Kabaw Valley Boundary
- Part 1 -

Yumnam Rajeshwor Singh *

 View of Kabow Valley from Kangkum Village in Kamjong District, Manipur :: 25th June 2022
View of Kabow Valley from Kangkum Village in Kamjong District, Manipur in June 2022 :: Pix - Khaba Kh

A detail report on the Kabaw Valley Boundary with Manipur was given in letter No. 124 SG. A., dated 11th September 1926 written by J.C Higgins, the then political Agent in Manipur to the Chief Secretary to the Government of Assam. The following is the copy of that letter. The file containing this letter is held with National Archives of India, New Delhi and is publish in the interest of the general public.

I have the honour to refer to the correspondence resting with your letter No. 997/2056 A.P., dated the 22nd April 1925, on the subject of the boundary of the Manipur State and Burma in the Kabaw Valley , and to report as follows.

2. The history of this portion of the State boundary has been reviewed briefly in paragraph 2 to 5 of my letter No-2-T/1417G.A., dated the 13th November 1924. A full description will be found at page 175 to 211 of " the History of the relations of the Government with the hill tribes of the North-East Frontier of Bengal." By Sir Alexander Mackenzie.

3. The Government of India has always insisted that the boundary should follow the definition stated in the "Agreement regarding the Kubo Valley, 1834," which was signed by the British Commissioners of the Government of India in the presence of the Commissioners of the King of Ava ( Burma) at Sunuyachil Ghat on the 9th January 1834. This definition will be found at pages 39 and 40 of "Aitchsonís Treaties" ( Fourth Edition), and runs as follows:-
"The eastern foot of the chain of mountains, which rise immediately from the western side of the plain of the Kubo Valley",

4. After the signing of this agreement, the boundary line appears to have been partially demarcated in 1834 by the British Commissioners, Major Grant and Captain Pemberton, and was shown in old maps of the Kabaw Valley by a line subsequently known as "Pembertonís line," I have no information whether this line was actually demarcated on the ground or merely marked on a map.

No copy of the old maps is available in my office, the records of which were entirely destroyed in 1891. The boundary Commission of 1881-82 in paragraph 23 of its report, expresses the opinion that "the tract in the north of the valley was never visited by the Commissioners, who settled the boundary of 1834, and ....., that the line as depicted in the old map and commonly called ĎPembertonís line,í was never drawn by that officer or sanctioned by him".

The first presumption may be true, but against the second is the fact that the Boundary Commissioners of 1896, in paragraph 4 of its report refer to a "map of the territory of Manipur, which part of the Kubo valley and Burmese Frontier" by Captain Pemberton to which they had access. However , from maps prepared by officers of the Survey of India attached to the 1881-82 Commission, and from paragraph 3 of the report of 1896 Commission, it appears that the "Pemberton line" conformed approximately, to the definition in the agreement, as far as north as latitude 24*30í.

From there, crossing Yu river between the northern of the two "Nepali khutis" and Chaungkan ( Sheet 83L./N.W. F6), it ran in a direction approximately E.N.E. to a point just south of the stream rising on the southern slopes of peak 2215 on the Augouching range of hills ( Sheet 83L/N.E; B6). Thence it turned due north and ran in a straight line through Thana ( Sheet83L/N.E., A5), to the foot of the hills east of Kongal Thana ( Sheet 83L/N.E., A4.)

5. The Boundary Commission of 1881-82, consisting of the Political Agent in Manipur, Colonel Johnson, as Commissioner, assisted by Mr. Phayre of the Burma Commission, was appointed by the government of India to demarcate the boundary in the mountainous country immediately to the north of the Kabaw valley which was loosely defined in the agreement of 1834. It was, therefore, not directly concerned with the boundary in the Kabaw Valley itself.

But it was necessary for the Commission to fix on a starting point in the Kabaw Valley. For this purpose, Colonel Johnstone rejected the "Pembertonís line" of the map, on the ground that it included in Manipur a large portion of the plain of the Kabaw Valley, in violation of the written terms of the agreement.

