How Manipur became a part of India in 1949

Mohammad Bilal
Mohammad BilalJul 20, 2023 | 16:29

How Manipur became a part of India in 1949

Ethnic violence in Manipur since May 3, 2023 has claimed the lives of 160 people. Photo: Getty

Manipur, one of the 500 princely states, became a part of India following its independence on September 21, 1949. This strategic land-locked state shares borders with Myanmar and China, making its inclusion in the Indian union a significant move.

However, the recent surge of violent incidents since May 3, 2023, has plunged the entire state into turmoil, deeply affecting the people's confidence. Over the past three months, the violence has resulted in the loss of more than 160 lives and rendered several thousand homeless.


Of particular distress was the shocking viral video of the brutal sexual assault on two Kuki women in Churachandpur on July 19. These events have not only tested the Indian government's ability to control the situation but have also intensified the tensions between the two communities: the Kuki and the majority Meitei.

Violence has rocked Manipur since May 3, 2023 which has also led to death of over 160 people. Photo: PTI

Meiteis to revisit state's merger agreement with India

The Meitei community is now grappling with concerns about reconsidering their state's merger with India. According to an India Today report, Meitei FAMBEI, an assembly representing the adult Meitei population, has resolved to revisit Manipur's merger agreement with the Indian union.

Ningthouja Lancha, a leader of the group, highlighted that the present conflict is not merely a failure of law and order but a consequence of the divide and rule policy that the Indian government has seemingly pursued over the years. The Meitei community argues that the British colonial administration and the subsequent merger with India have led to the continuous degradation of Manipur's socio-economic, ecological, and political systems.

Their concerns go beyond Manipur's internal challenges; they also recognize the geopolitical implications stemming from the state's proximity to Myanmar and China.

Despite over 74 years of independence, Manipur finds itself in turmoil, and its people are feeling increasingly alienated from India.


How Manipur overcame the Second World War

Looking back to the Second World War, in 1941, Manipur was under British rule, with Meidingngu Bodhchandra Singh, the son of Meidingngu Churachand, serving as the ruler.

During the war, he remained loyal to the British and called for a National War Front meeting to garner support for the British side.

In 1942, Japanese bombers attacked the capital, Imphal, leading to a mass exodus of the Manipuri people. This event marked the first hoisting of the Indian flag in Manipur on April 14, 1944, as the Japanese, allied with Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army (INA), reached the region. However, the British forces successfully defeated the Japanese as they approached Imphal.

The route to integration with India

Realizing the changing circumstances, Bodhchandra Singh established a committee to draft a constitution for a new government in Manipur. Completed in 1947, the first elections were held in Manipur, and MK Priyobarta became the first Chief Minister.

Finally, the Maharaja met with representatives of the Indian government in Shillong, where after a few days of negotiations, he signed an instrument of accession with India on September 21, 1949.

As part of the agreement, the Maharaja was guaranteed full privileges, customary rights, and a privy purse of three lakh rupees. The Government of India reassured the Manipuri people that their rights would be protected, and their customary laws and cultural practices would continue without hindrance.


Subsequently, the Manipur state assembly was dissolved, and Rawal Amar Singh took over as the first Indian Chief Commissioner of Manipur.

Manipur became a Union Territory of India in 1962 and achieved full statehood within India in 1972.

Last updated: July 20, 2023 | 16:29
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