What had happened to Manipur ?
- Part 12 -

Puyam Nongdrei *

Flag of Manipur flying high on Observance of  285 years of Puya Mei Thaba  at Hanjing Meekollok, Heingang
Flag of Manipur flying high on Observance of 285 years of Puya Mei Thaba at Hanjing Meekollok, Heingang :: Pix - Deepak Oinam

The first option has no problem if India agreed to it. The second and the third have problems. For the legal validity and applicability of the Instrument of Accession, the rules for administration of Manipur, 1947 must be revoked so that the Ruler of the State exercised full authority in and over Manipur State. The third option also requires revocation of the order so that the Ruler of Manipur had full authority to execute the July Agreements and Instrument of Accession.

Section 19 (5) of the Indian Independence Act provided the power to vary or revoke any order made previously in exercise of the power conferred by the Act. But this power was not to vary or revoke the order made to approve the rules for administration of Manipur, 1947. It could be exercised to make changes to the order made in connection with the signing of the July Agreements as the power to do so was conferred to the Assam Governor by section 19 (5) the Indian Independence Act.

The order made by Assam Governor in regards to the rules for administration was under the Rules for Management of Manipur, 1935. The second order made by Assam Governor to enter into agreement was under the Indian Independence Act, 1947. Any order to be made by the Governor on or before 15th August 1947 in relation to Manipur by exercising his power of individual judgment was under the Indian Independence Act.

How to undo the enforcement of the rules for adminsitration of Manipur, 1947? This constitutional status was to be changed for making the Instrument of Accession legally valid and applicable in Manipur. No order could be made by Governor after 15th August 1947 under section 9 (5) of the Indian Independence Act. The Instrument and Standstill Agreement were sent to Delhi on 13 August 1947 from Imphal.

What if the Governor was to exercise the section 9 (3) of the Indian Independence Act? The retrospective effect of the order made by the Governor as from 3rd June 1947 could be another means to revoke the new constitutional status of Manipur. This will abrogate the July Agreements too. However, section 9 (3) has a proviso which states that
"Provided that no person shall be deemed to be guilty of an offence by reason of so much of any such order as makes any provision thereof retrospective to any date before the making thereof."

The retrospective effect as from 3rd June 1947 will stop the operation of the 'Rules for Administration of Manipur, 1947'. Could it be done? The Governor signed two agreement in July 1947 under the new rules for administration of Manipur. The Assam Governor gave the approval order to the rules before it came into force on 1st July 1947. Doing so could make Akbar Hydari the guilty person. Section 9 (3) of the Independence Act of 1947 was useless to go beyond 1st July 1947.

The Instrument of Accession was supposed to be signed between Manipur King and the Governor-General. The July Agreements were signed between Assam Governor and His Highness in Council of Manipur. Accession of Manipur was possible legally only when the Constitutional Monarchy established since 1st July 1947 could be revoked. The proviso of the section 9 (3) was not put simply for the sake of writing. Was it to grant a special status to Manipur or to generate controversy? Whichever way one follows, Manipur had a different status unlike any other Indian States after 15th August 1947.

1st July 1947 is the centre stage of the Manipur-India politcal conundrum. If the approval order for the Rules for Administration of Manipur, 1947 could not be revoked to undo the constitutional change in Manipur, nothing could be done to accede Manipur legally. Only the use of force and disinformation to keep the people of Manipur in darkness would help India to integrate Manipur.

Finally, only the July Agreements could be applicable to Manipur as the Instrument of Accession had no legal validity. The secret file of the Home Ministry of India could be hiding this truth. As the accession was never signified by the Governor-General Lord Mountbatten, Manipur had her constitution and the external affairs intact during the period from 15th August 1947 to 15 October 1949. This was something that New Delhi could not tolerate.

Many in Manipur know that the Instrument of Accession and Standstill Agreement were signed by King Bodhchandra to accede the State to Indian Dominion. But they don't want to question the legal-constitutional basis of Manipur which put the State far beyond the Dominion's clutches. The Instrument of Accession was legally validated by the Indian Independence Act for other Indian States but Manipur could not be acceded because of her distinct legal-constitutional status since 1st July 1947.

Before the signing of the Merger Agreement, the July Agreements were binding agreements or treaties between Manipur and India. The forced merger put an end to everything. The status of Manipur before the extraction of the Merger Agreement under duress by detaining the king in Shillong and the non-ratification of the agreement by the State Assembly operating in 1949 put the Indian Union in a bad shape.

The orders issued by the Indian authorities to effect the take over of Manipur on 15 October 1949 acknowledged the existence of the State Assembly and Council and the legal-constitutional status of Manipur under which the supreme power or authority was exercised by His Highness in Council. The Indian Government authorities cannot erase these facts and Manipur will continue to use these political scores to claim a respectable status until there is a mutually agreed political settlement.

