A brief history of Manipur Police
- Part 2 -

Waikhom Damodar Singh *

The new districts carved out for more convenience of the State administration were named—

  1. East District (Ukhrul),
  2. North District (Senapati),
  3. West District (Tamenglong),
  4. South District Churachandpur) and
  5. Tengnoupal (Chandel) District in addition to the
  6. Imphal valley District (Central).
The Manipur Police Service Officers who became the first Superintendents of the new districts formed on promotion were—Sarvashri W Damodar Singh, L Jugeshwore Singh, S Bimolchandra Singh, Moirangthem Tomchou Singh and P Gangte respectively.

As already mentioned it was in January 1893 that a start was made for the Civil Police of the State with the above mentioned strength of staff with a Police station established at Imphal with a jurisdiction throughout the state and with a few sepoys taken from the already established SMP as constables who "wore" green khaki jumper, green dhoti and red saloo pugrees as their uniforms.

The pay scale of the force was ­Rs 50/- per month for the Sub-Inspector, Rs 20/- for the 1st grade Head constable, Rs 17/8/- for the 2nd grade Head constable and Rs. 8/- for a constable. Three senior constables were granted Re. 1/- each per month as good conduct allowance.

From 1910 onwards the Eastern Bengal and Assam Police Maunual was followed in spirit and it was during the period that the need of a rural Police was realised and so chowkidari system in the State was evolved. One chowkidar was appointed for about one hundred houses and they were paid Rs 2/- each per month and half a pari of land free and 12 pots (bags of 1 maund capacity) of paddy from the villagers were given as their remunerations.

One interesting incident regarding operation of the Indian Penal Code in Manipur that time was that on the 15th March 1904 and on 4th August in the same year the residential buildings of 3 European officers and some other houses of Khwai bazar, Imphal were set on fire by some highly irated section of people and 6 Rajkumars involved as their ringleaders were convicted for the same and sentenced to rigorous imprisonment.

They were to undergo the sentence at the Jail at the erstwhile Shylhet district of greater Assam province but the authorities there refused to receive the convicts as no section of the Indian Penal Code was mentioned on the commitment warrants and therefore thereafter the operation of the Indian Penal Code was brought-in in the State.

The Manipur State Darbar came into being in 1907 and the Administration of Manipur except the few city area of Imphal known as the British. Reserve was transferred to the Maharaja and to his Darbar. One of the members of the Darbar used to be incharge of the Police Department and was designated as Police Member. Shri Ningthoujam Gokul Singh was the first Police Member of the State.

As for the Armed side it was on the 19th of October 1892 that a State Military Police Force under the name "SMP" came into existence with Mr FL Crowford, Assistant to Political Agent to Manipur, appointed as the first Commandant of the force.

The strength of the SMP on 31 March 1893 was, 1 European officer as commandant, 14- local officers, 48 NODs and 320 sepoys against the sanctioned strength of 400 with green pugree, jumper, dhoti with brown belt as their uniforms which changed over later on to olive green breeches with woolen patis, closed-neck jackets and kilmarnock (round shape) caps with chin straps and further from 1948 onwards when converted to the 1st Bn Manipur rifles to olive green shorts/trousers, shirts and gurkha hats as similar to the uniforms of the Assam Rifles.

Two company of the SMP in three batches also received active military training at the training centre of the Garhwal regiment at Lansdown Garhwal hills from 11.12.1916 to 5.2.1917 under the scheme keenly desired and evolved by the Maharaja, Sir Churachand Singh as its commandant and a contingent of the SMP so trained in the military active duties was sent as the leading troops of the 22nd Manipur Labour Corps of 2000 strength to France in 1917 as a part of the first World War assistance rendered by the Maharaja from his side to the British Government for such a very valuable assistance rendered by the Maharaja to the British Government during the first World War they conferred on him the title, KCS, ICBE (Knight Commander Star of India, Commander British Empire.

Initially the sepoys of the SMP were not given regular salary but were compensated by grant of land in lieu of pay and their appointment was also hereditary ie the son would succeed the father as a sepoy. However as a process of reorganisation followed soon the pay scale of the staff of the SMP was, Rs10/- and 4 Paris of land for a Subedar, Rs 8/- and 3 Paris for a Jemadar, Rs 6/- and 2 paris for an Havildar and Rs 4/-and 1 and 3/4 paris for Naiks. Each man in addition received "a ser of rice" as daily ration and 12 pots of paddy were also given to them annually if no land was allotted.

Mr FL Crowford as the commandant of the SMP was followed by other European officers, namely, LT Good Enough, Hudson, E Mitchell, Huges-Huges, IP, TA Sahrpe, ICS, LT Wilson, IP and GA Webster, IP and the organisation renamed as the 1st Battalion, Manipur Rifles in the year 1948 became the 'fore-runner' of all the Manipur Rifles Battalions whose strength have gone up from a solitary strength of a Battalion of 4 company to some 15 Battalions by now including those of the 7 battalions of the India Reserve Battalions raised recently which may be deployed anywhere outside the State as and when required by the Government of India as financing of the units is partly done by the Central Government.

In the year 1907, on attaining the age of majority, Sir Churachand Singh having received education including of the princes Cadet Corp training at Mayo College, Ajmere, Rajasthan, became the full-fledged king of Manipur and took over the charge of the commandant of the Battalion which started with smooth-bore muzzle loading guns followed by Tower Muskets and Martin-Henry single loading rifles as its weaponary.

The unit became reoriented into the 1st Battalion, Manipur Rifles in the year 1948 with Majtor Ganu Rana, a retired officer of the Indian Army as its first commandant under the keen initiative taken by the then Chief Minister of Manipur, Captain Maharaj Kumar Priyobarta Singh and Hill Minister, R Khating (Bob Khating) and it became equipped with the modern .303 rifles, LMGs, Grenade firing (GF) rifles etc at par with the Battalions of the Assam Rifles.

In the year 1958 Captain Lawrence Hope Hartnett who was the Officer Commanding of the Manipur NCC unit (Company) 'newly raise' by him was appointed as the new commandant of the battalion which, under the very able and showed command of the officer (previously serving in the 16th Bn of the Sikh regiment) had undergone thorough reororganisations and "reorientations" in every respect, particularly in the fitness of its performance for engaging the Naga hostiles insurgencies in the difficult hill areas of Manipur which escalated in quite alarming proportions from the adjoining areas of Nagaland from 1958 onwards, the Tamenglong areas in particular.

The dynamic commandant got the State Administration sanctioned two posts of gazetted officers of the rank of Assistant Commandants for the battalion for the first time in its history. The first two incumbent officers appointed as selected by the Union Public Service Commission in the 1960s were Sarvashri W Damodar Singh and Paocha Gangte followed by Sarvashri Lairenjam Jugeshwore Singh and Sanjembam Bimolchandra Singh in 1961/62 or the third post of Assistant Commandant of 1 MR and another post of DySP for the District Police sanctioned with a starting meagre Pay of Rs 200/- per month (starting pay of a commandant/SP at that time was Rs 600/- which was considered quite an attractive amount of pay).

to be continued...

* Waikhom Damodar Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Expres . This article was webcasted on December 27th, 2008.

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