TODAY -

A thought on the many misnomers which have led to the confused mindset of the people
(Merger Series-1)

Dr Th Suresh Singh *



Your Opinion Maker has been trying to rewrite our turbulent history and bring to a true historical perspective for the last 4 years or so. I have been pleading that it is time to stop blindly following our pseudo-historians and pseudo-intellectuals.

In the meanwhile, Government and other various civil societies (in different form) are observing 15th August 1947 as our independence day. It is the worst kind of ignorance and historical misinterpretation.

At midnight of 14/15 August 1947, British left Manipur and India. On the Manipur front, Political Agent Stewart left British legacy and transferred their power to the Dominion of India. The ceremony was conducted at British Residency (present Raj Bhawan) between Mr. Steward and Maharaja Both Chandra.

Mr. Steward, the last political Agent, was simply executing his last official duty before British left Manipur and India. That is, the seat of power remained with the Governor of Assam at Shillong.

Instead of a British Governor, there will be an Indian Governor from date day onwards. PA Steward clearly understood this when he declared just after midnight – “Good Morning Your Highness, I am the 1st Dominion Agent of India” at that particular ceremony. The only misfortune is that, we Manipuris, never understood it by blindly following our so-called pseudo-historians and pseudo-intellectuals.

Yes, British left Manipur at that midnight, it is a true historical perspective; we can’t change it. The pertinent point I am trying to emphasis is that British never ruled in Manipur. Instead of ‘British Ruled Period’, it should be referred to as ‘British Stayed Period’.

Manipur remained a vibrant and independent state till merged to Dominion India on 15th October 1949 though the famous Shillong Merger Agreement which took place on 21st September of the same year.

When I refer to a vibrant and independent state, I am referring to the full autonomy with Defence, External Affairs and Communication remaining with the British. The same is true during the period British left Manipur and before merger, i.e. to be specific, between 15/08/1947 to 14/10/1949.

History is replete with ifs and buts. Our ill-read historians and less-informed intellectuals are never clear what Instrument of Accession and Standstill Agreement are. These people thought that with the signing of these 2 Agreements on 11th August 1947, Manipur has merged to the Dominion India.

If it is so, why should one sign a Merger Agreement later on? Did they ever thought on that line? It is unfortunate that many of these people are still not clear about these 2 Agreements. These people also never knew that 1st Chief Commissioner of Manipur, Major General Rawat Amar Singh at noon of 15/10/1949, issued a notification for taking over the Administration of Manipur.

Duly elected Manipur Legislature was also dissolved on the same day. Hence, it is natural that common folks did just follow what these pseudo-intellectuals of ours say or do. One can’t blame our ordinary people for this wrong and misnomer interpretation.

Our historians never read or thought about those turbulent periods of negotiations especially after Indian Act, 1935. In those turbulent periods, especially after Prime Minister Attlee‘s declaration on 15th March 1946 to despatch a Cabinet Mission to India, drafting and redrafting of these Agreements were the order of those days.

With native princess ( those native states just like Manipur) trying to extract their pounds of flesh to the maximum, the situation became all the more complex. Legally and politically, signing of a Merger Agreement became a must in spite of signing the Instrument of Accession and Standstill Agreement.

Therefore, it is clear that 15th August 1947 is not Manipur’s independence day, it is the day of transfer of British legacy and its power to the Dominion of India represented by a governor at Shillong. This British legacy includes only defence, external affairs and communication to some extend and not all.

Hence, if one want to celebrate this day, one can observe as end of ‘British Stay Period’ (and not as ‘British Rule Period’) as explained in previous paras.

Hence, why should we observe 15th August 1947 as Independence Day while we were still independent? It is another misnomer and confused mindset! If it is to be observed, it be observed on 15th October 1949 i.e. the day Manipur merged to Dominion India.


* Dr Th Suresh Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is ex-Director, Health & WHO Fellow
This article was posted on September 28, 2017.


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