INA in the story of an incomplete diary

INA in the story of an incomplete diary

/ Guest Column / Tuesday, 24 November 2020 00:00

By- Makhomani Mongsaba
(Translated by Aheibam Anita & Aheibam Koireng Singh for incorporating as chapter in our forthcoming book on Manipur and Second World War)

Inherent in the history of Manipur, Indian National Army (INA), I heard of it during my high school days around the year 1972. In my childhood days as a young student I did not give much thought to it. All that I know was that a memorial was there in Moirang. Since I did not venture out much during those days. I hardly knew much of it. As a child, Moirang, for me was very far. Year 1976-77, I started making friends in the college. With that, crossing homestead, I began visiting friends in their homes. Then one day some friends from college and some friends from locality, we together went for a picnic lunch at Sendra that must be my first journey to Moirang. Those days, a lot of people go out for picnics to Sendra. Atop the hill, one could see people cooking in the corners. A local elderly guide showed the tree which Khamba climbed and sat on to watch Thoibi as she was fishing, pulling up her fishing net.
The road to Sendra was very bad and small too. Barely enough for two vehicles to pass by one another. Not able to drive in further, we returned back. A girl, who said her name was Ibeton was using a boat to go to her school. I could vividly recall her sailing on her way to school. By evening as we were returning way back home the sight of water chestnuts piled up for sale on the foothills was awesome. Boiled, raw, peeled, unpeeled... heaps and heaps of them. Like the women rice vendors in the market the women were sitting in rows and selling them. As I recall, I remember the women sold them by the tins and baskets for measure. For 10 Rupees it was quite a quantity. We ate and ate with blackened lips on our way back time. We all bought to take back home too.
On reaching Moirang, we went to see INA. That was the first time I heard of INA. On the edge of the path to a big house, we saw a statue of Subashchandra Bose Standing. About Netaji, we knew since childhood about, as we had learnt about him in our early school books. But how Moirang, INA and Netaji are related, we did not know directly. We just saw the INA Memorial Hall from outside we did not go in. Our request for entry was denied as it was late. No one was there, so we returned. That was the first day we set foot on INA Moirang.
My grandmother and grandfather had some close elderly friends of Moirang. I had heard stories of lots of their friends from the place. When she heard of me visiting Moirang and our picnic at Sendra she gave me money to get water chestnuts for her. I got lots of raw one for her. One popular person from Moirang who even became the Chief Minister, Moirang Koireng was someone very close to my grandmother and grandfather, I remember that as a child, ‘Moirang Koireng’ called my grandmother ‘Iche’ (eldest sister) and my grandfather ‘Taibungo’ (elder brother) respectfully. It was during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Manipur, there was a function to celebrate the Statehood Day at Pologround. At the function I was made to perform a solo Krishna Dance. I guess that must be due to their closeness. Our grandfather passed away in the year 1964-65. I could not recall much of the event as I was too young. Here in this instance I am mentioning all these to relate with this essay.
The Beginning of the Incident:
Year 1894, around this time, the wick of bomb of a story known to me about INA has started to burn. My grandmother often used to narrate to me the story of their fleeing at the Second World War. As a child, unaware of the fear and woes of a war I used to enjoy listening to her stories. It was when I was completing college, when she again told the story I was able to listen carefully. When the bomb dropped my grandmother hid in the pit along with my father and some children from the locality. She narrated while fleeing away from Imphal, she ran towards Lamsang carrying my father on her back. One woman from Uripok who went to fetch water was also killed in the bombardment. All such blows stuck me and I wanted to start a search about the war. I went to the elders where incidents of the Second World War happened and started collecting stories. I went everywhere to meet people and listen to stories. This became my work for some time.
