Understanding Sadar Hills

Published on December 10, 2013

By Tonghen Kipgen

Land and People

Sadar Hills in Manipur state (Northeast India) is inhabited by multi-ethnic groups with inherent socio-economic and cultural backgrounds. In spite of being underprivileged with respect to justice, administrative power and economic aggrandizement, Sadar Hills enjoys its fortune glory and have experienced the vicissitudes of its long history. The land has a complete and clear demarcated boundary. Sadar Hills is inhabited by heterogeneous communities, such as the indigenous Kukis, the Nepalis and a few pockets of Kacha Nagas.

The Kukis are the dominant ethnic group who are also the indigenous settlers. Later, as requested by the then Maharaja Chourajit Singh they settled around the ring of hills surrounding valley areas in 1810 as sentinels to ward off the Burmese invaders. The Kacha Nagas migrated to Sadar Hills from adjoining areas and neighbouring districts since the internal wars amongst the Naga tribes themselves during the early part of the nineteenth century. They (Nagas) migrated to Sadar Hills as a safe haven because of the fact that the Kuki chiefs were the arbiter of the intermittent factional clashes of the Kacha Nagas. Since then, the Nagas began to settle in parts of Sadar Hills as a vassal community and also established vassal villages under the Kuki chiefs.

The name Sadar Hills is derived from a Persian word ‘Sadar’ which means closer to headquarters, similar to the analogy of Sadar bazaars in army cantonments in various parts of India. Thus, the literal meaning of Sadar Hills is ‘hill areas adjoining or closer to the headquarters or valley areas’. It is a hill region which is situated at the periphery of the valley and other hill districts of Manipur.

Sadar Hills is not a new generic term but an administrative unit that had emerged since when the British extended its administration in Manipur. Sadar Hills was conceived and established in 1891 after the Anglo-Manipur war of 1891 by P. Maxwell, then British political officer, who was very much concerned about the backward hill regions, and therefore, initiated various developmental activities for the hill areas.

The name was conceived by the then British administration for effective governance and development of the peripheral region and for their administrative expediency. As such, as early as 1901, Sadar Hills was already an administrative unit. The name also appeared in the division of Manipur Administration in 1911, as; Imphal in the centrally located capital of the state, Karong-Mao and Sadar Hills on the north, Ukhrul in the east, Tengnoupal in the south-east, Tamenglong on the west, Churachandpur in the south, Thoubal and Bishenpur in the central area. The administrative region of ‘Sadar’ in Manipur was already observed even before 1900.

There are divergent views that conceived and firstly established Sadar Hills administrative division. Some say it was coined by J.C. Higgins, the British political officer in late 1933. But given the fact that Sadar Hills was already an administrative unit even before 1901, which was also depicted in the administrative division of 1911, it lacks clarity and it is inappropriate to believe that it was introduced by J.C. Higgins who came to Manipur only after 1917.

Some are of the view that it is a recent introduction which is an abbreviation for ‘Special Area Development and Administrative Region (SADAR)’ as was arbitrarily found in the Manipur Settlement and Land Records. But in-dept study on the matter reveal that the acronym ‘SADAR’ was only the invention of Manipur government to diminish its glory and to dilute the uniqueness of Sadar Hills.


In 1971, during the process for granting full-fledged statehood to Manipur, the government of India promulgated an Act of Parliament, called Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Act, 1971 (vide Section 4 of Sub-Section 3, Bill No. 76 of 26/12/1971) for safeguarding the hill areas and protection of the tribals in Manipur. The Act provides for creation of six Autonomous District Councils in the hill areas of Manipur for ultimate conversion into full-fledged district, viz.:

  1. Manipur North Autonomous District (Senapati)
  2. Sadar Hills Autonomous District (Sadar Hills)
  3. Manipur East Autonomous District (Ukhrul)
  4. Tengnoupal Autonomous District (Chandel)
  5. Manipur South Autonomous District (Churachandpur)
  6. Manipur West Autonomous District (Tamenglong)

Thus, a notification was issued by S.M. Krishnatry, the then chief secretary to the government of Manipur (vide No. 28/1/71 of dated 14/02/1972). Subsequently, Manipur attained full-fledged statehood in 1972 under Article 371-C of the constitution of India.  And, out of the six created autonomous councils five of them were given full-fledged district, but Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council was not granted districthood like the other five councils. It is still left out without allocating all the provisions as envisaged in the Act of Parliament of 1971.

