TODAY -

Liberation War And Merger
- Part 2 -

Laishram Jugeshwor Singh *



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

In the year 1939, following the hoarding and export of rice by the mill owners in nexus with the king’s government, there was a severe shortage of rice in Manipur. Because of all these reasons, Women in large numbers agitated intensely to immediately ban the export of rice. In the said agitation, women agitators battled with the Assam Rifles and eight women were consequently inflicted with bayonet injury.

Hijam Irabat, after defecting from the Maha Sabha formed the ‘Praja Sammelani’ and led the agitation to a better well organized political movement of mass civil disobedience under his leadership.

After that Irabat joined the Communist Party. From that onwards, Irabat distanced himself from the Mahasbha, that is, the Congress. The war waged by the Communist Party of India was against the British imperialism and capitalist power. So, the gaining of India’s independence was not their immediate end.

Eventually after Britain and America joined hands with Russia to fight the war against the Axis power, Communist Party of India also sided with the British. Irabat also because of that reason took side of the British. So, Irabat and his supporters did not join the Indian National Army.

In the meantime, a political party named Manipur State Congress Party was formed at the venue of Aryan Hall in the year 1945 by coming together all the political parties in Manipur. However, Irabat and his newly formed Manipur Krishak Sabha were not a part of that newly formed party. Irabat went underground after the Pungdongbam incident in the year 1948.

Just ahead of it, in the same year, Irabat contested successfully for the State assembly from the Nambol Constituency as a candidate of Kishan Congress. Irabat and his party’s stand on Merger could not be known as he went underground. Like the political parties playing its crucial role in the agitation for legislative assembly, the role concerning merger was only between the government of India and the king.

Why, because the said agreement had to be signed by the government of India with the king and not with the people’s representatives. In connection with it, it is worthwhile to recollect that when the issue of Merger was introduced to the Maharaja of Mayurbhunz, the Maharaja stated that he already had handed over the administration to the people, and therefore correspondingly asked the Government of India to talk and come to terms with the Legislative assembly and Minstry.

If viewed from the perspective of constitutional position, this stated stand seems very proper and correct. However, it could not be known whether there was talk or not. But merger eventually took place. Similar such stand of the Maharaja of Mayurbhunz could not be seen from the part of the Maharaja of Manipur.

The issue of Merger arose to more than 600 states of India. It’s never been without disagreement at one point or the other. Let us also remember that according to the Mountbatten plan, ‘Standstill Agreement’ was correspondingly signed. That merger had already casted a spell of defacto merger.

It is an already discussed issue mutually by the Chamber of princes, interim government of India and the British government. British Government had said – British government would surely leave India, but nonetheless want to handover to single sovereignty of one unified India. It otherwise had to handover one sovereignty to Chamber of Princes, and another sovereignty to British India.

The thinking of those who had control over the administration during that time was that it is not possible to have two sovereignty considering the geopolitical and geophysical position of India, and taking into account the defence, foreign affairs and communication matters of India. Another matter is there was no referendum on merger, that is, it didn’t wait for the public opinion.

When Maharaja Bodhchandra refused to sign the merger, Governor Shri Prakash had sent an urgent telegraph to Sadar Vallabhai Patel seeking his advice. At this Sadar Patel had made his intention known to her daughter, “ who is the Brigradier in Shillong at the moment. This telegraphed question reached the Assam Governor.

When the Governor sought clarification from Manben Patel on this matter, Manben Patel, replied in this manner – the said telegraph was CRISP REPLY, and, did not continue any longer. Likewise, Sadar Patel sending much confidence and laden telegraph indicated that the CHAMBER OF PRINCES would not interfere in the scheme of things that he intended to carry out.

Concluded...


* 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 22, 2017.


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