Among the stories – the bombing of Chingangbam Mandop, the Memorial Tomb at Nambol Maibam Lotpa Ching, the incident at Irengbam village, south of Nambol where starving Japanese soldiers pulled away cattle from the cowshed which they later killed and ate and the Japanese trench at Thoubal. These were some of the unforgettable stories of the Second World War I had collected. These stories, I had planned to structure into a big collection in my mind, only that it is unwritten. There was a time when I was moving fast but being in youth my thoughts got digressed and like early spring clouds, they drifted in the wind like the fluffy wools of the red silk cotton tree floating in the wind and changed direction. Thus there was a pause in my research a work on the war.
Then I came across the Indo–Japan Friendship association in Manipur, I went ahead with my forgotten thoughts of the War yet again to find out more. Thus, I became a life member of the Association. I joined the Association to study the Japanese language and culture and learnt a bit of the language. I knew things which I did not earlier. Meeting the Japanese war veterans who visit Manipur every year, travelling with them to some of the places related to the war increased my involvement. INA, of which I didn’t knew anything I now began to understand clearly. The time was winter, a chilling December morning at that. Our teacher who taught us Japanese language, Phurailatpam Nandakumar had kindly sent me a message. Some Japanese war veterans along with the descendants of fallen Japanese soldiers would be visiting the state to pay homage to the departed. They would be going to Nambol Maibam Lotpa Ching and Irengbam village to perform some rituals and also meet some people. I was requested to guide them. Since I was much interested on the subject, my teacher’s message enthused me and I became involved all the more.
We hired a big tourist bus and along with the war veterans went to Irengbam village first. We felt so could and wore thick warm clothes but the not so well built Japanese came wearing T–shirt, least bothered of the cold. Seeing me feel so cold one of the veteran handed me a small hot pack to keep in my armpit. Having kept that in my armpit I gradually felt warmer. In a short while my whole body was warm. I no longer feel the cold. No words at that, since they came from a highly advanced country. There’s a reason why they go about with light clothing in the cold. Though small, the hot pack had power. While with them they let me use the pack but did not give that away, they took it back. There, in Irengbam village at Bishnupur district they prayed offering fruits and flowers in a temple they had built. That was the place where their soldiers died. One of the veterans asked for a particular house. He took out a map he had brought and looked up the lanes, fields and meadows. Pointing at one house he proposed we go there and so we went together. It seemed he knew the surrounding of the house. He looked about everywhere, at his request I called out to the people inside the house. Some people came out. Seeing them he shook his head to show they were not the one he was looking for. Then when politely inquired if that was all of the family, they said one more was there, he was old and weak and bed ridden and could not move around much and now lying in bed. On our request to bring him out, the family member supported him and brought him out. They sat him down comfortably in the frontal verandah. Seeing the elders, that Japanese veteran looked closely and seems to remember something and pointing his finger he said this was the man.
I was just obliging Oja Phurailatpam Nandakumar of his request to help and was accompanying the war veterans but knew nothing about the relation between the elders and the Japanese. The veteran then said, during the Second World War when they were searching for food they killed his cattle and ate it. When asked to the Meitei elder if the incident was true and if he remembers it, the elders replied in affirmative. The veteran identified himself as the man who had pulled away the cattle from his shed and killed and ate it. The war veteran introduced himself as that soldier and said that if he was alive till date it was because of that incident. The elder from Irengbam village was Irengbam Tollamu. He said the story was told by his elder brother Irengbam Bheigya. Bheigya had died. A tall well built man they both looked alike. Because of their similar looks, the war veteran took Tollamu to be the person he had met long ago. Most of the Japanese soldiers who were with the veteran at that time had died at that place. He survived. They came to pay tribute of fruits and flowers, where the Japanese soldiers fell. Today the war veteran had come back searching for the owner of the cattle they killed and ate, to pay the price for the animal, we were totally taken by surprise. He asked the price for the cattle. Instead of giving or taking the price money, when a long forgotten incident of fifty years had all of a suddenly very vividly come up in front of our eyes... it seem a bond was growing and a knot of love tighten between them. The Japanese presented some gift as that they had brought with them to the family and the people gathered there. From there we headed to the memorial Tomb at the foothills of Maibam Lotpa Ching and made offerings. I wanted all that to finish up soon and drop them at the hotel and do my own work.