He accordingly assumed the true boundary to follow the foot of the eastern slope of the Mulain( Marring) hills, comformably to the definition in the agreement, and fixed as his starting point two pillars on opposite banks of the Namya river, where it debouches from the hills a few hundred yards south of Kongal Thana. From there he laid his line eastwards along the foot of the hills to the Taleyn(Tinaing) river, and up to the Tinaing valley northwards into the hills, not concerning himself with the boundary south of Kongal Thana.

6. Owing to raids and disputes a Boundary Commission was again appointed by the Government of India in 1896, consisting of the Political Agent in Manipur, Colonel Maxwell, and Captain Macnabb of the Burma Commission, to demarcate the boundary in the Kabaw Valley itself, from Kongal Thana to the Tinzin river, with instructions "to adhere as far as possible to the definition of the boundary as laid down by Pemberton".

This they subsequently reported that they had done with modifications at Nattaung, near Tinzin, and at Yangoupokpi, rejecting the "Pembertonís line" of the old maps north of Thap or old Sumjok, and laying the line along the foot of the hills, in accordance with the wording of the agreement.

7. The line laid down by the 1896 Commission was demarcated at the time by stone cairns and masonry pillars. It is not clear from the report of the commission whether any of the pillars coincide with the pillars, if any, laid by Pemberton, or to what extent the 1896 line differ from "Pembertonís line" south of Thap. The 1896 line remains the de facto boundary to the present day.

In 1913-14 it was cleared, surveyed and demarcated with stone prisms, without any alteration, by the Political Agent in Manipur, Colonel Shakespear, and the Deputy Commissioner of the Upper Chindwin, Mr Fowler. The stone prism were placed on mounds built on the actual sites of the masonry pillars of 1896, which had become damaged, and were, in some cases difficult to trace.

8. Until recently, the boundary line laid down by the 1896 Commission was not questioned, and the claim of the Commission to have adhered to the definition of the agreement of 1834 was assumed to be correct. For eleven years after the Commission, the Manipur State was administered by the Political Agent, in his capacity as Superintendent of the State on behalf of the minor Raja.

After His Highness the Maharaja came of age in 1907 and took over the administration of the State, no Manipuri official of any standing ever had occasion to visit the dense forests at the foot of the hills, inhabited on the Manipur side over a distance of upwards of sixty miles in an air line by only four small hamlets of wild hillmen, with one small Manipuri Village.

The fact that the line departed very materially from the definition in the agreement of 1831 came to my notice, when , as President of the Manipur State darbar, I toured along this boundary in 1914 and 1916, in connection with the lease granted to the Bombay Burma Trading Corporation for the extraction of teak from the Manipur foothills.

But I took no steps to bring the matter forward, being aware that the Political Agent had come to the same conclusion in 1913, when demarcating the 1896 line, and assuming, from his inaction, that the line was regarded as "res judicata".

In his tour diary from January-February, 1913, Colonel Shakespear commented strongly on the unfair treatment accorded to the Manipur State by the Commission of 1896, and noted his intention to consider the advisability of reopening the question of the boundary, but I cannot find that he took any steps to do so.

9. During the past three cold weathers, His Highness the Maharaja has periodically visited the Kabaw Valley and the Manipur foothills abutting thereon, in connection with kheddah operations. In the course of his tour in the foothills, His Highness has personally noticed the discrepancy between the actual line and the boundary as defined in the agreement of 1834.

He has on several occasions expressed his dissatisfaction with the existing boundary, and complained of the fact that it cut off and included in Burma considerable areas of teak forest, which should rightly belong to his State. He also complains that his kheddah operations have been appreciably hampered by the withdrawal of the boundary up the lower slopes of the foothills, and the exclusion from the State of the re-entrants of many streams flowing out of the Manipur hills.

