TODAY -

Story of Manipur from Independence to Merger
The dream remains a dream
- Part 1 -

Shantikumar Moirangthem *



Exactly, when the clock struck midnight, a lanky British officer stood up and announced to Maharajah Bodhchandra Singh of Manipur, "Your Highness, from this moment, Britain has ceased to have any authority in India. Goodbye". He was Mr Jerald Pakenham Steward, the last Political Agent of British India in Manipur.

It was the intervening night of August 14 – 15 of 1947, during the transfer of power ceremony at the British Residence at Imphal (now Raj Bhavan). They shook hands. Seconds later, Stewart stood up again to announce, "Good morning, your highness. I am the first Dominion Agent of India". The incident marked the beginning of an exact 26 months' turbulent reign of Maharajah Bodh Chandhra, also known as "Bubble" because of his short reign (Down the Memory Lane—M.K.Priyobrata), till Manipur finally merged with Indian Union on another 15th day in October 1949.

From 1947 to 1949 - in Manipur, events moved superfast: Independence from Britain, Interim Government, Enactment of the Constitution of the Sovereign State of Manipur, 1st Election of independent Manipur and then, the merger with the Dominion of India. These events which could be landmarks in the history of a nation were squeezed within a period of 791 days.

One day, in December, 1946 a group of Manipuri students gathered at Calcutta. They were on their way to participate in the All India Students' Congress session, Delhi. The delegates were H. Ranbir, L. Achou, Chandrakumar Sharma from Manipur; E.Yaima, R.K.Jhalajit, R.K. Sanahal and Phanjoubam Gourahari from Calcutta. They boarded Kalka mail, reached Delhi and participated in the All India Student Congress Session - 31 months before Manipur joins the Indian Dominion.

Were the Manipuri students a little over-enthusiastic to join the Indian Dominion or did they anticipate the merger with India?With independence knocking at the door, they witnessed the difference of opinion in the Indian National Congress as regards the India-Pakistan controversy and the status of India during independence and after. After they returned back to their respective places, the Manipuri students were hounded by the uncertain condition of their small kingdom which they dearly loved: they discussed the issues heatedly.

Some raised the issue of unviability of a stand-alone Manipur and wanted to join Assam and others preferred the creation of (1) "Purbachal" with Tripura, Cachar, and Lushai Hills or (2) a "Frontier Hill State" with Naga Hills and Lushai Hills. Some others with communist leaning preferred merger with Burma. It was a very critical question, which would have far reaching consequences in the history of Manipur which their young mind - brilliant but without experience - had to work out.

Time waits for none. It was 1947: the summer was over and autumn rolled in. The dateline set by British cabinet's decision to let the British Empire lapse had arrived. Prepared or not, the British decided to leave Manipur. Mr Pearson, the PMSD was really concerned when he called on Captain MK Priyobrata at the latter's place of posting at Shillong and said " Things are moving very fast and you should take over". M.K. Priyobrata reported at his Imphal office on 6th August, 1947.

The gradual transformation of the ancient principality of Manipur, during a period of a century since the days of "Seven Years' Devastation", from an independent medieval feudal state to a modern political entity under Indian Union, had taken several twists and turns. The antiquated "sword and Arambai" based Meitei battle craft had taken a drubbing from Bagyidaw's firearm-equipped Burmese army, to be redressed only when the Manipur Levy was armed with modern equipment by the friendly colonial British who were equally on war with the Burmese.

The resultant Anglo-Burmese Treaty of Yandaboo in 1826, guaranteed an Independent Manipur state. Now, a system of agreements, treaties and sanads had become a necessity for the survival of a state. As a corollary, the literacy of the people too had become a yardstick for measuring the status of a modern state. Though an informal education with an indigenous script had been in existence since the 13th century and gainfully used in keeping records like Cheitharol Kumbaba, a sustainable formal education only started as late as 1885 when the then Political Agent Sir James Johnstone founded the eponymous school at the Residence.

Illiteracy was a curse in the state, so much so that in 1907 when Maharaj Churachand came of age and ready to take the reign of government of Manipur, "the entire administrative staff for the conduct of Government under the new regime had to be imported from India".

This scourge of illiteracy remained a bane of the people of Manipur even after the merger of the state to India. No sooner had they signed the historic Merger Agreement, than Manipur, the sovereign principality with centuries of unique history, was ignominiously dumped as a centrally administered Part C state without any provision for a representative government.

