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|Chief Minister of Manipur|
July 1974 – December 1974
June 1977 – November 1979
Ukhrul District, Manipur
|Spouse(s)||Hangmila Shaiza (m. 1949)|
|Residence||Tangrei, Ukhrul District Headquarter, Manipur|
Yangmaso Shaiza (1923-1984) was an Indian politician from the state of Manipur. He was the fourth chief minister of Manipur, and the first tribal politician from the hilly regions of Manipur to hold that post.
He was known for his political statesmanship as well as for his deep concern to bring peace in Manipur. Since he worked tirelessly to bring down ethnic clashes, tribal disunity, and communal strives among people, he was deeply admired, respected, and loved by people. Among many of the political personalities from this state, he remains as an exceptional leader who followed the policy of bringing down communalism, tribalism, and parochialism.
Yangmaso Shaiza was born in 1923 in Tangkhul Naga Community, and was raised in a Christian Protestant Baptist family at Ukhrul District. His father Shangyang Shaiza (1890-1968), was one of the first founding Educationist of the Tangkhul people living at Ukhrul. His father was among the Second Batch of the Tangkhuls attending Reverend William Pettigrew’s School at Ukhrul, learning Western education. His mother was Ningchungla Shaiza, the eldest daughter of H.A. Raihao, Chief or Headman of the Ukhrul District. He was the eldest among many of the illustrious sons of Shangyang and Ningchungla Shaiza. Being born in an educated family, it was not difficult for him to imbibe education and move on to become the most prominent political personality among the tribal communities living in the hilly regions of Manipur to date.
Yangmaso was known for being a bright and brilliant student when he started attending schools in Middle English School, Ukhrul, St. Johnstone School, Imphal, and Shillong. He eventually matriculated from Shillong, and went to graduate from the Scottish Church College at the University of Calcutta. He was among the Tangkhuls’ second batch, who graduated from college (the first batch and only personality being Major Bob Khathing, who graduated from Cotton College, Guwahati in 1929).
As a child and youth, Yangmaso was known for being a great athlete, and he was a keen footballer. This interest was reflected even in his later life, when he organized many football tournaments across Manipur.
His career sets off by working as an interpreter for the British during the World War II in Manipur. After he graduated, he came to Ukhrul and was selected to work as an Extra Assistant Commissioner/Circle Officer (EAC/CO) in 1946. Three years later, he married Hangmila Shaiza in 1949, who later became the first elected woman MLA of Manipur. Together, they have six children: Keinan, Ngachanpam, Hangzik (Danny Shaiza, former Member of Legislative Assembly), Shimyo, Lakpati (Lakkh-a), and Graceton.
His deep political involvement and concern for the people started when the Princely States of Manipur was merged and integrated with Indian Union on 15 October 1949. He was against the merger, and after resigning from his post as EAC/CO, he worked with the Manipur Nationalist Union (MNU) from 1949 till 1953. The movement was later subdued by the new found Manipur Government under the instigation of the Government of India (GOI), and many activists including Yangmaso Shaiza, Shri S. Indramani, Shri W. Buddha, and Shri R. K. Maipaksana were thrown behind the bars in 1953.
Following such incident, he left political activities from 1953-1971 and engaged himself in educating the masses, and later took up Civil Service administrative work under Manipur Government. In 1954, he took up a noble profession of teaching the Tangkhuls at Khamasom, along with his wife. His beloved daughter-in-law, the Educationist and National Commission for Women Member, Soso Shaiza (1955 –), asserted that this period was a "self-political asylum’ sought by Yangmaso during his span of political career. His efforts, sincerity, and acumen were easily recognized, and the Manipur Government awarded him the Civil Service administrative post of Block Development Officer and Sub Divisional Officer (BDO/SDO). This career took him across all regions of Manipur including Tengnoupal, Thanlon, Churachandpur, Tipaimukh, Imphal, Tadubi, Tamenglong, and Ukhrul. People in these places remembered him as an upright man, who worked tirelessly to bring development and change in the places by constructing roads, water systems, and educational institutes. Among many of his qualities, Yangmaso was known for being the least corrupt politicians in India. His political tactic in solving the corrupt system of India was by directly getting involved with the masses and personally supervising any construction or developmental work done under his jurisdiction. His involvement with the masses has been considered by people in Chruachandpur till today as Yangmaso’s Style.
By 1971, his political calling was underway, and through pressure and support from the masses, he left the administrative work, and instead joined the 5th Lok Sabha Indian Election as an independent candidate. Although he was defeated, he again contested from Ukhrul/44-AC in 1972 (when Manipur attained statehood) as an independent candidate, and comfortably won, thereby becoming a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA). He also became the Finance Minister of Manipur under the Chief Ministership of Mohammed Alimmuddin. In 1974, he founded the Manipur Hills Union (MHU), that gave him the opportunity to become the first Chief Minister (July 1974 – December 1974) from hilly regions of Manipur. His first term as Chief Minister of Manipur was short lived, and this was conditioned by the chaos that was emanating under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her Indian National Congress.