In February 1925 His Highness requested me to represent his complaint to Government, which I did. He also intimated that he wished me to visit the boundary with him. Accordingly, in your letter No. 298/93, A.P., dated the 24th February, 1925, to the address of the Director, Eastern Circle, Survey of India, you stated that the Government had decided that the demarcation of the boundary in the new survey sheets should be provisional, until after it had been inspected by His Highness, in company with me and his formal complaint received.

Last spring I visited portions of the boundary with His Highness, the Maharaja, and I will describe it briefly, nothing the principal points at which His Highness claims that the line has been laid to the disadvantage of the Manipur State, and adducing corroborative evidence from the report of the 1836 Commission, from Colonel Shakespearís tour diary, above referred to and from my own personal knowledge.

To be continued .....

* Yumnam Rajeshwor Singh wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at yrs001(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on December 04 2023 .

* 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.

  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #24: Download
  • Violence in Manipur 2023-2024 : Timeline
  • Shaheed Memorial Football Final : Gallery
  • O, Martyrs, Martyrs
  • Remembering the fire at Sainik School Imphal
  • Meephamlen & Life Time Achievement
  • Program: Youth Leadership & Development
  • 7 facts about ancient Goddess Panthoibi
  • Myanmar border fencing; arson in CCpur
  • Research Officer- Financial @ Amethyst
  • Exploring nutritional virtues of maternal milk
  • Fine dining with flavours of Northeast
  • ST categorisation : Not the job of judiciary
  • Growing demand for abrogating SoO pact
  • Save Manipur : Protest [Feb 15] #2 : Gallery
  • Agro forestry for sustainable agriculture
  • Relief materials & interaction at Kangpokpi
  • Exodus from Myanmar justify 'border fencing'
  • Earth Civilization :: Poem
  • Enhancing domestic fish consumption in India
  • Growing call to abrogate SoO pact
  • Acquitting the criminal, penalising the victim
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing #7 :: Book
  • Recipe for a full fledged civil war
  • Health Camp at Santhong Relief Camp
  • Farming- loss-making but MSP is not practical
  • Magic ingredients for radiant & flawless skin
  • First Assam LitArt Festival concludes
  • Silence of the guns, for the moment
  • A brighter side of the conflict
  • Interview with Naorem Roshibina (Wushu)
  • Memo to Chief Minister : The Way Forward
  • Best wishes to all students of classes 10th
  • The Power of Poppy - 20 :: Poem
  • Boost student retention power for board exam
  • Claiming ancestral rights over Thangjing
  • Indeed, no comparison with Manipur violence
  • Radio E-pao :: Contemporary (350+ songs)
  • Arambai Tengol & SFs #4 : Gallery
  • Rising above adversity for excellence
  • 7 facts about Meitei Goddess Nganu Leima
  • 149 experts call to find all TB to stop TB
  • Resilient tourism for vibrant career
  • Non-stop assault on Sugnu : The pattern
  • Nearly 5mn candidates for 60k posts
  • Folktales of Manipur 2.0
  • Nothing to kill or die for
  • The Kutsapo Proclamation
  • Nagas oppose border fencing with Myanmar
  • Great game for peace and security
  • IIT Delhi at Abu Dhabi
  • Restraining armed forces vis- Kuki militants
  • Drawing the battle line for Moreh at last
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #23: Download
  • Aira Thoudam - coveted scholarship in Egypt
  • Condemns violence committed in CCpur
  • Last Smile of our Fallen Comrade : Poem