In response to peoples' continuous agitation for a responsible Legislative Assembly, the Home Minister replied on the floor of the Parliament on 22nd November, 1954 that "the time was not ripe for the creation of" Legislative Assembly in Manipur and that - "the people are still comparatively politically backward and the administrative machinery is still weak (India after Gandhi: Ramchandra Guha). "

On the eve of merger, Manipur was on a take-off stage to modernisation. When the foundation was laid by a decent beginning in western education at the fag end of 19th century and further exposed to the wartime ambiance during the 2nd World War, Manipur was ready for a rationalised march into the 20th century. In the turn of the Century, countries across the world had given highest priority to road improvement in the wake of mass production of automobiles in Europe and America.

The Chingnga road at Imphal between the hillocks were constructed by excavating the ridge in 1892. Segalambi (Segaroad) starting from Nityaibat through a bridge over the Nambul river was also completed. The condition was further improved with the opening of Imphal Dimapur Road in 1897. Later, Geoffrey, the State Engineer, laid WBM at Uripok road up to Eroisemba.

Before Geoffrey, it was paved with bricks up to Eroisemba only, beyond which it was all muddy road overspread with straw-bundles during wet season to facilitate bullock cart movement. Bullock cart came to Manipur for the first time from Assam in 1896 to transport military logistics. Locally known as "San Gari", it had come to stay as the most popular form of transport in Manipur with increasing popularity as a means of mass transport; and it became a lucrative enterprise when profitably used for export of local rice outside the state.

The colonial administration encouraged rice export as the most convenient resource for revenue collection. In the colonial and the immediate post-colonial period "San-Gari" industry flourished in Manipur. After sometime, enterprising Marwari families started regular Lorry services between Imphal and Dimapur.

In the earlier days before 1929-30, as the state did not have any metric examination centre, the students had to ride Lorries to give examination at the centres outside the states like Gauhati, Shillong and Syllet. They had to make similar journeys for post matric studies as no institution was available for further study in Manipur after metric till the opening of D.M. College in 1946.

Speed of mobility was tremendously increased as the motor vehicle could cover the distance of 211 km in Imphal-Dimapur stretch in a day whereas the travel by Bullock cart almost took a month to cover the same distance. In 1941, my father paid half-a-rupee to a lorry driver to reach Dimapur from Imphal on his way to Jorhat for the post metric study.

Churachand Maharajah, some of his family members, a few British officers including Mr Blackie and other well-to-do families possessed personal vehicles. One Hijam Tomba's Imphal to Sugnu passenger service was the only bus service running in the state before the war.

To be continued...


* Shantikumar Moirangthem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a retd IPS
This article was first published on 11 Oct 2018 in the Souvenir, 94th Birth Anniversary of RK Maipaksana
This article was posted on 03 November, 2018 .