When India was put under the State of Emergency for 21-month period from 1975–7 under Article 352 (1) of Indian Constitution, Yangmaso strongly opposed to the situation created by the emergency in Manipur State. Some of the acts committed under the emergency that affected people living in Manipur include the forced mass-sterilisation campaign spearheaded by Sanjay Gandhi, the destruction of low-income housing at many places of Imphal town, and detention of people by the police without charges or notification to the families. For opposing the emergency activities of the INC (R), Yangmaso was put behind bars under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA), passed by the Indian Parliament in 1971.
By 1977, Janata Party was formed, and Morarji Desai was elected as the first chairman of the party.
Yangmaso himself declared in 1977 that he was against the Fascist handling style of the country by the Indian National Congress, and even more, under the rule of one individual to the benefit of the family. He strongly supported the rise of Janata Party, and in his own words, "the installation of the Janata Party in power is an outcome of a rightful revolt of the people in a democratic manner through the ballots against the previous Congress Party’s rule which was ruling under a virtual dictatorship". Thus, while being elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) from Congress Party in 1977, he gave up the seat owing to his opposition to the party’s emergency activities. Within the same year, he returned as the Chief Minister of Manipur (29 June 1977 – 14 November 1979) under the Janata Party. He reportedly summoned Indira Gandhi at Imphal Court to explain various crimes committed during the time of emergency. Appealing to the people of India and Manipur, Yangmaso declared in 1977 as, "You are the judges, the jury and you are the best judge to decide for your future. Your liberty, your freedom, your rights in your development is safe with the Janata Party as you have seen it already in comparison with the emergency period".
When Shaiza rose to power as the Chief Minister of Manipur in 1974, and again from 1977-1979, he came to be regarded as a strong devoted leader since he firmly believed in the unification of Manipur. Although he was elected as Indian Member of Parliament (MP) through Indian National Congress in 1977, The State of Emergency (1975–7) declared by the Indian President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed under Article 352 (1) of Indian Constitution, and the heinous results that emanate out of the act, made him to support the then emerging Janata Party (1977). By giving up his Congress MP seat, Yangmaso joined the Janata Party and emerged as the new Chief Minister of Manipur in 1977 again, and carried on the post till 1979. He reportedly brought the Manipur Hills Union within the folds of electoral politics, that angered the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), leading to a brutal assassination of the visionary leader by the NSCN in 1984.
While holding the post of Chief Minister (1977-1979) in Manipur, Yangmaso achieved and accomplished many within a short span of two years, which many Indian politicians are unable to achieve in a lifetime. Some of his achievements include:
- Giving Full Autonomy to the Districts Council
- Decentralization of Central Power of the Capital of Manipur across other districts of Manipur
- Upgradation of District Administration
- Separate Engineering Cells for Hills and Valleys in Manipur
- Making Meitei and English as the Official Languages of Manipur
- Starting Mini Secretariat in Hill Districts
- Building Multipurpose Auditorium, Schools, Colleges, and Hospitals across Manipur
- Starting the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) at Ukhrul
- Converting 107 Private Schools and Colleges to Government Sponsored Schools and Colleges, and thereby making the Teachers in these institutions to become GOI-Serviced Staffs.
During his political career, Yangmaso brought the Manipur Hills Union within the folds of electoral politics. It is widely believed that this reason made his fate to his early demise, when the NSCN brutally murdered him in front of his family members at Nagaram, Imphal on 30 January 1984. He in a way paid with his life for living up to the peaceful ideals.
As a far-sighted leader, Yangmaso and his policies has been considered as being highly visionary and cosmopolitan in nature. In a recent one-day seminar on "Yangmaso Shaiza and His Manipur" held on 9 March 2014 by the United All Communities Social Uplifters (UNACSU), Manipur, his legacy was summed up by Soso Shaiza as:
"As Chief Minister, he was convinced that the only way to maintain peace and harmony in the state was to reach out benefits to the remotest parts of the state and to bring development to both the hills and valleys, and to all tribes and communities. His vision was the accommodation and acceptance of all tribes and communities in Manipur. His dream was a rainbow concept of recognition and acceptance of the unique culture and character of all tribes and communities. For him, all human beings are brothers and sisters, since we are all children of God. His vision and ideals will be realised when all tribes and communities living in Manipur make his unity-rainbow concept a reality".
- This quotation is derived from Yangmasho's 'Original Copy of Appeal' that he made to the people of India to vote for Janata Party in 1977.
- Same source as 2 citation
- "Seminar on Yangmasho".
- "Seminar on Yangmasho".
- "The Soul Of Manipur And Yangmasho Shaiza". Further conversation with Masophi Shaiza and Acrticle released during the Seminar.