Manipur's lost legacy - Merger Agreement
- Part 1 -

Dr Th Suresh Singh *

70 years ago (i.e. 21st Sept. 1949) was the day Bodh Chandra Maharaj signed the Manipur Merger Agreement with the Dominion of India. Before coming to the nitty gritty of the Merger Agreement, let me put Manipur's true historical perspective before the merger. It is unfortunate that almost all of our historians, educationists and intellectuals are still not aware of where Manipur stands before the Merger. It is because we are not accustomed to the in-depth research and inability to grapes finer points of our inimitable history.

Hence, let me put straight the following :

1. Many historians and scholars, while referring to various published and unpublished Puyas and other traditional sources, described the reign of various kings/principalities from around 3000-2500 BC in Manipur. It is also a fact that various kings and chieftains ruled in different parts of the present day Manipur and there was no centralised king around the present day Kangla at that time. Those periods were known as Hangkok era and it is clearly mentioned that 108 chiefs reigned in 4 different Hangkok eras. Record of reigns of another 111 chiefs in Chak era was also mentioned.

2. With the event of Pakhangba around 33AD at historical Kangla fort, consolidation of the present day Manipur started slowly and steadily. The subjugation of hill areas started in 1195 AD with the raid on Chingshong hills by king Thawanthaba( and not with raids on the Marings in 1302 as quoted by various authors). It must have started even in 518-65AD during king Sameirong's reign if recent discovery of a stone inscription in Khoibu Maring village is to be believed.

3. In respect of valley, the Ningthouja clan who ruled in Kangla subdued the other 6 clans. It started around 4th century by king Naokhomba and ended with conquest of Moirang principality by king Ningthoukhomba around mid-14th century.

4. In the beginning, the relationship between hill people and Meitei king were as subjects or allies. Later on, by sheer military might, the hills were brought under subjugation to Meitei kings who ruled at Kangla.

5. The 1st official Manipur-British relationship started with the signing of 1st defence cum trade treaty on 4th September 1762 between Maharaja Jai Singh and the British. It became more and more formalised during Gambhir Singh's reign with the establishment of Gambhir Singh Levy in April 1824 after 7 year devastation of 1819-25. Gambhir was forced to do so to save Manipur from Burmese York.

The Agreement Regarding the Kubo Valley-1834(9thJan.) and Agreement regarding Compensation For the Kubo Valley-1834(25thJan.) during Gambhir's reign led to temporary handing over of Kabaw Valley to Burma and is another topic left for another article. However it is clear that British interfered more and more in respect of defence and external affairs of Manipur. The same arrangement continued up-to Nara Singh's reign with no interference in internal affairs.

6. The situation changed dramatically during Chandrakirti's period with the British declaring Manipur as a British Protectorate state and as an Asiatic Power in Alliance with the Queen in 1851 with certain condition imposed to the weak king who was facing 10 times rebellion during his 1st 16 years of reign. The declaration was, however, unilateral from British side. Thus the 1st real interference in Manipur's internal affairs started during Chandrakirti's reign.

7. The situation further changed with the British conquest of Kangla fort on 27th April 1891 after Khongjom war. The British, however, after thorough discussion in their parliament, British India and other fora, did not annex Manipur after the Anglo-Manipuri war. This is proved by British India's resolution of Manipur dt. 21st August 1891 where it stated "... had graciously assented to the re-establishment of the native rule under such condition...". Hence, Churachand remained as native king (i.e. as princely state just like others in other parts of India) and the same is continued during his son Bodh Chandra's reign till merged to India on 15th October 1949.

8. Though I will not be discussing nitty gritty of what is a protectorate state, various treaties and other alliances the British Empire had with various countries (these are kept for future articles/books), it is clear that Manipur remained a vibrant, independent princely state except defence, external affairs and communication. No doubt, there was some unwanted interference in internal autonomy from British India here and there. The interference was less during Chandrakirti time and maximum during Churachand's reign. Bodh Chandra, with all his faults, withstood various pressures from British Assam Governors stationed at Shillong till merged. History is proof that there was no interference up-to Narasingh's reign.

