By Budha Kamei
The Nupi Lan is a land-mark event in the history of Manipur. Nupi Lan not only does represent one of the popular agitation which fought against an extremely exploitative form of socio-economic and political system executed by the joint feudalistic-colonial rule but also was a movement influenced and to a certain extent supported by the emerging educated elite for political reforms in Manipur. Some say, it marked a dividing line between the oppressive economic and administrative policies followed by the Maharaja and the Political Agent, and a new Manipur which emerged out of the Nupi Lan.
Materials and Method: The present study has adopted purely historical approach based on available primary and secondary sources. It depends mainly on secondary sources of published works. Primary source consists of only administrative reports for the state of Manipur.
Right from historical time, the Manipuri women always played a very important role in Manipuri society. Unlike in other contemporary Hindu society, the Manipuri women held a key position in social and economic activities of the state. In Imphal, the state capital, there was a market, Khwairamban Bazar or Sana Keithel located in the British reserve area. It was the centre of economic activities of the state, where most of the traders had their godowns and shops at the Sadar. The term Sadar is coined by the British for administrative and convenience, which stands for Selected Area Development Administrative Region. Maxwell bazaars were located in this complex. Inside the market complex, there were a large number of vendors dealing in varieties of local products such as rice, fresh vegetables, tobacco, dry fish, salt, oil, baskets, cloth etc. (Brown 2001:90) Over two thousand women occupied regular stalls while an even larger number sit outside the sheds as occasional hawkers. No man except the hill men and white men/Europeans were allowed to enter the market and indeed all the buying and selling was conducted by women. (Dun 1975:64) R. Brown wrote that “A certain number of the Raja’s house servants, called Haomacha, ten in number, daily visit this bazaar, and take from the women enough food to meet the Maharaja’s need for a day.” (2001:91) There was another weekly market, state police bazaar which was located near the State military police line, the present campus of Manipur State Road Transport Corporation. It was, however, opened only when the Khwairamban bazaar was closed. The market was closely associated with the political life of the State. These tradeswomen of bazaar were known for their relatively less sophisticated but fearless and frank nature. Because of their constant exposure to various socio-economic and cultural cross currents they became a well informed and conscious group, in times of crisis they always used to respond to the problem. In other words, to them this market place served as the venue of social and political interaction. Therefore, the high status accorded to the womenfolk by the society is regarded as one of the greatest prides of Manipur. But, the Khwairamban bazaar was controlled by the outside traders and local businessmen, and therefore, women were always interested in developing an alternative business centre.
Rice was and is the staple crop of Asia not exception in Manipur. In Manipur, rice provided a means of livelihood not merely to the farmers but also to the womenfolk. The major industry in which the women also take part was the rice trading business. Their involvement in this trade was enormous that they participated right from the time of the transplantation up to the selling of the final product. E. W Dun wrote, “It would be difficult to find a more industrious woman in India than the Manipuri.”(1981:17) Such an advantages position enjoyed by them was seriously disturbed after the introduction of the colonial administrative system. It is a fact that the only objective of the colonial administration was to strengthen their economic position by exploiting the traditional system of the people. This policy/practice was adopted by the British in every colonial state.
The insensitivity of colonial masters in Manipur to the people’s sentiments could not but invite protests and challenges. In 1904, just fourteen years after the annexation of Manipur, Colonel Maxwell the then Political Agent and Superintendent of the state attempted to reintroduce the Lallup system, force labour which was abolished by the Indian Government in 1892 and forced the male folk of Imphal to reconstruct the burnt down Bungalows of Captain Nuttal, the tutor to the Raja Churachand Singh and Mr. Dunlop the Assistant political agent. He also asked to rebuild the Bungalows with the teak wood from Kabaw valley of Burma. It was a very wrong step taken by the Political Agent. As saviour of the people from danger, the womenfolk of Imphal rose up in protest against the injustice demand of force labour. The agitations and demonstrations of the women had to be dispersed by the use of force but ultimately, the order of rebuild was withdrawn. The womenfolk of Imphal urban area thus achieved what their male folk could not do. The most prominent leaders of this agitation were Smt. Irengbam Ongbi Sanajaobi Devi of Naga Mapal, Lamabam Leikai; Smt. Leishangthem Kwathabi Devi of Thangmeiband; Smt. Irungbam Ningol Leimapokpam Ongbi Dhabali Devi of Wangkhei Ningthem Pukhri Mapal and Smt. Laishram Ningol Juboti Devi of Naga Mapal. (Dena 2008:55-57) This incident was viewed by colonial masters on a wrong way and they concluded that the princes, who had been deprived by their right and privileges under the British rule, were the authors of the movement. J. B. Fuller, Chief Commissioner of Assam expressed unhappiness over this incident arising out of action of Political Agent. Maxwell was transferred from the Political Agency. (Kamei 2012:86) The agitation was better known as the First Nupi Lan in the history of Manipur. “The movement of 1904 was a great landmark in the history of Manipur. Although the duration of the agitation was very short, yet it produced a very good impact on the political and economic life of the state and also paved a way for the future and anti-imperialist movements in the state.” (Joykumar 2002:118) In 1925, it was again womenfolk of Manipur that started widespread agitations against the rise of water tax. Here, it may be pointed out that the tradeswomen of the Khwairamban bazaar led all these agitations, similar to those were to take a leading role in the women’s agitation of 1939-40.
