not have the right of inheritance to land property and shall not be allowed to purchase lands in her name as done in other states and countries .

8. The rights , identity, customs , culture, traditions , religion , language, script of indigenous people of Manipur will be protected.

9. The rights of the of the indigenous people of Manipur to lands, forest and mineral resources will be protected .

10.The Pakhangba –Sanamahi religion, which is the indigenous religion of Manipur should be recognized as one of the religions of the State.

12. The Constitution should provide establishment of an upper house ( Legislative Council ) with a minimum of 30 members .

13. The Number of Rajya Sabha MPs should be increased to seven (7) on the basis of equal representation of states as done in USA and other countries,.

14. The Manipuri script ( Meitei Mayek) should be included in the coins and currency bank notes

15. The followers of Pakhangba –Sanamahi religion may be put under Scheduled Tribe category of the Indian Constituion.


* Dr. Khomdon Singh Lisam wrote this article to
The writer can be contacted at khomdonlisam2005(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)uk
This article was posted on October 26, 2012.

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