TODAY -

Liberation War And Merger
- Part 1 -

Laishram Jugeshwor Singh *



Translated from Manipuri by Dr. Aheibam Koireng Singh, Manipur University

What is our viewpoint at the present? The liberation war, colonial subjugation under British rule and despotic rule of the monarch in the past decades of the discordant history falls vividly before us. History shows, events that happen 50 years before are perceived contradictorily at the present time. This is also unstoppable as it is brought about by the changes of time.

In addition to it, in a democratic state, many different thoughts come in to each generation. Such thoughts are unstoppable. It needs to be publicly debated and discussed. The rightness and wrongness of it could not be judged on the basis of my personal likes and dislikes. Its thinking should come in the way which is beneficial to the general public.

The dictatorship brought about by a complete 70 years of Moscow’s absolutist Communist regime along with the unfulfilling of the constitutional commitment for the welfare of the people and the worsening economy led to a disintegration of one time super power Soviet Russia and formation of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) by coming together different newly independent ethnic groups.

Now Russia had abandoned communism. It has become a democratic state and started giving attention to market reforms. It is an astonishing 70 years history of Russia. Though it cannot exactly be compared and perfectly matched, the circumstance is very much similar with our history- the difference is only a matter of bigness and smallness of the scale and size.

In our present generation, it would not be an exaggeration to say that those who emerges to spearhead and bear the responsibility of the state emerges mostly from among the youths. They must mostly be from among those who come under 50 years. That is why they need to properly investigate and search from the roots the incidents happened in that point of time. Let us all look together.

Khongjom war and different wars with Burma (Myanmar) have been fought. In both the cases, the people under the leadership of the king have fought the wars, first against the British Empire and second against the Burmese. The war that happened after that was the war to drive out the expansionist land-thirsty British Empire from the Indian subcontinent.

At that point of time, India was politically divided into two: 1). British India; and 2). Indian India, that is India which was directly ruled by British and another is India which is ruled by kings. Manipur is a state which is ruled by kings. The status was also lesser from other states as Manipur being a state which gave tribute to British government. State was ruled along with a political agent.

All the states, nevertheless, came under the British paramountcy irrespective of whether big or small. The people of Manipur were subjects under two different authorities – one for the Manipur Maharaja and another for the Political Agent. What the people of British India and Indian India wanted at that point of time was to bring the British power to an end from the whole of India.

It is because the whole of India being under British colonial subjugation, and furthermore subjected to bondage under kings was a great challenge to the people of India. The people of Manipur were also in this trend of thought. In connection with it, it can be remembered that the objective of the women’s war that happened in the year 1904 and that of 1939 were different.

The Women’s war of 1904 was waged against the British Empire by the people putting their life at stake to resist the colonization of Manipur. The Women’s war of 1939 on the other hand which was directed against the Maharaja who rule Manipur alongside with the British arose out of the famine like situation, atrocities in the name of religion, charging water tax without letting to drink water, imposing ‘mitseng santri’, ‘pothang (practice of forcing the people to carry the luggage of the touring officials)’, forced labour, artificial scarcity of rice and concomitant rise of human casualties.

At that point of time, a struggle to thwart and drive away the British was on the rise in every nook and corner of India including the states. The people and the states of India also began to suffer like the people in Manipur. At that point of time, the Indian National Congress under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi launched an intense struggle with a call demanding the British to quit India.

The people in the states who were not contented with the autocratic and despotic nature of the king also started having a preference of and started rising for democratic form of government having legislative assembly with elective representative. The Indian National Congress in British India and ‘Praja Mandal’ in states began to launch an intense struggle. The State’s People Conference was the conglomerate which encompasses the ‘Praja Dal’ of all the states with Dr. Sitaramiya as the President. Manipur Congress was also a branch of the Congress.

Now, let’s come back to Manipur again. It has also been mentioned above that there hadn’t been any political party as institution up till the year 1948. In the year 1934, a ‘sabha’ was organized under the patronage of Maharaja Churachand to come together the Manipuris settled in different parts of India and discuss on social, philosophical and religious matters.

The said sabha very much bore fruit. In it, among the youths who participated there were Pandit Lalita Madhav Sharma, Pandit Banka Bihari Sharma and Irabat who eventually became the leader of the masses. The said sabha was named Nikhil Manipuri Hindu Mahasabha. As it ought to be, the sabha was however short lived. The Swadeshi movement started gaining ground in India and states and increased suffering and wretchedness of the people alongside with the impetus by the Second World War to the Indian Congress which led to the situation of inevitably gaining Swaraj (independence).

Because of this reason, Nikhil Hindu Manipuri Mahasabha being sectarian organization, the step could no longer be slow paced under it. That is the reason why, under the leadership of Pandit Lalita Madhav Sharma, Pandit Banka Bihari Sharma and Irabat, the word ‘Hindu’ was dropped as desired by many of the youths in the 4th Session of the Mahasabha at Chingnga in the year 1938.

In this session, it became a political party with a name, Nikhil Manipuri Mahasabha which had a wider social base and encompasses all communities. The president of this new party was Hijam Irabat. From that day onwards, Manipur started having a political party.

This party desired to form a fully responsible legislative assembly the member of which were elected on the basis of adult franchise and a council of Minister responsible to the assembly with the position of the king as the Constitutional monarch. In a short spell, the Mahasabha became a branch of the Congress.

To be continued....


* Laishram Jugeshwor Singh wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer is Ex-Member of Parliament, Inner Manipur Parliamentary Constituency
Translated from Manipuri by Dr. Aheibam Koireng Singh, Manipur University who can be contacted at akoireng(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on October 19, 2017.


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