Manipur

Imphal Imphal
Capital : Imphal
Largest city : Imphal
District(s) : 9
Population : 2,388,634 (22nd)
Density : 107/km² (277/sq mi)
Language(s) : Meiteilon
Established : 1972-01-21 Manipur is a state in northeastern India making its capital in the city of Imphal. Its people include the Meetei, Pangal (Muslims), Bishnupriya Manipuri's, Naga and Kuki who speak different languages of branches of the Tibeto-Burman family. The state is bounded by Nagaland to the north, Mizoram to the south and Assam to the west, Burma lies to the east. It covers an area of 22,327 square kilometres (8,621 sq mi).

The Meiteis, who live primarily in the state's valley region, are one of the primary ethnic groups forming 35% of its total population.They live on 10% of the land area of the state, while the tribal people who constitute 33% of the state population live on 90% of its geographical area. Their language Meiteilon (also known as 'Manipuri') is also the lingua franca in the state. It was recognized as one of India's national languages in 1992. The Kukis and Nagas live in the hills of the state. The Kukis too have their own kingdoms like the Chahsat, Aisan, Jampi, etc. and were close to the Meitei kings in the plain. The independent existence of the Meitei and Kuki kings can be proved by common practice of calling Kuki village headmens by Meiteis as "Ningthou", which means "King".

Manipur is considered a sensitive border state. Foreigners entering Manipur (including foreign citizens born in Manipur) must possess a Restricted Area Permit which can be obtained from the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office in the "metros" (Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata) or certain other state government offices. Permits are valid for only 10 days, and visitors must travel only on tours arranged by authorised travel agents, in groups of four. Furthermore, they may come to Imphal only by air and will not be permitted to travel outside the capital.

History of Manipur
Loktak Lake Loktak Lake
The earliest references to Manipur date back to the ancient Indian epic Mahabharata, in which several characters, such as Chitrangada, Ulupi, Babruvahana, and Iravan, are Manipuris. But historian have established the fact that the Manipur of Mahabharata is not related with the kingdom of Manipur. The documented history of Manipur, however, begins from 33 CE. It has been ruled by a total of more than 109 kings and known by different names at various periods in its history, such as, Tilli-Koktong, Sanna-Leipak, Mitei-Leipak, Poirei-Lam, Meitrabak or 'Manipur' (present day). The legendary first King of 'Manipur' who made Kangla his capital was Lord Pakhangba who ruled the kingdom from 33 CE.
Manipur also has its own traditional way of living, which is also one of the oldest of the region. Sanamahism was followed by the Meetei community and some related communities of Manipur. Later, it got influenced by Hinduism. Then in the 19th century with the arrival of the British, many tribal people were converted to Christianity.
Maharaja Bhagyachandra (1762 - 1798 A.D.), is another famous king of 'Manipur'. He had to fight off the Burmese several times, once running away to seek refuge with the Ahoms. He started the Ras Lila dance. He is also credited with spreading Vaishnavism in Manipur after his grandfather Pamheiba Rajah made Hinduism the official religion and for creating a unified Manipur.

'Manipur' and Assam became involved in the disputes between Thailand and Burma, and 'Manipur' took advantage of a Burmese invasion of Thailand to raid deep into its western frontier. This triggered the Burmese invasion of 'Manipur' and Assam, which pulled in the British, ruling neighbouring Bengal. The British, to safeguard their position against the Burmese, intervened, defeated Burma and took over Assam, and brought 'Manipur' under British paramountcy in 1891. Thus in 1891 AD, after the defeat of 'Manipur' by the British in the Anglo-'Manipuri' war of Khongjom, Manipur's sovereignty for more than two millennia was lost.

During the Second World War, 'Manipur' was the scene of many fierce battles between the Japanese and Allied forces in the so-called Burma Campaign. The Japanese swept over East Asia and came up to 'Manipur'. They and factions of Indian National Army under command of Subhas Chandra Bose were beaten back by the Allies before they could enter Imphal, proving to be one of the turning points of the War (Central Front 1943/44).

There are two cemeteries maintained by the British War Graves Commission in 'Manipur', which are the final resting places of several Indian and allied soldiers who died here.

On August 28,1947, with British Parliament's repeal of British Paramountcy, in preparation for Indian independence, 'Manipur' became an independent kingdom once again but not for long.

War Cemetery War Cemetery
The King, Maharaja Budhachandra, began a process of democratization of the state, enacting the 'Manipur' Constitution Act, 1947, which established a democratic form of government with the Maharaja as the Executive Head and an elected legislature.

In 1949, the King Budhachandra was invited to Shillong, the capital of the Indian province of Assam, where, after an intense negotiations, he was forced to sign an agreement for annexation of the kingdom into India ( Reference: Merger of Manipur, Col. H. Bhubhon Singh). The King had already signed a Standstill Agreement with the Indian Dominion in 1947; the Standstill Agreement froze the status quo, i.e., the Indian Union as the de facto Paramount Power over and above the King.

Once 'Manipur' became part of the Indian Union, India dissolved the State's Constitution Assembly in October, 1949, and made it into a part C state. Later on it was further degraded to the status of a union territory from 1956 onwards. A separatist movement has been active in Manipur since 1964 with the establishment of the United Liberation Front, several groups have used violence to achieve their goal of a sovereign Manipur. Beside this, there have been demands by the tribal people to divide the present state into two or three Indian states. Foreign travellers to Manipur must gain special permission to enter, as it is considered a "sensitive area" due to its political troubles and geographical location.

In 1972, Manipur was elevated to the status of a state.
The history of Manipur may be divided into four main periods: (i) The Ancient (before Christ), (ii) The early period (1st-13th AD), (iii) The Medieval period (15-18th AD) and (iv) The Modern (19-20th Century AD).

Problems facing Manipur
The implementation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in 1958 resulted in the designation of Manipur as a "disturbed area" . There have been some minor border disputes with Myanmar (formerly Burma), which were resolved through treaty of Yandaboo. Manipur is also involved in a border dispute with Nagaland.

There have been many social upheavals in the recent past, resulting in mounting tensions between the Meiteis (the valley people) and the so called Nagas residing in Manipur.

Some steps have been taken by the central government to appease the Manipuris. The long-standing demand to include the Meitei language in the 8th schedule was finally granted by the 71st amendment of the Constitution in 1992.

November 20, 2004 was a landmark date in the history of Manipur when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh fulfilled a long-standing demand of the Manipuri people. He officially handed over the historic Kangla Fort to Manipur state government, which issued an ordinance taking over the administration and control. It had been the headquarters of the paramilitary force, the Assam Rifles, since 1915. It was finally opened to the general public after nearly 114 years.

Govindajee Temple Govindajee Temple
The fight by the people of Manipur to let the government hand over the fort to them was legendry. The Indian army is alleged to kill some innocent peoeple without issuing arrest warrant, which turned into a major issue, with some women protesting naked in front of the Assam Rifle's gate in June 16, 2004.

The Prime Minister also upgraded Manipur University into a Central University and laid the foundation stone for a 97.9 km long, Jiribam - Imphal, broad gauge rail line project. The line ends at Tupul, 25 km away from Imphal.

United National Liberation Front (UNLF), one of the largest and most powerful terror organisations, has resorted to violence to achieve its goal of an independent Manipur.


Ordinary Manipuris are growing tired of the rebels influence. Several insurgent groups increasingly issue diktats and rulings on moral and social behaviour, enforced with the threat of violence. Extortion is also rampant in Manipur. Most professions are forced to pay the rebels regular sums of money that are locally called 'tax'.