AN EVALUATION OF INDIAN GORKHAS IN MANIPUR

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history of Gorkhas in Manipur by My kanglatongbi
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Indian Gorkhas (Bhartiya Gorkha), also referred to as Nepali Indians, are Nepali language-speaking Indian citizens.

The term Indian Gorkha is to distinguish the ethnic Gorkha citizens of India and the citizens of Nepal.

Indian Gorkhas are citizens of India as per the Gazette notification of the Govt. of India on the edition- “Citizenship of the Gorkhas of India”

The Nepali language is consolidated in the Eight schedules of the Indian Constitution.

The common language among the Gorkhas is the Nepali language, with its script in Devanagari, also one of the official languages of India.

HISTORY OF GORKHAS IN MANIPUR

Settlement of Indian Gorkha Regiments

AN EVALUATION OF INDIAN GORKHAS IN MANIPUR
Jemadar Pahalman Gurung, Hon Lt & Subedar Major Maniraj Gurung OBI Sirdar Bahadur and a Havildar Major, Malakand 1939

Two centuries ago, The British East India Company accredited Nepali Gurkhas who had fought with grit and fearlessness, despite suffering the war. 

They recruited the Gurkhas in British-Indian Forces. 

Afterward, they trained the First battalion of the Indian Gurkha Regiment in 1816. 

Gorkhas settlement in Manipur can be traced back to 1819 at the outset when Maharaja Gambhir Singh (1825-1834) was about to be ascended as the King of Manipur. 

Maharaja Gambhir Singh SoulverZ
Maharaja Gambhir Singh. Courtesy: History Plus+

Indian Gorkhas were acknowledged to be a tough combatant back in the days, and that has always represented the attributes of a Gorkha till this date. 

The 16th Sylhet Local Battalion (present 8th Gorkha Rifles) was recruited in the Police Levy of King Gambhir Singh in 1824.  

He raised an army to secure Manipur and enlisted Gorkhas from the Sylhet Battalion in 1825 to be called the “Victoria Paltan”.  

The terminology is a strong implication of the preponderance of Gorkhas in the army as the word “paltan” is derived from the English word Platoon which origins from the 17th Century, the French word “Peloton.”

Additionally, having earned the trust of the British, Gorkha soldiers were comprehensive to guard all the Political Representatives. 

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They were also inducted in as cooks, milkmen, traders, and agriculturists.

The East India Company assigned the 23rd, 43rd, and 44th battalions of the 8th Gorkha Rifles to Manipur in 1880. This led to a significant increase of Gorkha soldiers in Manipur. 

AN EVALUATION OF INDIAN GORKHAS IN MANIPUR
8 Gurkha Rifles

In general, the settlement was presumed in 1885 when 600 Gorkha soldiers from Golaghat and Silchar were sent to Manipur thereby raising the number in the reign of Maharaja Chandrakriti (1850-1886). 

The 2nd Gorkha Rifles stationed at Imphal were deployed for combat somewhere in Europe. 

They were replaced by the Darang Military Police in 1915 that got converted into the 4th Assam Rifles in 1917. 

Almost 80% of the personnel were Gorkhas in the 4th Assam Rifles.

This led to the majority of the Gorkhas on active service settled in Manipur permanently after their retirement. 

Additionally, The British government also granted land to the soldiers of the 4th Assam Rifles in Thangmeiband and later in special colonies like Chink, Tangri, Kalapahar, Eroishemba, Torbung in CC Pur, Maram, Imphal, Irang, and Kanglatongbi.

After World war II, numerous personnel from Subhas Chandra Bose’s INA also made Manipur their home.

Settlement of Non-Soldier Indian Gorkhas (Civilian) 

The non-soldiers or civilian Gorkha people primarily arrived with their cattle like buffaloes and Cows. 

They were authorized to settle down with their herds, thereby progressing their livelihood around the capital. 

Their settlement process could be validated vide a diary report of then Politician agent of Manipur, Maj. H St. Maxwell from 4-10 October 1891. 

After the death of Late Maharaja Churachand on 16 November 1941, his eldest son Bodhchandra was honored as the king of Manipur from 1941-1955.

