Clarification to LB Singh's "Letter to the Editor" dated 28-07-2023
Shri LB Singh had mentioned in his "Letter to the Editor" two "inaccurate statements" appearing in my article titled "Resolving Kuki-Zo-Chin and Meitei Conflict" which appeared in your esteemed newspaper on 24th July, 2023.
The alleged inaccurate statements were overruled as i)"...during the reign of Raja Nara Singh ... Manipur was not under British Colonial Rule" and ii) "... 'Reserved Forest' is not included in the Schedule to the Hill Areas Committee (HAC)." To my mind, the issues rest clearly on how the facts are interpreted or appreciated.
On the first point, after the Anglo-Burmese War of 1826, Manipur became a "Protectorate" of the British. Amongst the reasons why Manipur was taken to be a Protectorate State are issues like Gambhir Singh became Raja due to the British (see Anglo-Burmese Treaty, 1826), a Political Agent was imposed and posted in Imphal with an armed force, Manipur carried out all the biddings of the British like conducting surveys, building road into Assam, taking a force to assist the British in reducing an insurrection in the Khasi Hills, demarcating Manipur's boundary, etc. were all enforced and conducted by the British colonial power in Manipur. A Protectorate State is never truly an independent State.
The second issue relates to the statement ... "The 'Reserved Forest' is not included in the Schedule of the Hill Areas Committee (HAC)." I had emphasised that The Manipur Legislative Assembly (Hill Areas Committee), Order, 1972 cannot supersede Central Laws on the same subject. In fact Manipur's HAC law may now require an amendment due to a Central law i.e. The Scheduled Tribes and Other Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. As stated earlier, the issues are more in line with appreciations or interpretations, not a case of “inaccurate statements."
Kindly print this letter as it provides rooms for reasoning and understanding.