* 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 e-pao.net. 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.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Sangai Day 5: Fashion parade :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Thangal Dance :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 26 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Masterclasses add value to 53rd IFFI at Goa
  • 7th Charuangc 2022 : Rongmei of Delhi-NCR
  • Miss India from Manipur
  • Startup Innovation Conclave 1.0
  • National Constitution Day at Lilong
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Sangai Day 4: 3 Types Of Drums :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 3: Chothe Dance :: Gallery
  • Involuntary Displacement in Manipur
  • Forgotten feature Film comes alive at IFFI
  • Will we protect medicines that protect us
  • God gives us our daily bread...
  • NPF consultative meeting at Zunheboto
  • Lapses in education laid bare by student
  • Adding a new flavour to War on Drugs
  • Sangai Day 3: Polo International :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Tangkhul Dance :: Gallery
  • 1st L. Keivom Memorial Day
  • Eina Khankhiba Natte : Movie Review
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Eight Meet of Astronomers concluded at MU
  • 'Manipuri films projecting Manipuri culture'
  • Condemn govts of Assam & Meghalaya
  • Corruption-free Manipur resolve under scrutiny
  • Asia at the World Cup
  • Sangai Day 2: Khutpak Chatkoi #1 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 2: Tarao Dance :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Screening of Manipuri films at IFFI
  • Nagaland Govt has no economic policy: NPF
  • Organic seed production- Issue & strategy #2
  • Reinvent Northeast - Dimapur launched
  • Uneasy calm in northeast as border rows rage
  • FIFAWC and Sangai Festival : Splendid recipe
  • Ningol Chakkouba @ Pune :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Ningol Chakouba organized at Pune
  • Free mega health camp at Nagamapal
  • Outlaw glyphosate and its derivatives
  • Creators Meet of Tripura at Agartala
  • No respite from drug and tobacco threats
  • Manipur: Fountainhead of drugs ?
  • Sangai Day 1: Laihui Folk Music #1 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Day 1: Opening ceremony :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Copa Manipur at Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • South Asia's film market features Manipur
  • ST Demand: Decided by merits; not by poll
  • Ecotoxicology- needed to save living beings
  • 'Look East policy into Act East Policy'
  • Tourism promotional fest litmus test for state
  • Sangai & Pony, the twin face of Manipur
  • Tarpon Chaklen Katpa #2 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival 2022 :: Activities List
  • The Dream Kangleipak :: Book Review
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • 53rd IFFI featuring Manipuri Cinema kicks off
  • World Toilet Day 2022
  • Pulicat Lagoon, Flamingos' haven
  • Amid substance abuse, thrust on open gym
  • FIFA World Cup 2022
  • 1st CM's Sagol Kangjei C'ship :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Sangai Fest as a way to Look East Policy
  • 1st Chief Minister's Sagol Kangjei C'ship
  • Organic seed production- Issue & strategy #1
  • For PM Modi, G20 has come at the right time
  • Rock band Arogya releases latest single
  • Community Ningol Chakouba #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Out of the heart comes the issues of life
  • NE Startup Showcase @ Manipur Tech Hub
  • Immortal Gallows :: Poem
  • Workshop on Amrita Meditation at RGU ArP
  • Skin Pigmentation in Winter
  • Influx issue headache for all indigenes
  • Wanted: Visionary leaders :: Follies of past
  • The changing idioms of Manipuri theatre
  • COVID-19 Status 17 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • DFC Shillong launched with Model workshop
  • Antimicrobial resistance... to reverse progress
  • 2nd North East Olympic Games closes
  • Unending quota system & National excellence
  • Solar energy can help India achieve net-zero
  • Sangai Festival as launch pad for tourism
  • All eyes on Qatar
  • Manipur Journalist Awards #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Delegates for IFFI, Goa
  • Intellectual Class- First Line of Defense
  • Who are ST in true spirit of Constitution
  • Journalism is a public good ...
  • Vaccine transported through Drones in ArP
  • Mass tree felling depreciates existence...
  • ST demand : Let Delhi have the say
  • 5th Kwatha Festival #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • This Eleventh Edition of Sangai Festival
  • The garden of Kew #2
  • NE International Fashion Week 2022
  • Housing system for sow & piglets
  • Doctors grieving relentlessly, Govt silent
  • Law catching up after 21 years
  • Leima Jagoi @ Nongshaba #1 :: Gallery
  • Manipur Technology innovation Hub
  • North East BJP Karyakartas Sammelan
  • Supreme Court call for revisit of reservation
  • Rural Immersion Camp at West Kameng
  • World Diabetes Day 2022
  • Undeserving PDS rice beneficiaries
  • Leaving the doors wide open
  • On author, research & publication #3
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • MSAD : newly elected executives for 2022-23
  • 'Trust deficit' in Naga talks
  • Professor Bimola : A Life Fully Lived
  • Love's Twist :: Poem
  • Rani Gaidinliu Training Camp concluded
  • Job for all promise as unemployed rises
  • Presenting Manipur to the world
  • Manipur Fashion Extravaganza #3 :: Gallery
