Government of India's past mistakes committed in the Merger of Manipur with the Domination of India
- Part 1

Waikhom Damodar Singh *

It is quite exhilarating to hear the "truth" at last from the former Union Home Secretary, Gopal Krishna Pillai saying that the thousands years old ancient kingdom of Manipur was forced to turn into a mere part "C" State of the Dominion of India "overnight", and that in the illegal process of "merger" that was carried out under "duress" the then Dominion Government of India had definitely made serious "mistakes", for which he very boldly made a call for the Prime Minister or the Home Minister of India to "apologise" for the past mistakes that had been so dictatorily made by the then "interim" Dominion Government of India violating grossly the "mandatory directives" of the British Government issued for strict compliance in regard to the merger of the Native States of the then British India.

Out of some 600 Native States, it was only Manipur which was placed as the "excluded area" and received special treatment, and in pursuance of the agreements entered into in between the British "crown" and the king of Manipur, Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh on 1st and 2nd July 1947, the Maharaja had enacted the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947 and adopted the Manipur State Administration Rules, 1947 and had paved the way for bringing-in a democratic Rule in the State.

The ex-Union Home Secretary also said that Manipur, unlike any of the Native States, had her own Constitution prepared and enacted in the year 1947 which was a very swift and wise step taken much ahead of the writing of the Constitutions of both the Dominions of India and Pakistan, and it was under the Constitution of the State so framed and enacted in 1947 that Manipur opened up the "democratic door" and had carried out her first General Election on "adult franchise" in June and July 1948 for 53 Assembly seats—
(1) 30 for general
(2) 18 for Hills
(3) 3 for Mohamadans
(4) 1 for Educational interest and
(5) 1 for commercial interest .

And the following MLAs were elected for the first Manipur State Legislative Assembly—
(1) Shri Khwairakpam Chaoba Singh, Koirengei constituency
(2) Shri Khongbantabam Ibetombi Singh, Khwai­Lalambung
(3) Wahengbam Tarpon Singh, Lamsang
(4) Khumanthem Gulap Singh, Patsoi
(5) Arambam Ibungotomcha Singh, Sagolband
(6) Elangbam Tompok Singh, Keishamthong
(7) Irom Merajatra Singh, Mayang Imphal, general
(8) Md Suleiman Mia, Mayang Imphal, Mohamadan
(9) Shri Sougaijam Somorendra Singh, Yaiskul
(10) Yumnam Megha Singh, Malom
(11) Ayekpam Angahal Singh, Nambol
(12) Khwairakpam Komlakanta Singh, Bishenpur
(13) Waikhom Nimaichand Singh, Yairipok, general
(14) Md Amjad Ali, Yairipok, Mohamadan
(15) Wahengbam Gorakishore Singh, Thanga-Kumbi
(16) Nongmaithem Toyaima Singh, Waikhong
(17) Thockchom Shyama Singh, Kakching
(18) Nongmaithem Iboton Singh, Wangoi
(19) Waikhom Mani Singh, Thoubal
(20) Mutum Ghono Singh, Khongjom
(21) Sorokhaibam Chourjit Singh, Sekmai
(22) Laishram Chandramani Singh, Wangjing
(23) Moirangthem Gourchand Singh, Irilbung
(24) Khwairakpam Giri Singh, Ningomthong
(25) Laishram Achou Singh, Wangkhei
(26) Md Alimuddin, Lilong, general
(27) Abdul Kddir Khan, Lilong, Mohamadan
(28) Dr Ningthoujam Leiren Singh, Khurai Lamlong
(29) Takhellambam Bokul Singh, Pangei
(30) Hijam Irawat Singh, Utlou
(31) Maimom Madhumangol Singh, Sawombung
(32) Sinam Bijoy Singh, Jiribam
(33) Mairembam Koireng Singh, Moirang, general
(34) Theba Killong, Moirang, Hill
(35) Chingapishak Singh, Education
(36) Ayekpam Gourabidhu Singh, commerce and industries
(37) Mono, Tengnoupal, part I
(38) Holpao, Tengnoupal part II
(39) Renengnao Khating, Sadar Hill
(40) Laying Hungyo, Phaisat
(41) Thisan Luikham, Ukhrul
(42) Miksha K. Shimaray, Chingjarol
(43) S.L.Lunneh, Tama (Saitu)
(44) Thaggoumang Sithlou, Tamenglong
(45) Buisbing Kabui, Langkhong
(46) TC Tiankham, Thlanship (Hanship)
(47) Taulchin, Senvawam Demzakbai, Churachandpur
(49) Kakaanggai Kabui, Langching Hill Mangpithang Kipgen, Mao part I
(51) Mao part II, vacant Rungsung Suisa, Tolloi Hill
(53) Dr L Kampu, Maite.

The Members of the First Manipur Assembly so elected were sworn in on 18 October 1948 at the Imphal Palace Darbar Hall. Their swearing was done by Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh in his name as he was the constitwtional Head of tbe State as per the definition of the Manipur State Constitution Act, 1947.

The Maharaja inaugurated the August Assembly with a very sincere and sentimental Proclamation read out on that most auspicious and historic occasion giving full emphasis of the great need to be taken up by the honourable Members for maintaining the "age-old harmonic relationship" rooted in between the peoples of the plain and the Hills.