My work was nothing but to go back to Irengbam village and know the story further. I grew anxious in my curiosity for the story but could not do anything at that moment. The work was not complete. The Japanese were looking for an old bed ridden man who lived west of the Maibam Lotpa Hill and met him. I didn’t know who the man was. I did not go back to ask his whereabouts because the sickness the elder was suffering from seemed to be something like tuberculosis. After meeting the elder we all headed towards Wangkhei, Thambal Khong. This time the person we met was not a Meitei. We went to a Meitei-Pangal house. This elder was someone whom they knew very well. They gave him a hearing aid. After some talks among themselves, they winded up for the day. I was restless. Once I dropped them at the lodge. I first hurriedly turned back to Irengbam village and met the cattle owner the Japanese met with to find out the true story. I found out more.
During the war, everyone in Irengbam village fled away, narrated one Irengbam Tollamu. Their family members ran away to Heikhrujam, Kabowakching, a village in the west of Irengbam. Having made all the family members run away, only his elder brother, Irengbam Bheiga stayed back to look after the household and the cattle. During those days Meitei homes used to keep few tins of caramelised sugarcane juice. During the war those tins were hidden by burying them in the holes dug up inside the house. The Japanese soldiers scattered themselves and stayed in the vacant house after the families had fled away. One day a Japanese soldier walked out of the bamboo grove and pulled a cattle away from their cowshed. Seeing that Beigya ran towards the Japanese soldier and the two had a fight. The Japanese soldier was overpowered and pinned down. Suddenly some more soldiers came out of the bamboo groves and caught him and tied him up and they killed the cattle in his compound, cut and ate it. Sad and helpless against the armed soldiers he stayed back. They ate the animal since they had no food. The incident was an unforgettable and a sad one and the man called Irengbam Bheigya remembered it lifelong and was one of the untold wartime incidents.
The story told by Irengbam Bheigya, his aged younger brother lovingly told me again... that day his face reflected contentment, for the Japanese soldiers, long after the war, had come so far to that place where their fellow solders gave up their lives, in their remembrance. They felt it wrong to kill and eat the cattle and satisfy their hunger and save some of their lives, this Irengbam village, they cherished and to come back after fifty years and meet again and asking the price of the animal they had eaten, all these was so satisfying. The departed elder who then was with the Gods must too be satisfied. All grudges neutralized and cleansed. Through not related, but still, he said it felt like as if they were brothers of some previous birth and related by blood. This story makes me do more thinking. The incident is a mall story of Irengbam village during the war.
Stories of Second World War in Imphal did not end with this one. There were some untold stories in some places of Manipur. My curiosity grew and my search for stories of war time incidents did not stop. I became more involved in the works of Indo-Japan Friendship Association. That was the time when the Association was very active. One important functionary was our Japanese language teacher Phurailatpam Nandakumar Sharma. In his tenure as the Secretary, a lot of works were carried out. Because of him I also could learn much that I always wanted. He was the one who greatly encouraged me. The thought of making a film about the incidents in Manipur during the war for posterity came to my mind. For this, discussing with him I worked further. Oja Nandakumar introduced me to Oja Makino of Manipur University. Oja Makino, then did many writings about the war. Oja Nandakumar gave the news of some other war veterans visiting in the next year. Also the news that Japanese war veterans has lined up to visit the state every year. Unfortunately the number of days of their stay in Manipur was very less and also very few places were permitted to visit. The time they would come is winter. There were efforts by Oja Nandakumar regarding Inner Line Permit to extend their time of stay a little more.