  • Seminar on Role of Women in Sports : Report
  • The great Asian Highway : Tokyo to Istanbul
  • Seminar : Reconstruction of Education
  • 4th National Lok Adalat for the year, 2022
  • Rishi Sunak .. is a pucca English Burra sahib
  • Ningol Chakkouba : Gift presents :: Gallery
  • Conference on Metallomics @ Manipur Univ
  • An awakening sprout in darkness :: Poem
  • Narration from a man who chase mountains
  • Jobs @ JCRE skill solutions, Thangmeiband
  • Masterclass on Social Photography kicks off
  • Training on mushroom cultivation
  • Probe into PMGSY project blot on graft-free
  • Opinion poll & quest for ST status
  • MANITEX @ Nilakuthi #1 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Consultation: Indigenous Rights in Manipur
  • Aphababu Oiragadi, Shokloidaba Oiragadi
  • Office Assistant @Horizon Studio, Gurgaon
  • Howrah Bridge- A bridge without nuts & bolts!
  • Pollution affects beauty
  • EV boost plan after failure of diesel-auto
  • Raining drugs and drug peddlers
  • Downloadable Manipuri Calendar for 2023
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Golden Jubilee Manipuri Cinema at IFFI Goa
  • Legal Services Day Ceremony
  • Art of stopping bandhs & blockades
  • Seminar on Role of Women in Sports
  • No time for debate, but action
  • Taking ST campaign to Ministers' doors
  • Camping @Shirui Lily Fest #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Aku Zeliang : Young Talent of the Year Award
  • 'Soul search' a must for media
  • Safe and sustainable tourism
  • Preserving environment as a Career Choice
  • Manipur in UN's drug cartel map...
  • Manipur on the tourism map ?
  • Hiyang Tannaba @ Loktak #3 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Application: AgriEntrepreneur across Manipur
  • Sangai Festival 2022 :: Program & Venues
  • Ningol Chakouba at Bengaluru
  • Nightingale Award: 3 nurses from Manipur
  • Uneasy over ambiguous inter-district boundary
  • Prescription from Dr Sapam Ranjan
  • Linthoi Chanambam- Judo Player :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Will global family planning meet galvanise govt
  • Prohibition law vis-a-vis Manipur
  • Soil: Earth's skin is the environment cleaner
  • The future of students
  • Low conviction diluting object of POCSO
  • Shortage of teachers dating back to 2012
  • Indo-Naga Talks (2012-) :: News Timeline
  • Hari-Uthang Kang Chingba :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 05 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • The garden of Kew
  • Objectionable content have to be answered
  • Rising Sun Water Festival at Umiam Lake
  • Busting fake news a big challenge
  • Ningol on way to her mapam #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • 3rd Rongmei Freshers' meet in Delhi
  • Consultation on Climate Change in Manipur
  • Soil conservation measures for hill agriculture
  • Pulicat, trading centre since 1st century
  • Quixotically blaming media for blockade call
  • Mature handling of ST campaign
  • Kut Festival @ Churachandpur : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • 'Lack of Sports Infrastructure in Pherzawl'
  • Delegates wanted for participation at IFFI
  • Legal Awareness through Mobile Van
  • President Murmu's visit to Nagaland ...
  • Winter fruits for glowing skin
  • Protest imminent as Govt eyes Loktak drive
  • Pushes for an 'honourable solution'
  • Kut has become a global craze now
  • AMAND Pune: Cultural Program #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Requital :: Poem
  • Being Vegan- a big step to protect the Earth
  • Save Meetei and other indigenous people
  • Agniveer Recruitment Rally
  • Social media here to stay
  • Has AFSPA helped in bettering situation ?
  • Kangpat Khullen Primary School :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 Nov : Govt of Manipur
  • Sunak is very close to me
  • 52nd Raising Day of Naga Regiment
  • Aguli Lantern Festival at Agartala
  • Career in Ayurveda
  • Empowerment of Citizens through Legal
  • Repetitive assurances to improve irrigation
  • In the land of Nupi Lans and Meira Paibis
  • On author, research and publication #2
  • COVID-19 Status 31 Oct : Govt of Manipur
  • Ukhrul Hr Sec School & invaluable experience
  • RIST Popular Talk -56 : Stochastic Modelling
  • Computer Teacher @ Ascend Institute
  • Significance of Bangladesh PM's Japan visit
  • Bodies bare fangs over ST issue
  • Stories of achievements
  • Ningol Chakkouba Shopping #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Oct : Govt of Manipur
  • November Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • Lukanand Ksh : 1st runner up @Mister Intl
  • Thanpam K gets 67 lakh/ annum placement
  • NTC, GB body not invited to Prez's reception
  • Unity Music Fest 2022 at Luwangsangbam
  • NE specific policies must on Act East Policy
  • War on Drugs campaign : Nail the kingpins
  • Chaga Ngee : Festival of the Liangmai
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Oct : Govt of Manipur
  • Clean India Campaign Drive at MU
  • A right to realize Frontier Nagaland
  • The game of my heart
  • Is BJP South march running into roadblocks
  • Lamyanba Irawat Birth Anniv #4 : Gallery
  • Ningol on way to her mapam #1 :: Gallery
  • Okram Kumar : Archaeological researcher
  • Mera Houchongba @ Kangla #2 :: Gallery
  • Lamyanba Irawat Birth Anniv #3 : Gallery
  • Olympians & National awardees of Manipur
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2022 #4: Gallery
  • Rules of English Pronunciation : Download
  • Sub-Syllables in English : Book Download