Honourable Member Shri TC Tiankham was uninamously elected as the Honourable Speaker of the House as per provisions of the Constitution, chapter III, section 10 (e), the Maharaja, in consultation with the elected Ministers, appointed Maharajkumar Captain Priya Barta Singh as the Chief Minister of the first elected Government installed with the following MLAs elected as the Ministers of the Cabinet—
(1) Shri Arambam Ibungotomcha Singh, Finance
(2) Shri Ayekpam Gourabidhu Singh, Commerce and Industries
(3) Dr Ningthoujam Leiren Singh, Education and PWD
(4) Major Reneng­nao Khating, MBE, MC, Hill Affairs
(5) Mr Teba-Kilong, Forest and Agriculture
(6) Md Alimuddin, Jail and Medical.

The Assembly sittings used to take place in the central Hall of the present Imphal Raj Bhavan but later was shifted to the Assembly Hall of the Imphal Joanstone High School.

Thus, Manipur after freed from the yoke of the British Rule and unlike any of the Native States, began as an independent State, to run her own Political Affairs and Administration in a "democratic way" with a People's Government and Legisletaive Assembly established under her own Constitution and things began to carry on in the very right direction till the interim Government of the Dominion of India began very dictatorily to usurp and interefere in her affairs from 10 April 1949 onwards when they, all of a sudden, appointed one Major General Rawal Amar Singh of their choice as the Dewan of Manipur in place of Maharajkumar Priya Barta Singh and forced the State Government to carryon its administration under his general superintendence, guidance and control.

The high-handedness of the Dewan in usurping and interefering in the administration of the State could no more be tolerated by Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh as the Head of the State and so he left Imphal on 16 September 1949 in a convoy of one car and two vehicles by road for Shillong under his own security personnel of one section of the SMP (State Military Police) tp sort out his growing problems with Shri Prakasa, the Governor of Assam and his former guardian during his exile-sort of a stay in Benaras, Allahabad in 1934. The party arrived at Shillong on 17 September 1949 at about noon and stayed at the Manipurt Rajbari, Red Lands, in Laitumkhara, Shillong.

Instead of getting favours in sorting out the problems of the Maharaja, his journey taken most sincerely to Shillong became an "till-fated and doomed one" as he was most "treacherously" cornered at Shillong under the strict orders of Sardar Patel, the Home Minister of the Dominion of India and placed the Maharaja and his party under some sort of a House-arrest at the Red Lands.

The Government of India's strict instructions to the Governor of Assam was to ensure by all means that the Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh signed BR the Merger Agreement prepared by the Dominion Government of India (States Ministry alone) "ex-parte" by 20 September 1949, failing of which will result in the dethroning of the Maharaja from his kingship and also in the removal of Shri Prakasa from the Governorship.

In the afternoon of 18 September 1949 the Governor wrote to the Maharaja saying that be had received instructions from the States Ministry of tne Government of the Dominion of India and that the Merger issue of the "only Native State of Manipur left" should be decided by 29 September 1949 and before that the Maharaja and his party should not be allowed at all to depart from Shillong, even by resorting to the use of military force, to which the Maharaja replied very rightly to the Governor, in the evening of the same day of 18 September 1949 as—"Now, that the sovereignty of the State has been vested in the people, it would be in the fitness of things to hear people's voice and learn their sentiment so that the line of action may not, in any case, be unconstitutional".

The Government of India's firm stand of getting Manipur immediately merged anyhow with the Dominion of India was based on' the report of three points put up by the Manipur State Congress under "pseudo-patriotic spineless and self-interested" leaders to the Congress leaders of India which runs as—

(1) The incapacity of the Government of Manipur under the Maharaja to maintain Law and Order.

(2) The apprehension of spreading the activities of the communist revolution in Burma into Manipur led by Hijam Irawat Singh who went underground in Burma.

(3) The integration of Manipur into India would bring peace and development.

The above not very correct report of the minority State Congress party, whose adament determination taking the advantage of the Congress party coming into power in India was to anyhow dethrone the Maharaja Bodhchandra Singh and "abolish" the age-old deity Pakhangba's throne of Manipur, was very much against the Memorendum submitted earlier on 17 December 1948 by Shri Dhabalo Singh, the President of the Ruling party, the Praja Santi Sobha and its General Secretary, Shri Nongthogbam Ibomcha Singh which runs as — "Manipur is to remain as a State and autonomous unit enjoying responsible government with His Highness the Maharaja of Manipur as the Constitutional Head and her sovereignty undisturbed", as "almost cent per cent of the people, of the Hills in particular, of the State were quite "against integration or merger".

It may be quite relevant to make a mention here of what Lt Colonel (retired) H Bhuban Singh said in his recent article, "When Manipur Disintegrates, India may Disintigrate", he said that "Congress Party is enemy of Manipur" - is not at all uncorrect. He further said very correctly that in 1972 Rishang Keishing after getting defeated in the State Assembly Election formed his own party known as UNIC (United Naga Integration Council) and signed an agreement for merger of his party into Congress (Indira). In that agreement signed by Sheel Bhadra Yajee and Hemam Nilamani Singh of Moirang, Manipur representing Congress (Indira) with Rishang Keishing, it was stated that "land areas of Manipur, Arunachal and Assam should be merged into Nagaland".

To be continued...

* Waikhom Damodar Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer teaches at Department of Geography, Oriental College, Imphal
This article was posted on November 09, 2011.

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