After 1891, Manipur came under direct British rule and it continued up to 1907 when the administration was handed over to Churanchand Singh the Maharaja of Manipur. After the Kuki rebellion of 1917-19, British administration got two main elements which were (1) The Maharaja was responsible for the administration of the state and was assisted by a Durbar, the president of the Durbar, an I.C.S officer of which was selected by the Governor of Assam. The Durbar had at least three Manipuri members. The Maharaja could veto any resolution of the Durbar; but his orders vetoing a resolution of the Durbar had to be submitted to the Political Agent. The Political Agent could refer any matter to the Governor of Assam. (2) The Durbar was the highest original and Appellate court both in civil and criminal cases.
The Hill areas and British reserve area was under the control of the Political Agent, which was beyond the jurisdiction of the Durbar. (Reid 1997:77-78)
The Political Agent continued to rule the hill areas of Manipur after 1907. In 1913, there was a reorganization of the State Durbar and the president of the reconstituted Durbar, an ICS officer was entrusted the administration of the whole hill areas of Manipur who was overburdened with his usual duties in the Durbar. The hill area of Manipur was separated from the general administration of the state on the plea that the hill people were not Manipuris and had entirely different customs and languages. It was the ulterior motive of British administration to create a ‘barrier of a wall’ no only between the hill men and plains men but even among the hill people themselves. The true of the matter was that the people irrespective of case, creed and religion belonged to the same Mongoloid racial stock and their languages were the Tibeto-Burman dialects. By carefully emphasizing inter-tribal disharmonies and superficial differences in term of religion, the British employed the well known policy of ‘divide and rule,’ a policy that played a crucial part in ensuring the stability indeed, the viability of nearly every colonial system. The British colonial masters, however tried to justify their action on the grounds of so called humanitarianism that the dealings of the state with the hill people had been in previous years so cruel as to cause several remonstrance from the Supreme Government and much fiction was caused between political Agent and the State authorities by the efforts of the former to protect the hill people. In short, such a system the colonial masters argued was to save the hill people from the long reign of tyranny and oppression perpetrated by the King of Meitei. (Dena 2008:72-73; Lokendra 1998:39) Thus, in regard to the hill administration, the British assumed the role of saviour minus a redeeming power.
Manipur had a self-sufficient agrarian economy during the pre-colonial period. The advent of British rule after 1891 brought about major structural changes in the economy, which became subservient to the interests of the colonial power. The introduction of private real estate and the monetization of the economy through commercialization of agriculture and taxation strengthened the colonial grip on Manipur. With the opening of links to Cachar, Assam and Dimapur, present Nagaland, large quantity of agricultural and forest produce were exported, effecting prices and local consumption. Alongside, there was an influx of cheap consumer goods manufactured in industrialized Europe and other parts of British India along with the arrival of a trading class, Marwaris. These colonial economic trends and their perpetuation played a crucial role in native deindustrialization. (Kamei 2012:73-74) In addition to the obvious economic cause, there were social, political and religious causes.
