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The Boundaries of Manipur

Chapter IV

The Southern Boundary

The Lushai Frontier :

The Lushais inhabited the country southwest of Manipur. They invariably created troubles to the inhabitants, bordering to that frontier territory of Manipur. The Government of Manipur took all pains to drive them out of that frontier.1

In July 1853 the Lushais made an attack on the Kamai Naga Village, in the territory of Manipur, and killed eleven persons, made twenty-two captives and burnt down the whole village.2 After having destroyed the above village they again descended on the Manipur Thanna in the Kala Naga Village. On their approach the guards of the Thanna fled abandoning the village. When the news reached Manipur, Chandrakirti Singh sent a large Manipuri force in that direction to intercept their further advance. In the encounter they made with the raiders, the Manipuri troops captured Belging Raja, one of the great chiefs of the Lushais, together with others. Since Belging Raja was a person of great consequence, the Political Agent suggested that the Manipur subjects who had been captured recently from the above village, might possibly be recovered through him. The Lushai Chief also expressed his confidence that if his villagers were informed ofhis capture, the Manipuri prisoners would be handed over to Manipur in exchange for his and the other Lushai captives’ release. With this object in view, two of the Lushai captives were escorted upto the Kala Naga villge and thence dispatched to their village. The two Lushais, before leaving for their village, promised that they would be back at Kala Naga in six week’s time and begged the officer, who escorted them, to be present there by that time. However, they never came back.3 When the liberated Lushais did not come to Manipur as promised Belging Raja and the other captives gave up their hopes of being ransomed by their co-villagers and, therefore, attempted to escape. They managed their escape, but three of them were killed while running through the hills and Belging Raja was found close by and he was brought back, once again, to Manipur.

Subsequent to the above proceedings Chandrakirti Singh desired to send an expedition against the Lushais. McCullock, the Political Agent also concurred in the opinion of the Raja. By that time the Lushais, though aware of the fact that Belging Raja was a prisoner in Manipur, and that the Raja of Manipur wished to make a deal with them, suddenly came down to the valley of Manipur and attacked the village of Solyang, near Moirang in October 1854. When the news of this unprovoked attack reached Cachar, the Superintendent of that districts desired to establish communication with the Lushai for a peaceful settlement with Manipur and invited co-operation from the Political Agent of the State.4 McCullock begged Chandrakirti Singh to send Belging Raja with him so that he might be able to send message to the Lushais, through the above Superintendent to the effect that the Government of Manipur was always ready to negotiate with them. The Raja sent Belging Raja with the Political Agent but to no purpose. Though Chandrakirti Singh, on his part, desired to settle the Lushai problems permanently, the latter never extended friendly offers. Under these circumstances, the Government of India also did not intend to act as an arbiter and as such the Lushai problem remained unsoled.5

In November 1862, the Lushais renewed their attack on certain Naga villages under the territorial jurisdiction of Manipur. By that time a large party of Manipuris from Cachar, under Kanhai Singh, a refugee prince of Manipur at Cachar, assembled near the eastern frontier of Cachar and tried to invade Manipur. The Lushais, after burning down the tea gardens of Loharbund in towards Manipur along with Kanhai Singh.6 But their advance was intercepted by the Manipuri troops before they could reach the Manipur Valley. In early February 1869 they made another attack on the Kala Naga stockade and killed one Manipuri officer and some other sepoys.7 Though a contingent of Manipuri troops was immediately sent there they could not reach the stockade in time mainly due to bad communication and weather. The Lushais, therefore, after plundering the surrounding villages made their escape.8

McCullock was successful in influencing the Eastern Lushais under Vanolei, whom he induced to come to terms with Manipur and establish friendly relations with the State. Subsequently, friendly relations had been established between the above Lushais and the Ladoes and the Kuki Nagas, in the territory of Manipur. These naga subjects of Manpur thus began to use the hunting grounds of the Lushais, in the neighbourhood of the salt spring of Chiboo.9 But in the spring of 1870, the Lushais lost seven of their men, at the above place, in an affray with some Ladoes. This incident, once again, destroyed the friendly relations. It was generally believed that the bad feeling, thus established, between the Manipuris and Lushais were, principally, due to the incapacity of the Political Agent at Manipur. If the Agent ws keen enough to establish a strong force at Chiboo, it was probable that the Eastern Lushai Chiefs would not have dared commit such raids on the frontier of Manipur.





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