TODAY -

A Brief Note On The "Chahi Taret Khuntakpa"
- 1819-1826 -
(Seven Years Devastation of Manipur)

Dr. N. Lokendra Singh *



Kabo Valley and Imphal had been crucial factors in shaping the relationship between Manipuri kings and the Burmese rulers at Ava during the 18th and 19th Centuries. While Kabo Valley was a vast stretch of fertile land with thick Teak Forest in the Sagaing Province of Burma, the Imphal Valley had been the centre of attraction for a number of migrants from east and west over the last many centuries.

After the death of King Jaysing, 1763-1789 (Chingthangkhomba), there were incessant conflicts for the power and authority among his children for 23 years after his death. Such a situation has attracted the attention of Burmese kings. Prince Labanayachandra succeeded his father was murdered by Chourjit Singh. No sooner Chourjit Singh succeeded the throne, his another brother Marjit Singh conspired against him.

However, as the attempt failed, he fled to Burma where he solicited the aid of the Burmese army and returned to Manipur in 1812 to expel Chourjit Singh. Upto 1819, Marjit kept his engagement with the Burmese but in that year he was attacked by a large Burmese army because of his defiant attitude and this compelled him to take shelter in the neighbouring kingdom of Cachar under Govinchandra.

In this invasion, the Burmese nearly de-populated the valley of Manipur. The Royal chronicle "Cheitharol Kumbaba" is replete with the story of the atrocities committed by the invading Burmese army. Existing folk and oral traditions alluded to the capturing of a large number of Manipuri artisan & craftsman who were subsequently taken to the Burmese court.

It is no wonder that during the 19th century, Manipuri Brahmans were used as astrologers in the Burmese Court and also that a good number of Manipuri cavalry men were used in the Burmese Army. A large number of Manipuris from fear of torture and harassment took shelter among the numerous hi11 tribes. Many other Manipuris also migrated and settled in the neighbouring districts of Cachar, Tripura and Sylhet district of Bengal (now in Bangladesh).

At Cachar, Marjit Singh had taken shelter along with Chourjit who had already taken refuse at the place. Gambhir Singh's - another younger brother - was also there along with them. King Govindchandra of Cachar our of respect for the Princes assigned certain paragannas to them for their support.

However, not satisfied with these overtures, the princes had forcibly taken a greater portion of the dominion of their benefactor. At the same time, they carry on quarrels and conflicts among themselves thereby rendering Cachar as miserable as they had made Manipur after the death of their father, King Jaysing.

Taking advantage of such a chaotic social and political scenario, the Burmese forces entered Assam and Cachar by passing Manipur and thereby caused alarm to the East India Company officers in the neighbouring Sylhet district. These new developments compelled the three Princes to forget their petty differences for some time and jointly solicited support from the British authority at Calcutta to drive out the Burmese from Cachar & Assam.

In 1823, the British Government had agreed to provide financial and technical assistance for training 500 Manipuris to be under the command of prince Gambhirsing. The new military force effected the expulsion of the Burmese not only from Imphal valley but also from Kabo Valley as far as Kalle making Ningthi river (Chindwin river), the eastern border of Manipur. The Treaty of Yandaboo, 1826 signed between the Burma & the British Government not only recognised Gambhir Singh as the king of Manipur but also that of the independence of the state.

With a view, however, of pleasing the Burmese authority, this boundary was afterwards given up at the desire of the British Government, and the Eastern base of the Yomadoung hills was adopted as the border. Infact the right of Burma to the Kabo Valley became a subject of dispute from the signing of the Treaty of Yandaboo.

In February 1827, the question of the boundary was discussed with the Burmese Minister and Mr. Crowford, the British Envoy (Despatch from Mr. Crowford dated 21st February, 1827) Captain Grant and Lt. Pemberton were appointed British Representatives to meet the Burmese authorities and settle the boundary issue. When the Burmese Commissioners presented their point of view on the basis of available maps at their disposal, they argued that Ningthi was not Chindwin but a river to the west of Kabo Valley.

However, the British Officers on the basis of living witnesses and other relevant testimony convinced the Burmese authority that the eleven towns of Khambat, Wokhong, Tummu, Mungsa and Sumjok comprising the whole extent of the Kubo Valley from Khambat, were held by Manipuri Thannadars on behalf of Rajah Chourjit Singh.

When the Commissioners of both Government met on the frontier in 1830, the Burmese acknowledged the incorrectness of their map, and the boundary was fixed, though the Burmese Commissioner would not consent to the renunciation of the territory.

However, with a view to appease the Burmese Government, the Government of India gave the final order in 1833 to its residence at Ava on 16 March of the same year "on your return to Ava you will announce to the King that the Supreme Government still adheres to the opinion that the Ningthi formed the proper boundary between Ava, and Manipur, but that in consideration of His Majesty's feelings and wishes and in the spirit of amity and good-will and wishes and in the spirit of amity and goodwill subsisting between the two countries, the Supreme Government consents to the restoration of the Kabo Valley to Ava and to the establishment of the boundary line at the foot of Yoma Dong Hills".

In return for the alienation of its territory, the British Government agreed to give an annual compensation of Rs. 500/- per month. Meanwhile, upto his death in 1834 Raja Gambhir Singh was engaged in the social and economic stabilisation of the state.


* Dr. N. Lokendra Singh (Director, College Development Council) wrote this for a Souviner called "Chahi Taret Khuntakpa Ningshing Numip".
This was released by Sanajaoba Leishemba - His Highness the Manaraja of Manipur.
Organised by : Chahi Taret Khuntakpa Ningshing Numit Celeberation Comittee, Hojai ( Sponsored by Manipur Shaitya Parishad, Hojai, Assam.)
This article was webcasted on September 05 2010.



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