The system of Mangba and Sengba (pollution and purity) did become quite rampant after 1920’s when Maharaja Churachand Singh, in collusion with the Brahma Sabha sternly enforced it in Manipur. According to the system any man without any ground or on the flimsiest ground could be declared as Mangba (polluted) by any of the religious authority in the State. The victim along with his family members then would become outcasts. The family would not only be socially boycotted but would not also be allowed to perform any of the customary religious rites and rituals during the period of Mangba. If the excommunicated person was to be taken into normal life, he would have to spend a huge amount in purification (Sengba). Because of the system of Mangba and Sengba, the gaps between the hill men and the plain men were also widened during the first half of the 20th century. The system was so rigid, even the white men/Europeans were treated as Mangba. According to B.C Allen, “the profane foot of a white man must not enter even the compound of a Brahmin, and if he steps on the verandah of an ordinary villager will be instantly abandoned and another erected in its place.” (1980:61) It was the most painful and oppressive system, Mc Donald the then President of Manipur State Durbar (PMSD) called it ‘Plague’. The growth of political consciousness was another cause. In the early 1930s the Manipuri educated middle class emerged as a recognizable social force, began to launch systematic campaigns against various social problems. The greatest achievement of the middle class elites was the establishment of the Nikhil Hindu Manipuri Mahasabha in 1934. Through this organization they tried to get rid of the contemporary socio-economic and religious problems; later on they demanded for a broad political change in Manipur in tune of the developments which were taking place in other British provinces particularly in Assam. Land records were in deplorable state; various taxes were imposed upon the poor people like Kumjashen, Panch Napet, Wakheishen, Chandan Shenkhai etc. Discontentment of the people was very deep, though not laud. People began to lose confidence in the administration of justice in the lower courts. Even in the Revisional Court of the Maharaja, cases were kept pending for years. (Lokendra 1998: 46-47, 115-116, 150-151; see also Manimohon 1989:70-72)
During the first half of the 20th century, the British introduced free trade policy. They used Manipur mainly as a source of rice, cattle and timber and also as a market for manufactured goods of Europe and other parts of British India. John Hurd II in ‘Indian Economics and Social History Review’ wrote that in trade the colonial ruler “pursued a consistent policy of encouraging and facilitating the free movements of goods both within the state and across the state.” (1975:418) In Manipur, it was in the early of 1880s, James Johstone the then Political Agent had induced the Manipur State Durbar to cut the taxes on a number of imports. (2002:111) And there was tremendous development in transport and communication. The construction of a cartable road from Imphal-Dimapur and also the renovation of two bridle paths, namely Cachar road and Imphal-Tamu road made easier to the growth and expansion of both export and import of the State.
The valley of Manipur is fertile for cultivation and rice is the main product. While trade between Manipur and Assam was conducted even before 1891, it was only after 1891 with the introduction of free trade policy that large scale export of rice began. Rice was usually transported by bullock cart to Dimapur and from there it was sent by Indian Railways to different places of British India such as Assam, Punjab and Rajasthan. In 1898-99 the British exported 36,436 maunds of rice. (Administrative Report for the State of Manipur 1898-99:2) It was a sharp increase of 25,230 maunds as compared to that of 1897-98. Then, in 1922-23 the volume of quantity reached 80,000 maunds of rice and in 1923-24 it was 81,370 maunds. (Lokendra 1998:62) After 1925, the Marwaris traders began to take over the monopoly of export industry from the local traders. The quantity of the rice export in 1932 reached 277,389 mounds as against 105,287 mounds in the previous year. In 1925-26 the total area under cultivation was 175,537 acres and in 1938 the total areas was 1, 85,213 acres. The increase was only 10,322 acres. On the other hand, the volume of the export of rice in 1925-26 was 155,014 mounds and in 1938 it was 372,174 mounds before the outbreak of Nupi Lan. (Dena 1991:146) In 1905 as many as 1700 bullock carts were used for trade and commercial activities. But, due to the introduction of lorry the export of rice could be carried on very rapidly. Thus, the volume of the export of rice increased very sharply and it caused a serious economic effect on the normal life of the common people.
