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Before dealing with the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891, it is worthwhile to examine the political status of Manipur before 1891. The intimate connection between the British and Manipur began on the eve of the outbreak of the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824-1826). Immediately before this war, Manipur which was an ancient independent Kingdom, became a Burmese colony consequent on the defeat of the Manipuris by the Burmese in 1819.

The Manipuri princes who were taking shelter in Cachar were taken by the British to Sylhet (now in Bangladesh), their Headquarters and kept them under their protection. The British Government entered into an understanding with Gambhir Singh to drive out the Burmese from Manipur. At the same time, Gambhir Singh accepted the British protection While he was living at sylhet under the British protection he received Rs. 300/- as an allowance per month from the British Government. His acceptance of the British protection was clearly mentioned by him when he submitted a representation to Mr. Tucker, Commissioner of Sylhet.

He stated that he could manage with the monthly allowance of Rs. 300/- during the peace time. But as he was engaged in war with the Burmese with the help of the British Government the allowance of Rs. 300/- was not sufficient. He, therefore, pleaded for the increase of the allowance as was done in the case of those Rajahs who were under the protection of the British Government as Gambhir Singh was also "similarly situated." He further stated that his best endeavour should be exerted in the cause of British Government.

Gambhir Singh also submitted another representation to Mr. Tucker, the Commissioner of Sylhet stating that allowance should also be given to Nursing Senapatty, who was his cousin. Nursingh himself had recently distinguished in the engagement wih the Burmese in presence of Mr. Scott. Gambhir Singh further asserted that he could do nothing without Nursing as the latter was in charge of the home affairs of Manipur.

Mr. Tucker, Commissioner of Sylhet recommended the increase of allowance of Rs. 200/- per month for Gambhir Singh, Rs. 100/- per month as the allowance for Nursingh, Rs. 30/- as the expense for three elephants and Rs. 15/- per month as the allowance for one Muhurror to keep accounts.

The First Anglo-Burmese War came to en end by the Treaty of Yandabo signed on February 24, 1826. Regarding Manipur it was provided in Article Second of the Treaty that "with regard to Manipur it is stipulated that, should Gambhir Singh desire to return to that country, he shall be recognised by the King of Ava as Rajah thereof."

The Political status of Manipur after 1826 had been taken as that of 'dependent state' by the British Government. Gambhir Singh died in 1834. On his death Nursingh placed Chandrakirti Singh, son of Gambhir Singh on the throne of Manipur. As Chandrakirti Singh was minor, Nursingh himself declared as regent. Monther of Chandrakirti Singh made an attempt at killing Nursingh. The plot failed. The widow with her son Chandrakirti Singh fled to Cachar. Nursingh occupied the throne. On the death of Nursingh in 1850, Chandrakirti came from Cachar and accepted the throne of Manipur.

Chandrakirti wanted that his succession should be recognised by the Government of India Before recognition was given, the Govt, of India directed the Political Agent in Manipur to explain the position of Manipur in relation with the British Government to Chandrakirti. It was to be explained that Manipur State existed because of the British Government. As for the internal administration the Manipur State was given independence.

However, the Government of India would not tolerate if Manipur State extended any support to any anemies or rebellious subjects of British Government. The Political Agent in Manipur was to satisfy himself that Chandrakirti had no intention or thought of extending support to any parties which were hostile to the British Government. On the other hand, Chandrakirti should express his desire to render help and co-operation to the British Government in any measures meant for maintaining peace and good order on the frontier of Assam.

Chandrakirti was recognised by the Government of India in 1851 as the Raja of Manipur, and the public declaration was made by the Political Agent in Manipur to the effect that the Government of India would uphold Chandrakirti and any attempt to dispossess him would be resisted and the persons making such attempts would be accordingly punished.

The Court of Directors of the East India Company in London regarded the position taken by the Government of India in relation to Manipur as 'pledged protectors' of the Raja of Manipur. They directed the government of India to exercise a sufficient check on the general administration of Manipur. This exercise was to aim at preventing the Raja of Manipur from becoming oppressive to his people. This control was to discard any attempt at discrediting the Government oflndia by the act of Maharaja. They gave also a warning to the Government of India to avoid needless interference in the internal administration of State of Manipur. The control over the internal administration of the Raja was the price of the protection given to him by the Government of India.

Chandrakirti Singh of Manipur came to Cachar to meet Lord Northbrook in 1874. He presented NAZZAR to Lord Northbrook. Chandrakirti Singh was formally received by Lord Northbrook on the 12th August, 1874 and in return Chandrakirti Singh received a KHILLAT from Lord Northbrook. In the address which Chandrakirti Singh made in the Darbar on the 1st January, 1877 he admitted his own position as that of the other Feudatory States of India.

In connection with the borders problems between Burma and Manipur, the Government of India sent a telegram to Mr. Bernard of Burma on the 6th February, 1882 regarding the fresh inroads from Burmese territory into Manipur. In the telegram it was distinctly stated that Manipur was a State under protection of British Government.10 As Manipur was the protectorate State, the Mandalay must either exert its authority in Kubo Valley effectively to prevent and punish the raids or Mandalay must distinctly disown responsibility, the British Government was to take other measures to preserve order in the Kubo Valley.

At the time of the Boundary Commission of 1881, the Government of India directed the Burmese Administration to point out to the Court of Burma that they must realize that Manipur was for international purposes the same to the Government of India as British India.11 Colonel Johnstone, Boundary Commissioner and Political Agent in Manipur was requested by the frontier officials of Burma to send Manipuri officials to discuss the Kongal case. Johnstone told the Burmese officials that Manipuri Durbar had no power to enter into any negotiations direct with the Burmese officials. He pointed out that all communications between Burmese Officials and Manipuris should go through the Political Agent in Manipur.

Chandrakirti Singh was also compelled to do or to abstain from doing certain things. The Maharaja was not to obstruct trade between Manipur and British territory. He should not impose heavy duties or create monopolies. He was instructed not to supply arms to hill tribes which were hostile to the British Government. He was also not to disburb the frontier by committing acts of aggression against the hill tribes lying beyond Manipur. He was not to oppress his subjects. He should also not allow his subjects to oppress British subjects.

The Maharaja was required to maintain the road from the confines of the Cachar district to Manipur. He was compelled to supply labour to the British Government whenever demanded. It was his duty to punish officers of his State, officers in his Army and others who committed acts of atrocities. He was to punish those persons who committed such acts of atrocities within the jurisdiction of the State of Manipur. In case of emergency when a call was made from the Raja of Manipur, it was his bounden duty to render help with his troops to the British Government.

Chandrakirti Singh had shown twice his loyalty to the British Government. In the first instance he sent his troops with Sir James Johnstone, the Political Agent in Manipur for the rescue of the beleaguered garrison of Kohima. For the second time, Chandrakirti Singh sent his tropps under the command of Sir James Johnstone, the Political Agent in Manipur during the last Burmese War in 1885-86 to rescue the Eoeupoeans in the Kabo Valley.14 As a result of the services rendered by him he was decorated with the title of K.C.S.I. by the British.

Chandrakirti Singh attempted to act independently. He went to the extent of insulting the British Officers. He was, however, punished. A KHARITA of rebuke was addressed to him. By this the Viceroy distinctly asserted the suzerantly of the British Government on Chandrakirti Singh. In return of the Kharita of rebuke, the Maharaja begged the pardon of the British Government to whom the Maharaja 'owed all he had'.


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