A brief note on Manipur and the Lushai Expedition, 1871-72

    10-Jun-2020
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Prof N Lokendra Singh
Continued from previous issue
2.    Manipur-Lushai Treaty, 1872
[Source: Annual Administration Report of the Munnipoor Agency for the year  ending 30th June 1873, pp. 7-8].
The Manipur-Lushai Treaty of 1872 is a significant document that explains the larger picture of the expedition in relation to Manipur and the Lushais. Several of the Lushai chiefs visited Imphal after the expedition and before the Maharaja, the Political Agent and his officials “renewed their engagement, taking the oaths usual to the tribes and consenting to the following Treaty, which was explained to them”. The Treat was, in verbatim, as follows:
TREATY
We, the undersigned, viz., Damboom, Raja of Tikung, on the part of Poiboi; Daloom, Muntri on the part of Lenkoom; Lallkoop, Raja of Laireek; Konga, Raja of Puchoohi; and Bolool, Muntri of Dalkoom, hereby swear according to our custom that mutual friendship shall always be maintained by us towards the British Government and the Maharaja of Munnipoor, and we will faithfully abide by the following Articles of Treaty with Maharaja:-
Article I: We engage never again to be guilty of acts of aggression towards the subjects of aforesaid powers, and to renounce making human sacrifices for the obsequies of our Chiefs.
Article II: We engage to hold no communication whatever of a designing nature with any tribes hostile to the aforesaid powers, and we promise to give due notice of inimical intentions in their part that may come to our knowledge.
Article III: We engage to give free passage through our country to any forces which the aforesaid powers may deem necessary to send through it, to reach other tribes, and we promise to give any assistance to such forces as we may be called upon to render.
Article IV: We promise to afford support and encouragement to traders from British and Munnipoor Territories.
Article V: The Maharaja of Munnipoor on his part promises to forgive all acts of aggression against his subjects committed by us previous to this treaty conditionally that none of his subjects who are in captivity shall be detained against their will.
Article VI: The Maharaja further promises to support us if unjustly attacked by any of our neighbouring tribes, and in such case to assist us in recovering any of our people who may be carried into captivity.
Article VII: The Maharaja also promises, in event of drought or famine, to assist us with food, also to exact no dues whatever for a period of five years from merchants or traders going to and coming from our country.
3. Translation of the Inscription at Chibu
The inscription on stones at Chibu, erected during the operation, is variously translated by different authorities. We provide here one translation given by late Professor Gangmumei Kamei. [Fig 1. Original Inscription on Chebu stone]
Shri Panchajukta Manipur eshwara Laairen Maitingngu Naauchinglen Nongtrenkhompaa Shrijut Chandra Kirti Singh Mahaaraajaanaa Khaaki Lusei Haao loichanbaa Laaishrabaa Purna Singnaa Chaithaabaa kum shak 1793 Waakching thaaki humni paanbaa Thaangjaa numittaa Shrijut Snaa thaukan chatpati Shri Saukaaichamchaa Balaam Singh Ahalup Laakpaa Tulihan Major Shri Kaangngabamchaa Thaanggaan Laaipham Laakpaa Tuli Naahaa Major 2 manaachingbaa Shrijut Jarnel Naathan Saahep Sardaar 130 nongmai 2000 asi loinai loihaa pot saamu maayaa senpung asi purak-i thumkhong asi huklam-i Shrijutki Paada Chinha thanam-i, Loichalakpa Haaokhunti Poichoine Lengkhamne Daambar bum Haagal asinachingpaa khunkang 112 asi loi chanrak-i.
Shri Lusei
Chingpaa Ningthau 4 Khunkang 1 khomlak-i.
Prof. Gangmumei Kamei’s Translation
[Source: History of Modern Manipur, pp. 98-99]
“His Highness endowed with the five qualities, Lord of Manipur, Snake king of the Meiteis, born to the throne, ruler of the land, the Maharaja Chandra Kirti Singh, on Saturday, 3rd Wakching of the year, 1793 of the Sakabda “era” when Laisraba Purna Singh was Cheithaba reduced to a subjection the Lushai towards the south. The two servants of His Highness who attended (him) were Saukaichamba Balaram Singh, Steward of Ahallup, Major of the Tulihal Regiment, and Thangal born of the Kangaba caste (lineage), Steward of Laifam Major of the Tulinahal Regiment with whom were General Nuthall, 130 officers and 2000 muskets”.
“They took as tribute elephant tusks and gong dedicated this brine spring and carved here these foot prints of His Highness.”
“They subdued the following Hao (tribal) villages, Poiboi, Lengkham, Dambam etc and 112 villages and including Thankhalat, the Lushai, they captured four-chiefs and one village.”  Written by Nongchamba Dhornemar, Wahangba, Sijamawa (royal brother-in-law), Pratap Singh and Gokulchandra the Chief Salt Agent.”
4.    Account of Major-General W.F. Nuthall, commanding Manipur column
[Source: NAI, FP, August 1872, No. 83: Nuthall to Aitchison, 12 April 1872]
Maj-Gen. Nuthall, in his report to the GoI, narrated the events associated with Manipur column under his command. On 31 December 1871, he said that two messengers from Lushai chief Poiboi visited the camp and submitted “a little girl of 11 years of age, who had been captured about two years previously”. On 5 January 1872, another two messengers from the same chief arrived again. On 10 January 1872, sent an escort party to rescue the villagers of Boonjong (40 miles from Chibu) who had escaped from Lushai chiefs Leenkoom. The escort party brought 227 persons (64 men, 58 women, 105 children). On 12 January 1872, Lushai chief Damboom came to the camp with a huge number of armed followers and informing Maj-Gen. Nuthall of the “sincerity of Poiboi’s regret for their past misdeeds, and promise of future goodwill, but entreated that the troops should not be allowed to advance upon their villages”. 13 January 1872, Nuthall reported, Damboom took an oath “by sacrificing in midstream a dog, previously baptized with spirits, swearing never again to make raid upon the Maharaja’s territory”.
The Lushai chief left on the 14th with a promise to visit again. Two Kuki messengers were sent with Damboom with a letter for Brig-Gen Bourchier and also to get an interview with Poiboi. On 25 January 1872, the Kuki messengers returned from Poiboi came with chief Damboom (accompanied by at least 300 hundred armed followers and inferior leaders). He was “delegated by Poiboi to make terms of future friendship with the Maharaja”. The next day, Damboom and his followers were allowed inside the Camp and a treaty was accordingly struck. (Please see the Manipur-Lushai Treaty, below). On 29 January 1872, when Damboom left the camp, Nuthall also left for Imphal. Due to shortage of food and an outbreak of “effluvia” in the Camp, the troops were withdrawn to Lultubboong. Nuthall returned on 8 February 1872. Chibu camp was, however, reoccupied on 27 February 1872.
Prof N Lokendra Singh is Head of Department of History, Manipur University  (to be continued)