Decades after naming a street in embassy-lined Chanakyapuri after Bir Tikendrajit, New Delhi stands accused of a diplomatic design on his great grandson.
The CPI’s Manipur unit decried the “shroud of diplomacy” allegedly thrown by New Delhi over Raj Kumar Meghen alias R.K. Sanayaima, chairman of the outlawed United National Liberation Front (UNLF).
The CPI is a coalition partner of the Secular Progressive Front government headed by the Congress’ Okram Ibobi Singh.
According to the UNLF, agents of India’s Research and Analysis Wing helped Bangladeshi authorities arrest Meghen in Dhaka on September 29. The Ministry of Home Affairs has denied capturing the rebel leader.
Meghen, 64, had floated UNLF in 1964 to fight for a sovereign Manipur ruled by the dominant Meitei community. He is the great grandson of Tikendrajit, Manipur’s ruler who the British had hung in 1891 for rebelling against the Raj.
Manipur’s royals did not reconcile to Manipur’s merger with India in 1949, though King R.K. Bodhachandra Singh signed the Instrument of Accession before 15 August 1947. Most in the dynasty “compromised”, but Meghen went underground 35 years ago never to return to his royal residence at Yaiskum Janmasthan in Manipur capital Imphal.
Given the emotional attachment to the royal family, Manipur now wants Meghen to be “returned” by New Delhi. “The Central government must come clear on his whereabouts,” said CPI’s state secretaray Langol Iboyaima.
The BJP and the regional Manipur People’s Party have made similar demands. So have the UNLF and other militant outfits while the Manipur Forward Youth Front has accused New Delhi of masterminding Meghen’s “forced disappearance”.
Meghen’s wife Raj Kumari Ongbi Ibemnungshi and son R.K. Chinglen have even petitioned the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for help. “We have no objection to the measures planned against him, but we have the right to know where and how he is,” they said.
Many in Manipur look up to the royal family. The general feeling is that both Tikendrajit and his great grandson opposed imperialism of different kinds. “But in this post-UN era, Meghen has the right to live and be treated like a sovereign unlike his great grandfather,” said a Congress leader.