  • Sachinker ties knot with Raina Rajkumari
  • Complex challenges & calls for resolution
  • Save Manipur : Protest [Feb 15] #1 : Gallery
  • Sonia Nepram at 74th Berlinale, Germany
  • Manipur: Best AIFF Grassroots Award 2024
  • Children struggling tough competition
  • Reliance Foundation partners with NSDC
  • Bigger agenda behind CCpur protest
  • When Frankenstein acts as a law unto itself
  • A Cloud in Trousers : A translation #4
  • Manipur imbroglio and our lessons
  • The Living Song :: Poem
  • Entries : Mumbai International Film Festival
  • MG Motor India's new facility in Silchar
  • Self-funded Rail budget earns profits
  • Points Imphal should lay before Delhi
  • Dissenters not to go down without a fight
  • Art Exhibition @ RKCS Museum #5 : Gallery
  • Article 371 C aggravates ethnic divide
  • Into the lap of nature : Udupi #2
  • Delhi's dance with Meitei-Kuki conundrum
  • 'Vividhata ka Amrit Mahotsav' in Delhi
  • 2024 may pose challenges in 11 States
  • FMR scrapped, border fencing assured
  • Time to take a final call
  • Legacies of the Khamba-Thoibi classics
  • Transforming education in Manipur
  • The Power of Poppy - 19 :: Poem
  • Beauty tip to look awesome- Valentine's Day
  • Towards understanding of human journeys
  • If them then why not the Meiteis ?
  • Ensuring basic rights of conflict children
  • 75th Republic Day @ Kangla #2 : Gallery
  • Bambam Thounaojam - MMA World Champion
  • Distress Relief @ Sugnu [Jan] : Gallery
  • Manipur's struggle for peace amidst tension
  • Hold govts to account for ending tobacco
  • Meghalaya Cancer Conclave 2024
  • Not the time to take political mileage
  • Way off the mark
  • Abnormal population growth of Kuki from 1881
  • May 3 violence :: Poem
  • Bharat-Burma border barbed
  • Importance of STEM careers for girls
  • Development of mental health in school
  • Displaced children in relief camps
  • Is it the end of Kuki-AR honeymoon period ?
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #22: Download
  • Manipur Technology Innovation Hub Startup
  • As Time Ticks Away :: Poem
  • Architecture & design confluence - BAIC
  • UG Scholarships 2023-24 results announced
  • Occupational therapy role in erb's palsy
  • National Voters' Day @ Lamphel : Gallery
  • Into the lap of nature : Udupi #1
  • Stop disrespect for places of worship
  • IBSD & NBRC joined hand for research
  • MedTech Mitra : A facilitation highway uptake
  • First edition of Assam LitArt Festival
  • Weed out the illegal immigrants
  • Behind and beyond the rhetoric
  • Nupi Landa Thaunaphabishing #6 :: Book
  • Training on cultivation of mushroom at Tera
  • Workshop: Exploring genomic resources of NE
  • India-Australia Partnership in Education
  • Why a new dawn of development in NE
  • Healthy Hair : keep it healthy
  • Beyond scrapping FMR
  • The letter of WKZIC to ADB
  • A Northeasterner's Reflection on India
  • Feathers of different birds flock together
  • Manipur : 9 months into endless killings
  • Call to make Big Tobacco pay for health
  • Mahotsav : Richness of Northeast India
  • Noting the call from AMCO
  • Not enough to rest assured anyone
  • Resilience in adversity | Kumbi : Gallery
  • Why effective treatments for TB not out
  • Cease the strife :: Poem
  • Balancing mental well-being of students
  • FM Hi debt funds Rs 45 tr budget
  • Submission of admission, apology
  • Unveiling the mask of Kuki MLAs once again
  • Arambai Tengol & SFs [24 Jan] #3 : Gallery
  • Lessons from Manipur on vigilantism
  • Exposure to air pollution can lead to cancer
  • Interim budget: Need comprehensive reforms
  • From exam stress to success
  • Adding more teeth to the silence
