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The Boundaries of Manipur

Chapter 1

The Jiri Frontier

The western boundary of Manipur was not properly defined. The territorial possession of the state, as given in treaty of 1763, extended upto the Brahmaputra Valley1, There is also ample evidence to show that even on the eve the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826) the Manipuri Princes Chourjit Sinigh, Marjit Singh and Gambhir Sjugh occupied the whole of south Cachar.  Since early 1827, Gambhir Singh (1826-1834 ) the then Raja of Manipur made steady penetration into the area west of the Barak river. This region abounds in excellent timber besides valuable ivory, wax, grass and bamboos2.  Gambbir Singh nourished the desire of annexing that territory to Manipur and brought various Naga clans that occupied this tract under his authority.

In 1828, on a complaint lodged by Govindchandra, the Raja of Cachar, against Gambhir Singh, Mr. Tucker, the then Commissioner of Sylhet, called upon the Raja of Manipur to explain his conduct. But Gambhir Singh rejected the claim that the Barak had every formed the line of demaracation between Manipur and Cachar. He explained that he had merely brought the independent Nagas under his sphere of influence3. A few months later he occupied an Ilaka known as Chandrapur and constructed houses for the settlers from his territory. When he was asked by the Commissioner to remove the Manipuris from the Ilaka he claimed it as an inheritance4. Gambhir Singh’s inability to present documentary evidence and the intervention of Mr. Scott, Agent to the Governor-General, under advice from the Supreme Government dismissed his claim on the Ilaka. The Agent wrote to the Government that Gambhir Singh could not be considered to hold the Ilaka ofChandrapur even should it be true, as he alleged that it was granted to his father5. The Agent, however, was of the opinion that it might be expedient that the Raja of Manipur should be given some other small tract of land in Cachar for the purpose of settling a few of his followers with a view to the safe custody and transport of military stores between Sylhet and Manipur6. The proposal received the concurrence of the Governor-General in Council and it was observed that if necessary Gambhir Singh should be required to pay a fair and reasonable compensation either directly to Govindchandra or through the British Government7. The Raja of Cachar objected strongly to make over to Gambhir Singh any part of the territory for the purpose of erecting a magazine as suggested by the Agent. But ultimately he agreed to cede such a tract to Government for fifteen years after which it had to be renewed, if necessary8.

Shortly after the acquisition of the above tract Gambhir Singh set up a police establishment at Chandrapur and encouraged its Thannadar directly and indirectly to commit acts of aggression9. he also began to interfere indirectly in the internal politics of Cachar which had naturally provoked the wrath of the agent to the Governor General, who in a private letter asked him to desist from such proceedings. However, these remonstrances hardly produced any change in the attitude of the Raja of Manipur10.

In the meantime the authority of Govindchandra had been challenged in Cachar by his formidable rival – Tularam. Although the early relatins between Govindchandra and this chief were on the whole cordial, Tularam later on shook off the allegiance of the Raja of Cachar and joined hands with his father in the hills of North Cachar. The Arzee of this chief shows that Govindchandra had murdered his father and uncle and had caused some of his people to be overpowered and put in irons11. The Raja of Cachar treated him (Tularam) as an usurper and ridiculed him as the son of a slave girl12. Tularam on the otherhand, aided by his two cousins, Govindram and Durgacharan, caused much alarm to the Raja13.

The enmity of Gambhir Singh and Tularam made the position of Govindchandra insecure. The situation was further aggravated by his oppressive measures and with the strained relations with his Cachari subjects whom the deprived off the loaves and fishes of the State. To make his administration efficient the Raja had to employ a large number of officers from the southern part of Bengal and dismissed the greater number of his Cachari subjects who had offended many of his kith and kin. The latter being highly dissatisfied fled to Jaintia, Comilla and Tipperah and some joined hands with Tularam14.





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