9. We should also be clear that there was no British rule post Anglo-Manipuri war as cited in above. British Presence, however, increased after the Anglo-Manipuri war due to fear of more resistance from the Manipuris. Divide and rule policy among the hills and the valley was one such concrete example. When the British left Manipur on 15th August 1947, the British handed over their Paramountcy power to the Indian Dominion. Hence, the Governor stationed at Shillong during British Paramouncy, continued to exercise the same power after they left, under the Dominion of India.

In Indian context, Paramountcy is the British Power where native states were bound to it by various Treaties, Engagements and Sanads. Out of 600 native states, 40 had Treaties, Manipur was one such. The remaining states had Engagements and Sanads. However British also gave a no. of Sanads to the Manipuri kings. The same is true in respect of many other countries/states/regions/autonomic regions of the world with British Paramountcy.

10. Reign of Both Chandra is an interesting one with various ups and downs. Future historians should minutely scrutinise his period with praise whatever due and criticism whenever due. With all his eccentric character, the king resisted many wishes from the Assam Governors who also happen to be his close friends. One such example is the appointment of Dewan (Prime Minister) of Priyabrata. Governor Sir Akbar Hydary wanted to abolish Dominion Agent and establish the office of the Dewan.

Initially the Maharaja objected, but after repeated assurance from the Governor, he agreed. Accordingly, on 20th August 1948, Governor Hydary dissolved the office of the dominion Agent and installed the office of the Dewan. Subsequent to that, vide Palace order no 46 p.11dt.29th November 1948, the Maharaja appointed Priya Brata as Dewan in addition to the post of Chief Minister. Maharaja's closeness to the Governor can be seen from the fact that, though he was a muslim, Sir Akber Hydary was buried at Kangla where it is still preserved.

11. Unknown historical facts before merger : With the inevitable British departure looming large on Manipur's political horizon following British PM Attlee's announcement and subsequent enactment of Indian independence Bill, which was given Royal assent on 18th July 1947, unknown historical facts emerged then were

i) Manipur was 1 among the 3 states which had Prime Minister, the other 2 being Hydrabad and Kashmir. Perhaps , Governor Hydary was preparing to give more autonomy to Manipur after merger, something like present Bhutan, i.e. Defence, Foreign Affairs & Communication assigned to Dominion India. The idea died with the premature death of the Governor in early 1949. It is also a fact that Governor Hydary loved Manipur so much and visited the state frequently. None of us knew that Manipur had a Prime Minister and its office which is a higher one then a Chief Minister.

ii) Agreement with Governor Hydary : The Manipur Darbar led by Pria Brata entered into a Point of Agreement with the Governor on 29th June 1947. It was agreed to maintain Manipur's status quo i.e. defence, foreign relation & communication along with trade with Indian Union while maintaining internal autonomy of Manipur prevailing then. It was further agreed to take up further compensation of Kabaw Valley

iii) Holding of the 1st election under Manipur constitution act of 1948 on 11/06- 27/07 of 1948 for 53 members. The Assembly was inaugurated by Maharaja both Chandra on 18/10/1948 with the swearing of a council of 7 ministers with Pria Brata as 1st Chief Minister and T.C. Tiankham as 1st Speaker at Darbar hall. The election was based on adult franchise and the 1st one in Indian sub-continental history.

iv) British never occupied/ruled Manipur. It remained a vibrant, independent native state with defence, foreign relation & communication under British as explained in sl.nos.7, 8 & 9 . Hence reference by many historians, educationist & intellectuals to British occupation of Manipur after Kangla occupation is a misnomer and shows lack of historical in-depth knowledge. I often wonder where Manipuri historians stand in respect of many finer points of our history. What I am trying to emphasis is that British never ruled in Manipur, often repeated word of 'British Ruled Period' be referred to as 'British Stayed Period' i.e. more British stayed in Manipur.

v) Instrument of Accession and Standstill Agreement : It was executed on 11th August 1947. Here again, many historians and scholars expressed the view that once the 2 were signed, Manipur automatically became a part of India. What a poor and ill-formed view. It just can be countered by the signing of the Merger Agreement on a later date. Why signing of Merger Agreement if the 2 were enough for integration to India? In that political scenario, Merger Agreement was a must for many complicated states like Manipur and because of this, 20 native states signed the same.