  • Still, a far-off land for Mr Prime Minister
  • A Cloud in Trousers : A translation #3
  • Dissecting the strength of Kukis #2
  • Self Defence Training : for school girls
  • Bharat Ratna for the Mandir man
  • Desi remedy for farm sector
  • Noting the words of caution from UNC
  • The best way to settle Thangjing issue
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #21: Download
  • Maharaj Gambhir Singh #2: Gallery
  • To Our Fallen Village Volunteers :: Poem
  • "It's Not My Choice" triumphs in every aspect
  • Jamir congratulates Advani for Bharat Ratna
  • Climate change needs to be taught
  • 75th Republic Day @ Kangla #1 : Gallery
  • Management fest at Assam University
  • Transformation from adulthood to parenthood
  • NEP's vision is to make India competitive
  • 35th Road Safety Campaign in North East
  • Budget - Welfare with Fiscal Discipline
  • Understanding call against lifting FMR
  • Nine months and counting
  • Statue in front of Western Gate, Kangla ?
  • My memories of Imphal from 1941 : Review
  • Auditions: 20th Mega Miss North East
  • Face scrubs for glowing skin
  • Auditions: 13th Mega Mister North East
  • Seaweed: Sea of opportunities
  • Continuing clash: Dialogue the way forward
  • The truth behind the objection
  • Gaan-Ngai at Keishamthong #2 : Gallery
  • Dissecting the strength of Kukis #1
  • Gandhiji's Three Monkeys
  • 8th Northeast Fashion Week concludes
  • The Power of Poppy - 18 :: Poem
  • Career in clean energy for sustainability
  • State's response vis-a-vis Manipur crisis
  • The cries of crisis-hit farmers
  • February Calendar for Year 2024 : Tools
  • Parental support to manage children's stress
  • Stop construction of oil Depot in Kangchup
  • Ramji's consecration may calm us
  • JioAirFiber services to cover entire NE
  • State & war on civilians : Failures
  • Trying to stay relevant
  • Protests attack @ Moreh [18 Jan] #2: Gallery
  • Seeking solutions, not scapegoats: Response
  • Gaan-Ngai celebration at Delhi
  • Citizens Action for Manipur : Launch
  • Support & Distress Relief at Sugnu
  • Bijou Thaangjam announces Film with Yogesh
  • Redefining matrimony: Prioritizing character
  • Digital Dentistry launched in Guwahati
  • Demand for ST tag: Let authority decide
  • A 'silly' option to end crisis
  • Handloom- loom other than Powerloom #4
  • Support of 8 murdered civilians : Gallery
  • Rs 6.48 lakh to families of 8 murdered civilians
  • Hiring: Hostel Wardens at SAS Manipur
  • Indo-Naga Talks (From 2012) :: Timeline
  • Clarion call to Hon'ble CM
  • Blame on State forces: Propaganda warfare
  • The declarations of ITLF
  • Descent of Radha-Krishna #20: Download
  • Release of Annual Calendar 2024 at Pune
  • Machihan Sasa honoured with Padma Shri
  • Painting : World Cervical Cancer Month
  • Where Do We Stand Now? :: Poem
  • Scope as Asst Enforcement Officer
  • Gaan-Ngai at Keishamthong #1 : Gallery
  • Relief Service @ 16 relief camps : Gallery
  • Lan Nangda Loiroba ! A musing
  • 75th Republic Day at Lamphel Court
  • Manipuri Dance at Republic Day at Chennai
  • Transforming education, building our future
  • Arambai Tengol & SFs [24 Jan] #2 : Gallery
  • Arambai Tengol & SFs [24 Jan] #1 : Gallery
  • Protests attack @ Moreh [17 Jan] #2 : Gallery
  • Final Photo Electoral Rolls for 2024
  • Protests attack @ Moreh [18 Jan] #1: Gallery
  • Guard of honor - W Somorjit : Gallery
  • 13 martyrs brought to JNIMS : Gallery
  • Mangani Leihul of 13 martyrs #2 : Gallery
  • Oinam Chaoba Devi: Sepak Takraw : Gallery
  • Ayekpam Maipak (Sepak Takraw) : Gallery
  • Shanglakpam Nilakanta (Hockey) : Gallery
  • List of Kings of Manipur: 33 - 1984 AD