Muslims of Manipur

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Muslim Manipuris or Pangahl
Total population
190,939 (1991 census)[1]
Regions with significant populations
• Manipuri
Related ethnic groups

The Muslim Manipuris locally known as Pangal are a cultural group and religious minority who have been living in Manipur[2]- the Meitei who are co-valley dwellers and with hill inhabitants- Naga and Kuki who are Christians. Pangals (Muslims) have been living in Manipur, North East India since centuries ago but the most accepted view is that they have been in Manipur as valley-dwellers since the first decade of 17th Century AD. Now they form a population of 8.32 percent of the total state population; in 2001 government census, Muslims with 190,939 persons[3] (Pangal or Meitei-Pangal as local names).They are closely related to the majority co-valley dwellers- the Meiteis- ethnically. However, they follow Islam as their religion. The Pangals, also pronounced as Pangans are the minority ethnic group of people reside in Northeast India (Manipur, Assam, Tripura and Nagaland) and also found in Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia,UK and USA and Pangals are also known as Miah Meitei (Meetei) or Manipuri Muslim.

Historical background[edit]

The Mughals enthroned Chhatra Manikya (ruling 1661-66) in Tripura while Govinda Manikya too fled to Arakan where he again met Shuja.[4] On the breach of trust by Arakan king Sanda Sudama, Shuja fled back to Tripura whose king quickly dispatched Shuja to Manipur by supplying an elephant in 1661, so that it might not antagonize the military force of Aurangzeb led by Mir Jumla. The Mughals lately came to know of the situation but Shuja was already gone. The Mughal prince Shangkusum (Shah Shuja) reached Manipur in December 1661 according to Cheitharol Kumbaba.[5] The Mughals sent a three men embassy to Manipur in late December 1661, this time to retrieve the aggrieved family of Shuja.[6] At that time Shuja was taking shelter in at Haignang of Kairang (east of Imphal), now known as Shuja-lok (Shuja cave).[7] In the meantime in Tripura, Chhatra Manikya was too dethroned and Govinda Manikya came back from Arakan to claim the throne and ruled Tripura again from 1667 to 1675.[8] The Manipur king Khunjaoba sent back a three man embassy to the court of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1662[9] while a Mughal ambassador named Nur Beg was held back in Manipur by the Qazi of Manipur named Muhammad Sani so that the retreating two Mughal messengers named Dur Beg and Rustam Beg should not tell about Shuja’s existence in Manipur.[10] Yet, Shuja was sent up to Ukhrul hill with some Muslims (already settled in Manipur) as precautionary measure from Mughal informers.[11] Thus Tripura and Manipur kings played crucial roles in saving the life of Shah Shuja probably because they did not like the Mughal expansionist policy of Aurangzeb.

Prince Shah Shuja had a wife named Praveen Banu (Piara Banu, Pai Ribanu), a sister namely Sabe Banu, three sons- Zainibuddin (Bon Sultan or Sultan Bang), Buland Akhtar and Zainul Abedin, three daughters- Gulrukh Banu, Roshanara Begum and Amina Begum.[12] Shah Shuja lost the war of succession, and bid Hindustan farewell on 6 June 1660 fleeing to Arakan via Tripura-Chittagong.[13] Shuja carried two vessels of gold and silver, jewel, treasures and other royal appendages to Arakan. Shuja first arrived at Chittagong and stayed for some time, from where he took the land route to Arakan which is still called Shuja Road. A thousand palanquins (carriers) carried the harem ladies and Shuja prayed the Eid prayer at a place called Edgoung (Eidgah) in Dulahzara which is still in Chittagong on the way to Arakan. Shuja undertook the land journey for 13 days and 13 nights with a troubled mind on the eastern bank of Naf River, half a mile north of Maungdaw town which is still known as Shuja village. Some of Shuja’s retinues there were later retained by the British army as archers army from 1826. The final day of the sea route took Shuja to Arakan where he was received by an envoy of Arakan king Sanda Sudamma and escorted to a separate quarter for the Mughal prince. Niccolai Manucci wrote: “The date of flight (of Shuja from Dacca) was June 5, 1660 and arrived in Arakan on August 26, 1660.”[14] Harvey noted that Shuja came to Arakan as Sudamma promised to provide him some of his famous ships to take him to Mecca for pilgrimage. He broke the promise. When Shuja arrived in Arakan with half a dozen camel loads of gold and jewelry, the temptation was too great for the Arakan king. Princess Gulrukh Banu fell victim to Sudamma and she promptly died in suicide,[15] while Sultan Bang and another brother died fighting. They ran amok, nearly succeeded in firing the royal palace of Sudamma in December 1660, while many Mughals were massacred. Arakan king mother was against the killing of Shuja, being a guest in the first instant. The Portuguese who were well-known there as pirates did save Shuja while robbed him of gold and jewels. The surviving Mughals with Shuja escaped back to Tripura on 16 May 1661 with much difficulty[16] and arrived in Manipur in December 1661.[17] While Aurangzeb’s reconnaissance men were on the hunt for Shuja and for every bit of news.[18] Conscious of this, Shuja’s men spread false news that Shuja died fighting in Arakan, while others rumoured he shipped to Mecca. There were a thousand different tales about Shuja’s fate and nothing could be conclusive.[19] After all this trauma and travesty, Shuja helped by Mughals and Pathans of Arakan.[20]


Further reading[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Dr. N. Debendra Singh, 2005, Identitities of the Migrated People of Manipur, Canchipur: Centre for Manipuri Studies (Manipur University)
  3. ^ Government of India, Manipur, Census, 2010.
  4. ^ Roychoudury, p. 29:(According to traditions in Tripura, Govinda Manikya after losing throne to Nakshatra Roy, fled to Arakan where he met Shah Shuja whom he presented a precious sword and a diamond, and thus friendship was established. It must be in around 1660 that Shuja made way for Tripura)
  5. ^ Cheitharol Kumbaba, p. 45
  6. ^ A. Hakim Shah, 2008, The Manipur Governance
  7. ^ Janab Khan, 1972, Manipuri Muslim.
  8. ^ N.R. Roychoudhury, Tripura Through The Ages.
  9. ^ A. Hakim Shah, 2008, The Manipur Governance.
  10. ^ Names of Mughal ambassadors can be known from P. Gogoi, 1961, The Tai and Tai Kingdoms who gave Dur Beg and Rustam; Kheiruddin Khullakpam, 1997, Turko-Afghangi Chada Naoda, Lilong: Circles, gives the Boggy clan ancestor as Noor Bakhsh that must be Noor Beg.
  11. ^ see also How Shuja, Brother of Aurangzeb died (sic) at Ukhrul; he actually died and was buried at Kairang Shujalok.
  12. ^ Stanley Lane-Pool, 1971, Aurangzeb, vol.1.
  13. ^ Suhas Chatterjee, 2008, The Socio-Economic History of South Assam.
  14. ^ Niccolai Manucci, Storia do Mogor or History of Mughal India, translator William Irvine
  15. ^ S. Harvey, 1971, Burma; Suhas Chatterjee, 2008.
  16. ^ Niccolai Manucci, Soria do Mogor.
  17. ^ Cheitharol Kumbaba, 1989.
  18. ^ Janab Khan, 1972, Manipuri Muslimalso locally called "Moughlai Muslim".
  19. ^ Niccolai Manucci, Storia do Mogor.
  20. ^ Niccolai Manucci, Storia do Mogor.

External links[edit]