(To be continued)

* Dr Th Suresh Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Ex-Director, Health & WHO Fellow
This article was webcasted on October 07 2019.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • 123rd Lamyanba Irabot #3 : Gallery
  • May all the roads lead to Ukhrul ..
  • AMAND Cultural @Pune #2 : Gallery
  • Naga Flag & Constitution is our Identity
  • Global Handwashing Day
  • Gwangju Prize for Human Rights: Nominate
  • German program for women entrepreneurs
  • Raising the integration bogey, again
  • October 15 and the GoI
  • NTC calls for solution within scheduled time
  • Naga peace talks deadlocked
  • Pot Lannaba : Houchongba #1: Gallery
  • IM & Govt against freedom fighters
  • Wijaidin Pamai @Intl Fashion Week Goa
  • SheChef Season 2, Shirui Lily Festival 2019
  • Crazy for the hole :: Poem
  • Intl Classical Manipuri Dance Festival
  • Putting a check on single use plastic
  • Harvesting the green gold
  • Mera Houchongba @Kangla #1: Gallery
  • Mera Houchongba festival
  • Intl Day for Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Understanding JAM for bright career
  • For you, I gave up everything : Poem
  • Paranoia of Beauty: A Corporate Brainwash
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Opening NE to outside world: Challenges ..
  • Contested Identity Along Myanmar Border
  • NNPGs mandated for solution: Isak
  • Wont walk path of capitulated peace: IM
  • 3-month deadline ..unacceptable: Hoho
  • Manipur Street in Manchester & Shirui Lily
  • A glimpse of Shirui Flower : Gallery
  • World within a World
  • Face of RaDiant Group
  • For the Common People :: Poem
  • Heart Camp at Senapati District Hospital
  • NDPP is 'verba non facta' : NPF
  • Swindling of Public Money
  • Bor khoiramba @Hiyangthang #2 : Gallery
  • Lansinganglu, Ahinglang : eMing
  • World Tourism Day @Noney #3 : Gallery
  • World Mental Health Awareness Week 2019
  • Manipur lost legacy- Merger Agreement #2
  • My aquamarine :: Poem
  • Rice for beauty
  • Stand off over flag and constitution
  • Suicide - Western docs, Psychologists...
  • Naga wont accept alien doc. as constitution
  • Manipuri Calendar 2020 :: Download
  • AMAND Cultural @Pune #1 : Gallery
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • NE Message of Cleaninness at Delhi
  • Research Support Officer @ Amethyst
  • 8th AGM/Annual Cultural of AMAND, Pune
  • Peace & conflicts studies as a career
  • College student leaders learn leadership
  • Reaffirming stand of 2016 unity
  • Mr. Chief Minister, clean the dirt...
  • Nongdol Leima @ JNMDA #2 : Gallery
  • Haloi Taret: Dangerous Beauty....
  • Difficult days ahead for Muivah
  • Manipur from Independence to Merger #3
  • World Mental Health Day, 2019
  • Traditional DJ
  • Cry of a Dying River - 96 :: Poem
  • ..district to State level : Shirui Lily Festival
  • Something is still not right
  • Chothe Achui Lin festival #2
  • Heritage Park @Sangai Fest #3: Gallery
  • Are we being bullied with same fake news?
  • Hard facts about the betrail
  • World Animal Day 2019
  • Academic Entrepreneurship at MU #2
  • Nagas of Nagaland : Drawing the divide
  • ... Manipur needs strategic change
  • World Tourism Day @Noney #2 : Gallery
  • ST status is to save indigenous community
  • Sangai festival and tourism multiplier