Anything done after 15th August to integrate Manipur without the consent of the elected government of the State or the people of Manipur was tantamount to Indian aggression and annexation. There is nothing that the Government of India can say about it in front of a competent authority. Secret file, disinformation, militarisation and imposition of AFSPA can not hide the truth from the people of Manipur.

The British colonial experiences have taught the Indian authorities many useful lessons to administer the sensitive areas lying between India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and China. The great ethnic political aspirations ranging from ethnic homelands of autonomus districts to ethnically exclusive states are being proposed and are growing in this region like wild flowers on a fertile meadow. Many are still swearing to fight against India, Myanmar and Bangladesh to establish their ethnic dreamlands. International politics is very complicated and there is little room for accomodating all the ethnic/national aspirations. Even the Indian Constitution can accommodate only some of these.

During this time Manipur has been experiencing the trials and tribulations since 1949. We are now living in the late 2014. The lost of Manipur's status as a separate geopolitical entity lying between South Asia and Southeast Asia in 1949 has everything to do with New Delhi's game plan.

Mayang population, the armed conflict, Nagalim demand and political aspirations of the Kuki-Chin-Zomi ethnic groups are pulling and pushing Manipur in different directions. New Delhi will continue to hold the 'ethnic plurality card' to control the higher aspirations of the people of Manipur. Whether the ethnic aspirations or atleast some of them will be fulfilled or not is uncertain yet.

A progressive Manipur will come into existence when New Delhi acts sincerely and the people of Manipur learn to exercise their legitimate rights without fear. A viable political solution to Manipur-India conflict will sort out many of the ethnic problems. A strong and prosperous Manipur having a cordial relationship with India will be mutually beneficial. The geopolitcal entity of Manipur having a recorded history of not less than 2000 years has to earn respect from other peoples and nations in the world. One can not beg for respect. It has to be earned by our sheer efforts and sacrifices.

Why the July Agreements? Why the secret file of the Home Ministry? Sending of Major General Rawal Amar Singh as Dewan in April 1949 was an important step. "Is there not a brigadier in Shillong?" was a good question. Detaining the King's party in Shillong without communication with outside world was another great service.

The dissolution of the elected State Assembly and Council in 1949 was for peace and mutual benefit. The disrespect of the Manipur State Constitution (the supreme law of Manipur) and the expectation of full loyalty to the Indian Constitution are great lessons worth learning. Sardar Patel was talking about measures to control the people of northeast India by deploying armed forces and intelligence agents because of pro-mongoloid prejudices and having no established loyalty to India.

Love for motherland, loyalty to a nation, and most importantly the recorded history spanning for thousand of years are something that cannot be changed or achieved overnight. Any expectation like this would turn national pride and patriotism of a people/nation into pizzas or momos. It will be very inhumane and irrational to think so. The treatment meted out to Manipur in the last over six decades can not be justified on any ground.

One can also ask some questions. What about our loyalty to the Manipur national flag hoisted on 15th August 1947? What about the Manipur Constitution Act of 1947? What the former Union Home Secretary G.K.Pillai knows about Manipur is known to many Indian leaders. They pretend to be ignorant of Manipur's past and their political misadventures. Manipur deserves to be recognised as the State which could not be acceded in 1947 and that had a written constitution before India has one.

The 1st Battalion Assam Regiment led by Lt-Colonel Ram Singh and 4th Assam Rifles led by Yusuf Ali in Manipur did yeoman's jobs to face any eventuality in Manipur. Dewan Rawal Amar Singh's statement to the press about the intensive patrolling of the eastern border and in the interior areas by the Assam Rifles and regular troops was well-recieved by the law-abiding Manipur residents.

Imposition of AFSPA for decades is the greatest measure the Government of India has ever done for peace and order in Manipur. These are the results of the Merger Agreement executed in the best interests of Manipur and India by detaining the King of Manipur in 1949.

Peace, harmony, non-violence and development are the words one can see/hear in the official statements and speeches made by great leaders. Actions and words are different and they don't see eye to eye. The law-abiding people of Manipur are confused whether to learn the 'actions' or follow the 'words' of the peace-loving country.

As a result, some follow the actions done by India and some others keep on uttering the same 'words' that the Government of India has been using since 1947. This small State has already sacrificed enough blood. New Delhi should stop punishing the victims of the Merger Agreement of 21st September 1949.

Use of military means and threat of use of force should be stopped at once for a political solution to the Indo-Manipur conflict. New Delhi should tackle this deep-rooted political problem with sincerity. There is nothing that New Delhi can gain by flexing military muscles in this tiny State. The yearning for a better future by a small nation/people having a recorded civilisation of about 2000 years should not be seen just as a melodrama. Manipur has nothing more or nothing less to ask from New Delhi.

See a List of Reference Materials for this article

Concluded ...

* Puyam Nongdrei wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at khuman_mei(at)yahoo(dot)com
This article was posted on January 07, 2015.

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