During his reign, he married a Nepali Princess, Iswari Devi on 18 June 1941. 

She was the eldest daughter of Prince Ram Raja of Ramnagar who was a cousin of then His Majesty Maharaja Dhiraj, the King of Nepal. 

Iswari Devi was also a cousin sister of Nepali Brigadier, Kali Bahadur of the Royal Nepal Army whose troops of Gorkhas fought in Manipur during the second world war, along with the British against the Japanese. 

There were 60 Nepalese assistants who accompanied Maharani Iswari Devi on her arrival in Manipur and were resided in Kanglatongbi. 

Historical Pronouncement to settle the Gorkhas by Manipur Government

 (Extract from- Manipur State Administrative Report 1915-16 Chapter – V, No. 2 Para V. Durbar Resolution 1 dated 17th February 1915)

The Govt of Manipur decided to shift the Gorkhas to the northern part of the Manipur Valley by creating a Gorkha/Nepali reserve that was 18 miles long in between Sekmai and Kanglatongbi in 1915. 

This was protracted notably to Maram, Siddim Pukhri, and lrang Part-I & II.

With the development of the Sekmai-Kanglatongbi Gorkha Grazing Reserve, many of the Gorkhas began to live within the reserve areas in places like Keithelmanbi, Kangpokpi, Sapermeina, Kalapahar, Santolabari, Irang, Chandraman, Maram, Siddim Pukhri, Pashpati. 

The review of the Gorkha/Nepali Reserve was approved with effect from 19th June 1918 to 7th January 1920, Patta was issued for the grazers who appealed for agricultural land. 

Similarly, on the 31st July 1950, The Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship was signed by the Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Chandreshwar Narayan Singh, and Prime Minister of Nepal, Mohan Shamsher Jang Bahadur Rana in Kathmandu.

This treaty authorizes the free passage of citizens of both countries crossways the border without any passport or visa. 

Nationalities of both the countries can live and work in either nation as-well-as as indulge in any legal trade and business.

This treaty was implemented when the Prime Minister of India was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

 It was executed with a view to strengthening India’s position in Defense and Foreign Affairs.

Indian Constitution and the Gorkhas

As per the Government of India Ministry of Home Affairs Gazette Notification no. 26011/6/88-ICI dated 23 August 1988, Indian Gorkhas are citizens of India
(Indra Misra, Joint Secretary to the Government of India, on the Issue of Citizenship of Gorkhas).

This states as from the commencement of the Constitution, that is from 26-01-1950, every Gorkha who had his domicile in the territory of India, that is, in the territories which on 26-1-1950 became part of or constituted the territory of India as defined in Article-1 (2) of the Constitution of India, and

 (a) Who was born in the territory of India or

 (b) Either of whose parents were born in the territory of India.

 (c) Who had been ordinarily resident in the territory of India for not less than five years before such commencement shall be a citizen of India as provided in Article 5 of the Constitution of India. 

(2) No such person as is referred to in paragraph (1) above shall be a citizen of India or be deemed to be a citizen of India if he has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of any foreign State, as provided in Article 9 of the Constitution of India.

(3) Every person who is a citizen of India at the commencement of the Constitution as aforesaid shall continue to be such a citizen subject to the provision of any law that may be made Parliament as provided in Article 10 of the Constitution of India.

(4) The provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Rules and orders made there-under shall apply to the persons referred to in paragraph (1) after the commencement of the Constitution.

The population of Gorkhas in Manipur

As per the 2011 census, Tehsils with the largest proportion of Nepalis are 

  • Sadar Hills West (33.0%), 
  • Saitu-Gamphazol (9.54%), and 
  • Lamshang (10.85%). 

Districts with the major population of Nepalese are 

  • Senapati – 39,039 (8.15%), 
  • Imphal West – 10,391 (2.01%) and 
  • Imphal East – 6,903 (1.51%).

The preceding censuses calculated the number of Nepali speakers in Manipur:

1961 Census13,571
1971 Census26,381
1981 Census37,046
1991 Census46,500
2001 Census45,998
2011 Census63,756

 

Some parts of hills in Kanglatongbi and places of Senapati were occupied by the Nepalese Grazers before 1st December 1946 and at that point in time, there were no tribal communities living in these areas.