  • Governance, Gender & Environment :: Book
  • Now Your Hair :: Poem
  • Neiphiu Rio's myopic belief on ILP : NPF
  • Probe into maladministration of hospital
  • Taking high moral stand: Begone moral cop
  • Bor khoiramba @Hiyangthang #1 : Gallery
  • Manipur lost legacy- Merger Agreement #1
  • Sikkim Dance @Sangai Fest: Gallery
  • World Habitat Day: A celebration for home
  • For Your Eyes Only :: Poem
  • No School bag day in Manipur
  • Making ban on single use plastic effective
  • New CAB clause to protect NE : HM
  • NNPGs ready to conclude talks: Kitovi
  • 123rd Lamyanba Irabot #2 : Gallery
  • Ngangom Chaoba : Natyabhusan
  • Ganja economics, Jai Bholenath !
  • Soul Sister :: Poem
  • Leap of faith on wings of Prayer
  • Counselling: Children in Conflict with Law
  • Caution for the cocksure
  • CAB Protest @Khwairamband : Gallery
  • Manipuri Women & Crime Against them
  • Toward exploring a better future for youth
  • I happily cry :: Poem
  • NE Students' Culturals at Pondicherry
  • Beauty benefits of banana
  • Heart Camp at District Hospital, Chandel
  • Contained but final word yet to be said
  • Smart idea, bumbling idealists
  • Chingda Satpi Engellei #2 :: eRang
  • Facts & Opinions: Integration of Naga Area
  • Licypriya : Earth Day Network 'Rising Star'
  • Cry of a Dying River - 95 :: Poem
  • Khangminashi - V at Ibotonsana Hr Sec
  • Academic Entrepreneurship at MU #1
  • Vote BJP but protest: CAB Indecisive stand
  • Significance of Manipuri proverbs
  • Hathei Phanit (Chilli) #2: Gallery
  • Naga insurgency & peace condition #2
  • World River Day, 2019
  • Half Brother :: Poem
  • Youth Essay Contest: May 18 Memorial
  • Michelle Salam : Top Ten Cake Masters
  • Internal tussle within the Government
  • The humility of MK Gandhi & Manipur
  • Bhagyachandra Death Anniv @WB : Gallery
  • Why dont Manipur forget Merger Agreement
  • Let us celebrate Non Violence Day
  • Looking Forward to a Sexy Evening : Poem
  • Observance of Senior Citizen's Day
  • Turmeric in beauty care
  • Artists for NH7 Weekender, Meghalaya
  • Parking madness at commercial centres
  • Demise of a dream
  • 123rd Lamyanba Irabot #1 : Gallery
  • International Day Of Older Persons, 1 Oct
  • Licypriya : India Peace Prize : Gallery
  • Irabot the poet of the working class
  • October Calendar for Year 2019 : Tools
  • Licypriya Kangujam : India Peace Prize 2019
  • ST status demand for Meiteis widening rift
  • Certificate Course on Neuropsychology
  • Lining up stand against CAB
  • Remembering Lamyanba & his politics
  • Irabot Day & the practice of volunteerism
  • Lamyanba Hijam Irawat :: Read articles
  • Around India in 60 days
  • Nungleiband Massacre: Diary of Editor
  • Judo: Rishikanta, Roshibina, Kalpana
  • Heart of an empowering woman : Poem
  • Imphal Peace Museum: Best Design Award
  • Engaging with the young minds
  • Lai Khutsangbi & female power
  • Naga liberty or forced disintegration..
  • Irabot's letter to Assembly: 18 Oct 1948
  • Monika Ingudam: Natl Youth Icon Award
  • Heart Camp at District Hospital, Ukhrul
  • Swacchata Hi Seva at Lakoipat
  • Let 'tree' that was cut, be the last
  • World Tourism Day @Noney #1 : Gallery
  • Where All The Flowers Gone? #2: Gallery
  • The resurgence of Hijam Irabot
  • Naga insurgency & peace condition #1
  • World Heart Day 2019
  • Judo: L Sushila; M Bidyashori, T Inunganbi