The export of rice was carried on under two systems. One was the cart tax and the other was land pass system. Under the first system, free movement of rice was allowed after paying the cart tax and the second system was made through an inter-state agreement. Under the second system, rice was exported to Kohima and Assam Rifles stations in different areas of British India. The state could earn a lot of revenue from the cart tax. Later on the mode of collection of the tax was entrusted to a trading firm and a fixed payment was made half yearly to the State. (Dena 2008:108)
The British Government introduced a new policy of export and import. Outwardly the British encouraged free trade in the State, however in reality they gave the monopoly of external or export trade to the few merchants from the Marwar who were known as Marwaris or Kanias. This community got favour both from the colonial authority and Raja of Manipur. The British did not encourage industrialization. (Kamei 2012:84) The question of rice export from Manipur to outside was closely linked to the growth and consolidation of Marwari capital in Manipur. The Marwari businessmen were settled in the British reserve areas (Sadar bazaar or Paona bazaar and adjoining areas constituted the British Reserve areas) which was beyond the jurisdiction of the state police. People who settled in the reserve were also classified as foreigners. They gradually captured the cotton and handloom trade. Some of the prominent Marwaris were Kasturichand and sons, Ganeshlal, Guru Dayal, Sadasukh, Sanoiram, Kaluram, Gobindlal Chunilal, Khetraj, Suramanj, Dulichand Kundalal etc. (The Lamyanba 1973; see also Lokendra 1998:63) They made further progress when the Maharaja and the Durbar gave them monopoly of cart tax. In 1932, the task of collection of Cart tax revenue was given to one Sardasak Mansuka Roy Saroagi. In 1933, the contract of cart tax was changed from Sardasakh Mansuka Roy Saroagi to Mangolchand Meghraj. In the subsequent year Mangolchand Meghraj earned Rs 33,215 as profit from the cart tax monopoly after paying Rs 73,000 to the State. (Administrative Report for the State of Manipur 1933-34:7) A year later the state had collected Rs 91,250, out of the total amount of Rs 1, 24,865 released by the cart tax monopolist. (Administrative Report for the State of Manipur 1934-35:6) In 1936, Mangolchand Kisturchand got the contract of cart tax and collected Rs. 38,530 and Rs 37, 386 respectively and the State received Rs 59, 000 as cart tax revenue. (Manimohon 2006:165) In contrast to the Marwaris, the Manipuri traders did not play any role in the external trade. Their position was confined to the level of the retail sellers of the bazaar. One of the important factors for crippling character of Manipuri traders was that Manipur did not have an organized trading caste, which could have evolved into modern traders. All the traders in Manipur were retail sellers, who were meant to look after the local consumption needs.
The main items of import from outside were mineral oil, betel-nut, dried fish, cloth etc. Bhattacharya wrote that except for the agricultural products, all the consumption goods were met by imports. (1960:259) Indeed, Manipur became a market for manufactured goods of outside.
The British authorities through the Marwari traders imported a large quantity of Liverpool salt to Manipur through Burma as a result the salt industry in Manipur (manufacture of salt cakes from brine) was greatly affected. The import of Liverpool salt was to compete with the production of the brine wells of the State. Since the imported salt was cheap, the local sellers used to melt the imported salt and gave it the shape and appearance of the local salt so that the people would buy it (Hudson 2011:33) The import trade was also controlled by the Marwaris. All these factors, ultimately led to the decline of the indigenous cottage industries.
The immediate cause of the outbreak of Nupi Lan was directly related to the scarcity of rice and rise of price rate. In 1939, while the world saw the outbreak of the World War II, Manipur witnessed the uprising of its women. Excessive rain during July-August, 1939 severely damaged the standing crops in various parts of the valley. Further heavy rain coupled with a severe hail storm in mid-November had adverse effect upon the harvesting of early paddy (Administrative Report for the State of Manipur1939-40:5) and the incoming grain was less than what was expected. In the mean time, the Marwaris took advantage of the situation and brought up the entire paddy that they could find. Seeing the unusual market situation, Manipur State Durbar, by a resolution, banned the export of rice. However, on 23 September, reversed the former order and permitted the export of rice to Kohima civil station. It would perhaps not be wrong, therefore, to presume that the decision to lift the ban of rice trade by the Durbar was taken under the heavy pressure from the Maharaja, who in turn was pressurized by the cart tax monopolists and merchants. Thus, the export policy of the authority was the main responsible factor for the outbreak of Nupi Lan. Then, the price of the rice went up from Rs 1/12 per maund to Rs 2. The condition became very serious but the traders continued their activities that they purchased the paddy, milled it and exported it outside. As a result, the poorer townsfolk were suffering from loss of their old earnings from husking paddy. It is said that in 1938, there were as many as 48 rice mills, out of which the Marwaris owned 15 and the remaining 33 belonged to the Manipuris.
