An Open Letter to Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
Greetings from Manipur, where the Indian National Flag was hoisted for the first time in India on 14 April, 1944. I am not a political person but a Social Worker working in the field of social issues in Manipur to bring peace, prosperity , communal harmony in Manipur.
You may be aware of the rich history of Manipur as a sovereign kingdom with unbroken history from 1445 BC till 27 April, 1891 and as a princely state from 1891 till 15 October, 1949 when Manipur was forcibly merged to India. The Government of India had committed a series of historical blunders during 1947-1950 which are beyond the scope of international laws and which remained as a source of conflicts with the Government of India and the people of Manipur. The present policy of the Government of India appeasing Naga underground (NSCN-IM) sacrificing the vital interest of Manipur added fuel to the prevailing ethnic tension in Manipur . This is definitely not a wise policy of the Government of India.
In this connection, you may kindly refer to the statement of G.K. Pillai, the then Union Home Secretary, which was published on 27 September, 2011 in the Telegraph newspaper. According to him, the repeal of the draconian act AFSPA -1958 was one of the first steps towards resolving the vexed conflict of Manipur’s valley and hills. He said that “ the ancient kingdom of Manipur had a constitution even before India wrote her own and had a proud history and was overnight turned into a C-category state in 1948. He further added “ we have to build trust by dealing with the core issues An apology , say by the Prime Minister or the Home Minister, for the past mistakes could be a start.” Kumari Irom Chanu Sharmila has been undergoing “ Fasting unto death” for the last 14 years for repeal of AFSPA whereas Gandhiji’s longest fast was 21 days.
We feel that an apology is not sufficient. The historical blunders which led to illegal annexation of Manipur to India generate a sense of betrayal in the psyche of youths of Manipur today. G.K. Pillai said “ Naga political problem in the hills and the Meitei militancy were intricately enmeshed. It was after Nagaland was formed that the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), the oldest Meitei insurgent group in Manipur was formed in 1964.” In fact Nagaland state was created by the Government of India from a village republic with no written history when Manipur with a written history of 2000 years was denied of Statehood till 1972.
The recent statement of the Union Home Minister that the Government of India will continue the implementation of AFSPA as per wishes of the Indian Army amount to handing over the administration of Manipur to the Army. If it is so, why not the Indian Government impose AFSPA on Maoist and Naxalite infested states like Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. Why do the Indian Government choose to impose AFSPA selectively in some states like Manipur, Kashmir. Is there any hidden agenda?
If the Government of India genuinely wants a long lasting solution bringing peace, prosperity, development and communal harmony of Manipur, you may kindly consider to come out with some concrete solutions in the form of constitutional amendments .
1. The Instrument of Accession signed by Maharajah Bodhchandra of Manipur on 11 August was never ratified by the Manipur Constituent Assembly and therefore not valid. In case of Jammu and Kashmir , the Instrument of Accession was ratified on February 15, 1954.
2. According to the Government of India Act-1935 (6), (9) , as soon as may be after any Instrument of Accession or Supplementary Instrument has been accepted by His Majesty under this section, copies of the Instrument and His Majesty’s acceptance thereof shall be laid before the Parliament and all courts shall take judicial notice of every such instrument and acceptance. But there are no records of the accepted copies of the Instrument of Accession of Manipur having laid down before the Parliament and all courts of India ?
3. Signing of Merger agreement on 21 September, 1949 was done by deceit, coercion, intimidation and forceful tactics contrary to international laws when India claimed to be a democratic country. Even after signing the Instrument of Accession, Manipur did not lose her sovereignty as the Union Government was to look after Defense, External affairs and Communications. The signing of the Manipur Merger Agreement was therefore between a sovereign state called Manipur and the Government of India. It should therefore be free from coercion or intimidation, force or undue pressure. What the Government of India did was nothing but coercion, intimidation under house arrest with a large numbers of security personnel.