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Counselling: Children in Conflict with Law
  • Looking to increase revenue collection
  • Adapting with the changing time
  • Inamma - Film Scenes #1 :: eRang
  • Heritage Park @Sangai Fest #2: Gallery
  • Cry of a Dying River - 94 :: Poem
  • Reject false solutions to climate crisis
  • Career in Mass Communication
  • Ideals of Lamyanba Irawat
  • Laurels for Th Brinda, Ng Touthang
  • Performances to watch at NH7 Weekender
  • Protest in NE against CAB starting Oct 3
  • Bamboo bus shelter model developed
  • Noney to host World Tourism Day
  • Drought and the drainage issues
  • Marangwon @Kangkhui Khullen: Gallery
  • The flavor of Utsav Tarpon
  • Urgent Need to Reconsider Naga History
  • A woman :: Poem
  • Human Papilloma Virus & women's health
  • Meeting the Enemy at Nathu La
  • 'Outburst' of Thuingaleng Muivah
  • Concerns for media persons
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Haraoba #5 : Gallery
  • Licypriya Climate March @Angola :Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #4: Gallery
  • Licypriya Climate March at Luanda :: Report
  • Workshop on Science Writing
  • Nurabi, nominated at Rio WebFest
  • Manipur retain Senior Women's NFC title
  • Robert Naorem : Best Intl Fashion Designer
  • Process of updating electoral roll
  • Ban on plastic use
  • Kartal Cholom @ Sangai Fest : Gallery
  • Reflection on Tolstoy, Irawat & Dr. Kamal
  • Local solution, local action for #GlobalGoals
  • In You I Find My Sunset :: Poem
  • ... denying rights in actual practice
  • Landslide: Are Mitigation measures effective
  • Emotional Intelligence: Yardstick for life skill
  • eNabling North East Award 2019
  • The debate over legalising ganja
  • The new MVA; how serious is the govt ?
  • Chothe Achui Lin festival #1
  • Lady E-Rickshaw driver inspires women..
  • M Shanker: Indian Achievers Award 2019
  • Softly Coo the Wild Pigeons :: Poem
  • Discussion on Manipur Merger Agreement
  • Irabot, one & only leader of oppressed mass
  • Start-up Manipur as a potential launch pad
  • Culture Students Foundation Day : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Territorial Integration, Flag or Constitution
  • Book published on Irabot Day: Download
  • In love with the night :: Poem
  • Maverick mind of Ram - Dedicated to Bar
  • Smoking- silent killer for your backbone
  • Revisiting Sept. 21 (1948 & 1949)
  • Where All The Flowers Gone? #1: Gallery
  • BCIM Corridor & China New Transportation
  • Alzheimer's Awareness Month
  • Cry of a Dying River - 93 :: Poem
  • Rally & Youth's Voice on Climate Change
  • Guwahati to Bangkok : Direct Flight
  • Stringent traffic rules in place
  • Time for immediate solution to climate crisis
  • Traditional Dress of Hmar : Gallery
  • Licypriya @UNESCO Forum, Angola: Gallery
  • World Ozone Day and Langban Tarpan
  • Protection of Land in Tamenglong: Meeting
  • Licypriya Kangujam at UNESCO : Report
  • 46th AMWJU Foundation Day : Gallery
  • Heikru Hidongba #2 : Gallery
  • 48th Foundation Day of RIMS : Gallery
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #4: Gallery
  • Mukna - indigenous game : Gallery
  • Hiyang Tanaba @Lamlai #1: Gallery
  • Babysana's last rites performed: Gallery
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download