The Plight of Manipuri Gorkhas: A Tale of Unrecognized Bravery and Emerging Challenges.
Unrecognized Bravery- The plight of Manipuri Gorkhas and emerging challenges.

In the lush landscapes of Manipur, a community known for its unparalleled bravery and courage, the Gorkhas, confronts a paradox. Revered for their valiant history, they find themselves embroiled in a struggle for recognition and safety in a land they fiercely love and consider their own.

The Gorkhas’ legacy in Manipur dates back to historic events like the Anglo-Manipuri war of 1891, where heroes like Subedar Niranjan Singh Chettri made ultimate sacrifices. Their cultural integration was further cemented by marriages, notably between Maharani Ishwari Devi, a Nepali princess, and the Manipuri King. The WW-II Victoria Cross, awarded for gallant efforts against the Japanese invasion in Manipur India, adds to their illustrious annals. These events are not mere footnotes in history but foundational chapters in the making of modern Manipur.

Despite their deep-rooted presence, the Gorkhas often face the harsh reality of being perceived as outsiders. A poignant example of this is the recent harassment faced by the community at the hands of the Liangmei’s of Irang Village. Despite a favorable court verdict, the Gorkhas encounter forced taxations and threats, showcasing a grim picture of intimidation and fear.

Heavy extortion and extreme threats by both warring communities are making the situation increasingly worse for all the Manipuri Gorkhas, with the future looking gloomy… In 2012, the deletion of four panchayats, namely Kapur Leikha, Torbari, Kalapahar, and Santalabar Parsain, by the then-Congress government, further alienated this community. Such actions not only undermine their political representation but also strip them of a sense of belonging.

Amid these adversities, the Gorkhas’ response has been marked by a stoic silence. Community-Based organizations, expected to be the voice of the people, remain in the shadows, creating a vacuum in leadership and advocacy. Hope this silence is not a sign of acquiescence but a testament to the enduring patience and hoping for a harmonious resolution.

Today, as the community stands at a crossroads, the future seems uncertain, torn between the love for their homeland and the primal instinct for survival. Many are considering refuge to other safer regions beyond borders, those like me, who cling to this land as our motherland, stand at a crossroads, uncertain of what the future holds yet unwavering in our commitment to its defence.

Yet, the question that haunts every Manipuri Gorkha is: “What is ahead for those who see Manipur as their motherland and are willing to defend it at all costs”?

The story of the Manipuri Gorkhas is not just a narrative of unacknowledged contributions and emerging threats; it is a call for recognition, understanding, and integration. It is a reminder that the true strength of Manipur lies in its diversity and the acknowledgment of every community’s role in its history and future. The Gorkhas, with their rich legacy of bravery and courage, seek not just survival but the dignity and respect that their history and sacrifices warrant.

As we look forward to a brighter, more inclusive future, it’s imperative that the voices of the Gorkhas are heard, their rights safeguarded, and their place in the tapestry of Manipur’s diverse culture firmly secured. The time has come for collective action and empathy, ensuring that the Gorkhas are no longer the silent sufferers but active participants in shaping the destiny of Manipur.

The Manipuri Gorkhas do not ask for charity but for the respect and rights that befit their sacrifices, as their blood and sweat are interwoven with the soil of the land.

Bhavaroopa Bhujel
Manipur’ Gorkhas Displaced People Committee