From 7th December onwards, the women vendors of the Khwairamban bazaar had intensified their efforts of stopping carters from selling paddy to the mill of the Marwari traders. They also asked to the authority for total ban on the export of rice. In spite of all these efforts the situation could not improve. On December 11 just before the outbreak, many small traders had arrived as usual at the Khwairamban bazaar, but there was not even a Miruk of rice for sale. There were about fifty retailers that evening and they were all disappointed to find that there was no rice to buy. A shortage of rice means starvation, because it was impossible to import rice at a price which Manipur could pay. (Reid 1997: 91)
Therefore, on 12 December 1939, the womenfolk came out in several hundreds and began to organize demonstrations in Imphal streets demanding the cessation of export of rice and closure of all rice mills immediately. The most prominent personalities of the agitation were Aribam Chaobiton Devi, Tombimacha Devi, Mongjam Leima Devi, Tongbram Sabi Devi, Ibemhal Devi etc.(Joykumar 2002:141) They marched to the office of the Durbar and demanded for immediate ban on export of rice. Despite such pressures the members of the Durbar could not take a decision because two members of the Durbar including Mr. Sharpe, the president of the Manipur State Durbar (MSD) for export whereas the remaining four were for putting a ban. To compound the problem Raja Churachand Singh as well as Mr. Gimson were unavailable for any sort of advice. All the Durbar members excluding Mr. Sharpe fled through the backdoor of the office in order to avoid crowd. Mr. Sharpe was new to Manipur and the women appealed to him to stop the export of rice. Mr. Sharpe told them that such order required prior approval of Maharaja who was then away to Nabadwip in Bengal. The womenfolk then dragged out physically and accompanied him to the nearby Telegraph office to wire to the Maharaja for stoppage of the export of rice. Not satisfied with this action, the white officer was made to wait the Maharaja’s reply then and there. The commandant of the 4th Assam rifle, Major Bulfied, and the civil surgeon, Major Cummins, who came to the rescue of Mr. Sharpe were also kept inside the compound of the telegraph office. The Telegraph office was in the British Reserve. The siege continued for a number of hours till quite late in the evening. In the meantime some people started throwing stones. It was in such a situation, a platoon of Assam rifle arrived and attempted to clear riotous multitude. At this moment one of the women from the crowd repeatedly shouted Vande Matram and Manipur Mataki Jai. This raised their morale and they became more aggressive and countered the violence of the Sepoys. In the confrontation, twenty-one women were injured by bayonet and gun butts. Out of the twenty-one women, five were seriously injured and later on taken to the Civil Hospital for treatment.(Manimohon 2006:167-169; Tarapot 2005:163-164; Jamini 2009: 48-50) The magnitude and intensity of the women’s agitation can perhaps be judged from the facts that troops had to be called to disperse them and maintain law and order. The firmness of conviction and single mindedness of the women who agitated that day cannot be underestimated, especially in view of the fact that this was achieved without male leadership or participation. This very incident was the beginning of the women’s agitation in Manipur. From the above facts, it can be stated that it was a spontaneous uprising carried out by the market women who had the high degree of consciousness about the economic hardship from the feudal and colonial masters.
The next day a reply came from the Maharaja who authorized Mr. Gimson the Political Agent, to prevent the rice export and then passed an order for the purpose. The women then turn their attention to the rice mills owners extorting written promises that they would not run their rice mills again. In spite of this promise, a mill owner had soaked and boiled some paddy to convert it into par boiled rice at night. On hearing this, the angry women of about ten thousand went to one of the biggest rice mills at Mantripukhri which was beyond Reserve area to see that the electric switches were removed by an order of the political agent.
Only then, the agitated women could be persuaded to go home. The women succeeded in banning the export of rice to outside Manipur.
However, they continued their agitation. From 13 December they called a complete hartal of the Khwairamban bazaar as an expression of protest against violence meted out to them. The Khwairamban bazaar was empty and since that day the boycott continued. The entire business activities of the traders were thoroughly paralyzed.
In the meantime, Neta Irabot who had been to Cachar for campaigning of the Mahasabha returned home on 16 December and reviewed the overall situation particularly the role of the Mahasabha in it. During those days, the Mahasabha was like a divided house; one group led Neta Irabot and the other by Madhop Sharma. The former was more active politically whereas the other group was quite inactive and was hardly interested in confronting the State authorities. (Lokendra 1998: 141) Therefore, Neta Irabot opted out of the Mahasabha and formed a new political organization known as Praja Sanmelini. Nevertheless, with the involvement of Praja Sanmelini men began to take prominent part in the agitation. The main objectives of the party were abolition of colonial and feudal rule and establishment a responsible government in Manipur. A prophecy which stated that “The appointed time had come for the arrival of the new king riding on a white elephant” not only famed the agitation, but also increased the popularity of Neta Irabot Singh because he was seen as the new king of the prophecy.
