The truth about Gorkhas in Manipur

I, on behalf of the Gorkha/Nepali community of Manipur take this opportunity to clarify and request the concerned organisation to go into the facts pertaining to allegations prompted against the Gorkha/Nepali.

Whereas, time and again, it is alleged that the Gorkha/Nepali have encroached the lands of the tribals in the hill areas; that there is a Gorkha/Nepali influx in Manipur and the Gorkha/Nepali Population has increased to 7,44,088 against the 6,70,782 total population of the tribals in the hill area, as per 2001 Census of India, and another one alleged to over 3 lakhs that there is a serious threat to the people of Manipur because of this influx and it may cause for demand of Gorkha land. Besides this some organisations issued the quit notice to leave the State by 31st May 2010 and 4th April 2011 through leading daily local papers. Such baseless provoking and prejudiced allegations and exaggeration are malicious and mischievous, which hurt the sentiments of the Gorkha/Nepali and cast a gloom over them who have been living here for generations.

Whereas/whatsoever it is necessitated to be explicit and substantiate the origin of the Gorkha/Nepali in Manipur, to present here a historical background in the light of the present allegation infused on this peace loving community, by various organisations. These historical facts unknown to most of the people, interested in the context of the Gorkha/Nepali settlement in Manipur may give a right perspective for further comments.

That, before 1st December 1946 some parts of hills in Kanglatongbi and places of Senapati area were occupied by the Nepali graziers and there was not a single tribal in that area. The Nepali would have claimed the vast land as their own, but being a law-biding community we never speak a single word for demand that could have hampered the integrity of Manipur. We feel pity while expressing that not a single word of appreciation being heard from the seers of Manipur for the Sacrifice made by the Gorkha Martyr’s Subedar Niranjan Singh Chhetry who was hanged by the British on 8th June 1891 at the Western gate of the Kangla for defending the sovereignty of Manipur. Therefore, may I demand to erect a memorial bust of Martyr Subedar Niranjan Singh Chhetry in the Kangla instead of the demand of Gorkha District or Gurkha Land forever.

It is my humble submission to the people of Manipur that they should not be excited or feel any threat with the population figure given above by some organisations as it is totally false and imaginary of the organisation has indicated the Gorkha/Nepali population on the basis of 2001 census which had increased to 7,44,088, if it is so every noble citizen of Manipur can go through the census record of 2001 to know the actual fact and figure. Whereas, in the absence of earlier records to authenticate exact date and year of arrival of the Gorkha/Nepali in Manipur, writers, research scholars and historians are not able to sketch the history in a right perspective. One of the research scholars in his research paper had mentioned their arrival in 1833 during the reign of Maharaja Chandra Kriti. But it is generally presumed that Gorkha/Nepali Settlement in Manipur dated back to 1885.

The proper beginning and end of the historical event of happening are always uncertain because they often vary. One may find one instance of migration or even two, but they are inadequate. Even eminent scholars like MK Binodini the royal member of the ruling clan of Manipur while commenting clings to this uncertainty and thus confirms that authentication is impossible, she says “in fact I do not know at what time so called Nepali community actually came to Manoipur. Since my childhood beginning from Mantripukhri to Kangpokpi, I have seen their settlement to be in existence long before many years. At the time of my father Maharaja Churachand, when he was in drive on the Dimapur road,  I still remember the joyous welcome and applause accorded by the Nepalese children near by the road and I saw many Nepali personnel in the post of high rank and files of the Manipur State Police” (Binodini M.K. ‘A Yaipha Paojel’ in a journal called ‘Netee; published by Manipur Nepali Sahitya Parishad in 2006) (Our translation, emphasis added)

The Panchayati Raj in the hills of Manipur is not a new one. Its genealogy can be traced back to the early part of the 20th century, before the extension of the UP Panchayati Raj Act 1947 and its successor, the Manipur Panchayati Raj 1975 and 1994.

History has shown the existence of an older version of the Raj, or the local governing body, in both the Valley and non-tribes Nepali of the Hills in grazing reserve area which is more or less valley, in the reign of Manipuri Maharajas.    
 Panchayati Raj was extended in the Gorkha/Nepali reserve area, since no tribals settlement was traced except one Tokpa Naga to whom Six(6) Pari of paddy land was granted. Three Panchayat had been constituted by the Political agent in Gorkha/Nepali reserve area namely Kanglatongbi, Kangpokpi and ‘rang consisting of five(5) member and one President in each of the Panchayat, and were kept under the judicial member of the durbar.                        —to be contd
The writer is President of the Manipur Gorkha Welfare Union, Manipur.