Panchayati Raj in Indian Gorkhas of Manipur

Panchayat system soulverz

Panchayati Raj was extended within the Gorkha/Nepali reserve area.

The Political representatives steered the Panchayati Raj system in the Gorkha reserve area, especially in Kanglatongbi and Kangpokpi. 

It was intended as a term consisting of 5 members and one President (Pradhan) in each of the Panchayat who were kept under the judicial affiliate of the Manipur Durbar. 

In the history of Manipur, by Jyotirmoy Roy, Vice president of DM college, Imphal, in the second edition, 4 June 1973 mention that, 

It was directed in such that every panchayat exercised having an assigned watchman (chowkidar) to sustain and serve their respective panchayats. 

They were also given a copper plate (chapras) with a number coding, such as Chowkidar of Kangpokpi was 209, Kanglatongbi was 297, and Irang part II was 01. 

Gorkhas in Civil Police of Manipur. 

The Manipur Civil Police was under the direct supervision of the King. 

They constitute of 1 sub-Inspector, 4 head constables, 2 writer Constables, and 24 constables. 

Out of the 4 head constable, 1 was Gorkha, and the other three Meiteis, the constables were armed with batons.

To preserve Law and Order in the Gorkha settlement areas, there was one outpost under the Gorkha Head constable of civil police of Manipur. 

Certain taxes have in levied and settled through the state police in 1897. 

However, it was decided in that year that the land revenue office should commence the tax collection. 

This commencement was further reformed in 1903 when it was decided to retain a special Mouzadar to collect the grazing taxes. 

That led to an appointment of RB Rai Bahadur Gopal Singh, a retired Gorkha Army Subedar Major. 

Consequently, two more mauzadar, RB SM Jitraj Limbu and Durlab Singh Chhetri were appointed. 

One Subedar Hem Chand Singh Chhetri of 44th Gorkha Rifles (now 8th Gorkha Rifles) who was appointed as mauzadar, died in the year 1881 has a memorial constructed for his valor in Kangla still exists.  

Sacrifices of Gorkhas for defending the Sovereignty of Manipur.

Niranjan Singh Chhetri My Kanglatongbi
Courtesy: Chandra Sekhar Poudyal

On 2nd May 1891- Subedar Niranjan Singh Chhetri left the British Army to join the Manipur force charged by Prince Tikendrajit and Gen. Thangal.

He was arrested for instigating a war against the British to defend the sovereignty of Manipur and was hanged on 8th June 1891. 

This proves that the Gorkhas in Manipur have sacrificed lives for defending and protecting the dignity of Manipur. 

Where do the Gorkhas live in Manipur? 

The places where the Gorkhas in Manipur are settled are: 

  • Kanglatongbi 
  • Kangpokpi 
  • Serou (Sugnu) 
  • Mantripukhri 
  • Kangpokpi
  • Kalapahar
  • Koirengei 
  • Senapati
  • Saikul and Pukhao
  • Iroisemba 
  • Kabru Leikha 
  • Khundrakpam 
  • Ukhrul 
  • Leimakhong 
  • Motbung and Charhajare 
  • Irang Pt I & II.

CONCLUSION 

Indian Gorkhas in Manipur are Bonafide domicile of Manipur and are citizens of India. 

However, they are not the indigenous people from Manipur. 

They came from Nepal, and other parts of India who got settled and are living till this date in harmony, peace, and respect to Manipur.  

Bravery, loyalty, and honor have made them, the toughest combatant in the world as exemplified by their motto, Kafar Hunu Bhanda Marnu Ramro” which translates as Better to die than live like a coward. 

The Present days Gorkhas are born and brought up in Manipur. 

It is also apparent that the King of Manipur did not congregate to have any blood relationship between Meitei’s or Naga and Kuki with the Gorkhas.

As a domicile of the State and Citizens of India, Gorkhas of Manipur can contest elections and take part in all political, economic, social, cultural, and developmental works in Manipur. 

SOUL

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