The situation was calm and quite for sometimes. But, towards the end of December, 1939 the tempo of this movement particularly among the women was further revived. Some carters were seen carrying rice for export. The carts were unloaded and rice bags were thrown into gutters by the women agitators. The carters then lodged a complaint in the court of the political agent with proper identification of the women involved. The office of the political agent then instructed the state police to produce the women for recording their statements. The women leaders mobilized the people who surrounded the police station for several hours. The women alleged that the police Inspector kicked one elderly woman and demanded for the punishment of the Inspector. (Administrative Report for the State of Manipur 1939-40:2) In spite of their continuous demand for the punishment of the Inspector, the Maharaja, who happened to be the father-in-law of the police Inspector Khomdram Dhanachandra Singh, turned a deaf ear and the Inspector was set free.
The following days the Khwairamban bazaar was not opened and public meetings were held to discuss the emerging situation. With the participation of male folk particularly the members of the Praja Sanmilan under the leadership of Neta Irabot, the agitation began to assume a political colour. Neta Irabot finally transformed the agitation into a movement of civil disobedience for political reforms which aimed at the democratization of the political structure of the state. On the 7 January, 1940, a public meeting was organized at the police line Bazaar. In the meeting, Neta Irabot whipped up the mass emotion by saying “Remember the telegraph office incident we begged rice and in return received bayonet wounds and wounds from the gun butts.” On 9 January, 1940, Neta Irabot was arrested under section 124 of the Indian penal code for his inflammatory speeches and a prohibitory order banning all sort of public gathering was imposed on 13 January. (Manimohon 2006:201-205) It was indeed an extremely wise step on the part of the colonial authority to arrest Neta Irabot, because with his charisma, the movement would have become much stronger. After his arrest, the movement was carried on by his followers.
A form of civil disobedience movement then followed, and many people began refusing to pay the feudal dues and taxes. Robert Reid observed, “Though the export of rice was stopped and the mills ceased working, the movement which was fomented by congress elements in Assam, persisted for many months in 1940. (1997:91) Thus, the character of the movement gradually changed to the nature of the freedom movement.
In spite of all these, there was no sign of improvement in the law and order situation of the state. There were no economic activities in Khwairamban bazaar and due to the long absence of market activities the financial position was greatly effected. Mr. Robert Reid the then Governor of Assam asked the Maharaja of Manipur to introduce considerable reforms so that the intensity of the movement could be stopped. On 18 May, 1940, Robert Reid again wrote another letter to Maharaja Churachand Singh and the Durbar in which he mentioned that Maharaja and Durbar could not do much for the welfare of the state. Accordingly, he further suggested that in order to remove the misunderstanding between the administration and people the Maharaja should make a determined effort to control the situation before it worsened. He also advised the Maharaja to make an attempt to regain the confidence of the people. In the meantime, the political agent threatened the womenfolk by saying that if they refused to come to the market he would allot the seat to anyone he chose. But, the women just ignored his threat and submitted a petition to the political agent elaborating their grievances and requesting to fulfill the same. The grievances were specified as: (a) unfitness of present Durbar members, (b) unfitness of police, c) illegal action of police Inspector, (d) conviction of four women beyond constitution, (e) unexpected assault to the innocent public on 14th January 1940 and (f) illegal assault by Dulop Singh, Amin. They made assurance that as soon as these demands were fulfilled they would attend Khwairamban Bazaar. (Sonamani 1976:330) It is thus cleared that the women gradually coming towards a compromise with the authority.
The grievances of the women were not immediately redressed. But, the women certainly made themselves felt. And the boycott itself came to an end with most of the population of Imphal valley fleeing for safety as the World War II did approach Manipur and stopped all talks about constitutional reforms in Manipur. In this way, the Nupi Lan had paved the way for the emergence of the powerful freedom movement in the State and on many occasions the Manipuri women had always demonstrated a rare example of conduct and sacrifice before their male folk. We, the people of Manipur feel proud that we are the sons and daughters/children of those Imas who fought against the extremely exploitative form of socio-economic and political system perpetrated by the combined feudalistic-colonial rule.