Shutdown in parts of Manipur against 1949 merger with India

The response to a bandh for the same reason in Tripura was lukewarm.

October 15, 2019 02:23 pm | Updated 02:23 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Parts of Manipur shut down on Tuesday against the merger of the State with the Indian Union 70 years ago. The response to a bandh for the same reason in Tripura was lukewarm.

Two Manipur-based umbrella extremist organisations – the Coordination Committee (CorCom) and the Alliance of Socialist Unity, Kangleipak (ASUK) – and the Tripura-based National Liberation Front of Twipra (NLFT) had announced the shutdown to mark the “forced merger” of the two States with India on October 15, 1949.

The shutdown, ranging from 12-18 hours, affected six districts in the plains of Manipur dominated by the Meitei community. The impact was minimal in the hills although life was affected because of disruption of communication with State capital Imphal.

“The shutdown was largely ignored in Tripura,” a senior police officer in State capital Agartala said, adding there were reports of some remote tribal areas having been affected to some extent.

A dark period, say extremist groups

A joint statement signed by the leaders of the outfits such as NLFT president H. Uastwng Borok and ASUK chairman N. Oken said the merger was a “dark period” in the history of Manipur and Tripura.

“We have become demographically outnumbered or nearly outnumbered, politically marginalised and disintegrated, economically dependent and pauperised, socially disorganised and splintered, morally degenerated, bastardised and treacherous, and psychologically diffident and vacillating. National doom is staring at us viciously. Merger with India is the root cause of all these national maladies,” they said.

Maharaja Bodhachandra Singh of Manipur and V.P. Menon, representing the Union government, signed the Manipur Merger Agreement on October 15, 1949. Tripura’s merger was signed by Maharani Kanchanprabha Devi, who was in charge of the State since her husband and the last reigning king, Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya, died in 1947.

“The merger agreements were signed under duress by two incompetent authorities of the two kingdoms,” the joint statement from the extremist groups said.

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