4. The 4th sitting of the 3rd session of the Manipur State Assembly in its session held at the Johnston School on 28th September, 1949 at 2.30 pm in protest against the "Merger Agreement signed on 21st September 1949" declared the Merger Agreement was invalid as the powers and authorities of Maharaja had been vested with the State Assembly. The excerpt of the Assembly proceedings was published in the Manipur State Gazette, part IV, dated 14 October 1949. Mr. T.C. Tiankham Speaker , Mr. M. K, Priyobarta Singh, Chief Minister and 6 other Ministers and Hon'ble 43 Members were present and adopted the resolution. The copies of the declaration signed by P.B. Singh, Chief Minister, T.C. Tiankham, Speaker, Arambam Ibungotomcha Singh, Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs was sent to the Government of India. But there is no reply on this issue during the last 65 years.
5. Once Manipur became part of the India, the Government of India dissolved the State's Constitution Assembly in October, 1949 without repealing the Manipur Constitution Act-1947. This is another blunder the Government of India placed Manipur under “Part C State”. This was considered a disgrace to the state and the people of Manipur. Further it was degraded to the status of the union territory from 1956 onwards. In 1972, Manipur was elevated to the status of a state (or province) after a long and protracted struggle. Nagaland was raised from a village republic to Statehood on1 December, 1963 as a part of appeasement policy of the Government of India towards the Naga underground movement. Manipuris took it as a gross insult to the state and the people of Manipur perpetuated by the Government of India.
In case of Jammu and Kashmir, Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India had allowed to have (1) a special status under Article 370 of Indian Constitution in spite of so many oppositions, Ambedkar refused to prepare a draft of Article 370 (2) a separate constitution (3) a separate flag (4) a separate emblem to appease his half-brother Sheikh Abdulla, who was just a school teacher. In case of Manipur, he had done many things, which was detrimental to the general interest of Manipur people. His small statue at Imphal constantly reminded the people about the blunders he had done to the people. The existing Article 371C of the Indian Constitution is found to be extremely discriminatory and the source of all communal conflicts in Manipur which needs to be amended. We feel that you may be aware that the Indian Constitution was imposed on Manipur. Manipur did not participate in the Indian Constitutional debate held during 9th december,1946 to 24th January, 1950. It was never ratified by the then Manipur State Assembly. Manipur never asked the Government of India for constitutional amendment during the last 65 years. Among all the problems of Manipur, constitutional amendment to bring about communal harmony, unity, equality and solidarity among all ethnic groups of Manipur is the number one priority.
Considering these points, I would like to request you kindly find a permanent cure to these problem in Manipur and consider amendment of the Indian Constitution with the following provisions :-
1. The Article 3 of Indian Constitution regarding alteration of state boundaries shall not apply in respect of Manipur to protect the 2000 year old territorial integrity of Manipur.
2. The Union List and Concurrent list under the Indian Constitution pertaining to Manipur shall be taken up by the Government of India only with the concurrence of the State Legislative Assembly
3. Since 90% of Manipur is a hill area, Manipur may be declared as a Hill State
4. All the ethnic groups in Manipur may be brought under an uniform civil code
5. All the ethnic groups in Manipur may be brought under an uniform Land Laws
6. Any person from other states of India will be allowed to purchase lands only with the approval of the State Government to protect the indigenous people of Manipur
7. Any person from other states of India shall need an “Inner Line Permit” to enter Manipur on payment of nominal fees to protect the identity, culture, traditions, language, script of the Manipuris . Manipur welcomes all people from other states to visit Manipur .
8. The Pakhangba –Sanamahi religion and other Tribal religions which are the indigenous religions of Manipur will be recognized as the other religions of the State.
9. The Constitution should provide establishment of an upper house ( Legislative Council ) with a minimum of 40 members with 10 seats reserved for nomination.
10 The Number of Rajya Sabha MPs should be increased to seven (7) on the basis of equal representation of states as done in USA and other countries. Large and small states shoukl dbe treated at par in the Rajya Sabha or Council of States.
11. The Manipuri script ( Meitei Mayek) should be included in the coins and currency bank notes
12. The followers of Pakhangba –Sanamahi religion may be put under “ Scheduled Tribe category” of the Indian Constitution.
If you kindly consider these amendments and implement successfully , more than 90 percent of the problems of Manipur will subside.
Dr. Khomdon Lisam
Former Superintendent of the
Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of
Medical Sciences, Imphal.