Prabhakara's parting shot

Prabhakara's parting shot
by Iboyaima Laithangbam
The Imphal Free Press
Feb 04 2010

So M.S. Prabhakara, has eventually left the North Eastern region for good. It must have been an excruciatingly painful moment for him who had spent over 42 years of his life in the region. It was on the day of his departure from Guwahati that I read his article in The Hindu which was published three days earlier. My attention had been drawn to this article by a general discussion in a stag party. I made a point to skim read the article. I did not think it proper to read a friend's write up with mistrust, suspicion and with the objective of finding loopholes and infractions.

From the general discussion and my cursory reading of the article two points struck me. What is more I had a single line discussion on it with Prabhakara himself while his taxi had revved up engine for dropping him at the airport. His article gave me the impression that the merger of Manipur to the independent India on October 15, 1949 was preceded by the presence of the political agents, etc in Manipur and it means, so I had gathered, Manipur was not a an independent kingdom in the real sense of the term. On this issue Prabhakara said that people in Manipur are saying it. I am sure he must have interacted with persons who want that Manipur had been a part of India from the very beginning. It does not come as a complete surprise to me since many psuedo scholars maintain that the Manipuris are Aryans simply because Arjuna had married Chittangrada said to be a princess of Manipur. Nothing is known about her or some others with Sanskritised names. There is well founded contention that these men and women were invented by those persons who want to convert the Manipuris to Aryans. Manipur of those days was in Orissa and our kingdom was known as Manipur only after the advent of Vaishnavism in the 18th century. Secondly, how come we became Aryans simply because Arjuna, for argument's sake let us concede it, had married a girl supposed to be princess of Manipur. They were not Adam and Eve. If a Sikh marries a Manipuri girl now will all of us become Sikhs ? Because at the time of Arjuna's supposed marriage Manipur had a well established society. The persons already there could not have been their descedents.

After the 1891 conquest Manipur was brought under the British rule. The presence of a political agent whose nature of works is somewhat akin to the present day ambassador could not mean that Manipur was under the British rule. It is hazardous to take points in some books as gospel truths. One students' organisation had banned a text book as it said that Arjuna had come to Manipur and that we are Aryans. Another person had written a book which has a chaper on the merger ceremony at Shillong. An official who was personally present in the ceremony had in his book pointed out some discrepancies in the dramatis personae of the ceremony. In one article I had suggested to the person to make corrigendum since it concerns history and our posterity. Rather unfortunately the person has refused to do so. In other words the posterity will be confused since there are two different accounts of the merger ceremony.

If the October 15, 1949 merger agreement was not necessary in the real sense of the term a pertinent question may be asked as to whether the independent India would have undergone the rigmarole and drudgery of preparing the merger agreement, keep the Manipur's titular king under house arrest at Shillong for armstwisting him to sign on the dotted lines ? Besides he was merely a titular head who could do nothing without the approval of the elected body. Anti-merger persons say that as the merger was never discussed or approved by the elected body the document signed by the titular head is null and void and as such the merger is untenable.

If we accept the oversimplifcation of the rather complex legal and constitutional dimesions of the merger issue, by inference, we are telling the extremists that their armed movement for independence has no basis. But the fact is that Manipur's armed movement of different genre. The extremist leaders say that they are not demanding ceding of Manipur from India but merely restoration of independence which was wrested. Whatever may have been the relations of Manipur with the British Indian government before India's independence it should not be forgotten that the Britishers had restored independence to all princely states before their departure.

Prabhakara's parting shot might have opened the pandora's box. I hope he regularly surfs the website of the IFP.

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