The administration of Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council in Manipur and its population as per the government of India Census Reports 2011 comprises the following 3 Sub-Divisions which are also the territorial jurisdiction of Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council. On the basis of which district council constituencies were constituted as per the recommendation of the District Council Delimitation Committee without any controversy on its boundary.



Name of Sub-Division

Area in Sq.Km

No. of village

as 2011 Census

*Population as of 2011 Census


Kangpokpi-Sadar Hills West










Saikul-Sadar Hills East




Total =




* Sub-Divisional wise population of Manipur is yet to be published


And as per the Hill House Counting and Grazing Tax assessment of 2012, the total number of villages and population of Sadar Hills in the three sub-divisional wise are shown below:



Name of Sub-Division

No. of village

  1 *Kangpokpi-   Sadar Hills West



  2 Saitu-Gamphazol



  3 Saikul-Sadar   Hills East



           Total =



* Hill House Counting and Grazing Tax assessment of Kangpokpi Block/Sub-Division is yet to be updated


Territorial Jurisdiction

Since its existence, Sadar Hills was distinctively demarcated, and have its well-defined and  recognised boundary. Its territorial boundary and administrative jurisdiction was re-affirmed during the demarcation of Autonomous District Councils conducted by the government of Manipur in 2009. There were no objections and contradictions during the exercise; so election to the District Council in 2010 was peaceful with respect to its boundary.  Manipur (Hill Areas) Autonomous District Council Act of 1971 was enacted primarily for protection of the hill areas. Under Chapter 2 vide Section 2, Sub-Section (b) & (c) of the said Act, it needs a separate notification to increase or diminish the area of any autonomous district. Hence, the cropping up of boundary issue whenever the Sadar Hills district issue is raised is but flimsy and obnoxious which is intended to befool the public.

The Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council comprises 1698 square kilometres with a total population of 1,56,513 as per the 2001 Census Report of the government of India, consisting three sub-divisions with a clear map of administrative boundary of each sub-division. It is the second largest populated district (after Churachandpur) of all the six Autonomous District Councils in Manipur. And, with the creation of three more sub-divisions in Sadar Hills by the government of Manipur [vide Orders No. 30/19/2011-R dated 14 November 2011 and No. 30/8/2011-R dated 11 November 2011 respectively as issued by Shri M. Joy Singh, additional secretary (revenue)], and subsequent official inauguration by the hon’ble chief minister of Manipur on 17 December 2011 at Kangpokpi mini-secretariat complex, in partial fulfilment of the memorandum of understanding signed between Sadar Hills Districthood Demand Committee (SHDDC) and the government of Manipur on 3 October 2011. The present administrative units/territorial jurisdiction of Sadar Hills comprises the following six sub-divisions/T.D. blocks:



Name of Sub-Division

Head Quarters



Champhai Champhai

From Kangpokpi   Sub-Division


Saitu-Gamphazol Gamnom Saparmeina



Saikul-Sadar Hills East Saikul



Tujang Waichong Tujang Waichong

Newly created


Kangchup Geljang Kangchup Geljang

Newly created


Island Island

Newly created


Tonghen Kipgen was the general secretary of SHDDC during the public movement in 2011. He is also former president of KSO general headquarters and speaker of ATSUM, apex students’ body of tribals in Manipur. He can be reached at tkipgen73@gmail.com

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