A Related Small Story:
For a PhD research work on folklore of Langathel, I often used to visit the renowned artist ‘Langathel Thoinu’ who was famous for folk songs and the Moirangsai style of singing. Ema Langathel Thoinu and me, we knew each other from earlier times. Visiting her often I met her husband ‘Pabung’(Father) Yumnam Budhamani whenever I visited her house, often Pabung Budhamani, sitting in the corner of the frontal verendah used to write something in a note-book. I asked Ema if Pabung writes down all the lyrics of her song, I often saw Pabung writing I said. Ema was a little annoyed and replied ‘not at all, I don’t know what your pabung is writing’. When I asked Pabung what he was writing to my utter surprise, he said ‘war dairy’. “War Dairy” I was shocked. In the household of a soft artist someone is writing of tough things like war. It was unimaginable for me. Being a person curious and interested about the war, these words drew my attention. I changed my seat. I took the ‘mora’ (sitting tool indigenously made) near Pabung and sat near him. I asked which parts of the war was his dairy about. Pabung’s face was a smiling one by nature. The lowered face raised up and with a serious look said, “It’s about the second world war in Manipur. My diary is almost done but something is amiss so cannot call it complete”. I further asked him if I might know what it was. Looking at the Tulsi plant in the courtyard, he said. An article in the local dairy stating that ‘Netaji Subashchandra had come and hoisted the flag of INA at Moirang’ is not allowing me to complete my diary. This truth can only be trusted if a friend I once had would say it, but I don’t know his whereabouts and that is missing link. I could not take this matter lightly. I asked him who this friend was, and which story was it.
He did not look at me but was intensely gazing at the courtyard. You all won’t know, I once has a friend, a Meitei Pangal. He knows the true story about the INA. Other than him, I could believe nobody about the INA flag-hoisting at Moirang. Not knowing if the person to speak on INA is still alive or dead, I still am keeping this part of my dairy incomplete. I have a lot of discontentment. Hearing this I asked him again, who the Meitei Pangal was. What his name was. He calmly replied, ‘I call him Choudhury’. His full name is Nake Ahmed Choudhury’.
I believe God is there. I suddenly recalled the Meitei-Pangal I met along with the Japanese war veterans. Turning his face towards me from the intense gaze at the Courtyard asked me. “How do you know him? I then told him everything about my meeting with the Japanese war veterans. Hearing this I saw a bright smile on his face. “Do you know his house, where did you meet him? Let’s go” he said. I knew the house and we got ready and went. A Friend, Pabung and me, we three came to Nake Ahmed Choudhury’s house at Wangkhei Yonglan Lane in Thambalkhong Khetrigao. A slight horizontally structured house, there, a small wooden table and a chair was placed in the verendah. The compound was not a big one. With me in the front we walked in and I called out Pabung Nake. A woman come out and made us sit in the verendah. Pabung Nake and me knew each other. I had often come to give him the hearing aid. That’s how I knew. We never sat down and talked properly. I also did not bother to. That day I was much interested. Pabung Budha and him looked at each other intensely the way one does to people they knew earlier and I watched them without even blinking. Pabung Budha was the one to begin, “Choudhury Saheb .... remember me?” Like meeting long lost family members they hugged each other tightly, both sides of the neck touching the others. Like Muslim on the day of Eid hugging their friends touching each other necks, there in front of my eyes in Pabung Nakes’s verandah these two aged old friends affectionately hugged each other. They must have felt the relationship between them when they met. I did not feel that since I did not knew them much. Pabung Budha spoke bluntly, he began, “Choudhury Saheb we met at Moirang one day, then Choudhury was caught after that ‘where were you taken?’.
Pabung Budha’s question was one that took me by surprise. The one to answer, Pabung Nake held his ear tightly and in a low voice said, “I cannot hear what you are saying”. Pabung went closer and repeated the same words. Pabung Nake turned his face away and said, “I don’t know what you are talking about, No body caught me” Pabung Budha’s face darkened and Pabung Nake turned his face away. Pabung Budha’s blunt start with unpleasant things like arrest must have marred the re-union between the two long lost friends. Pabung Nake started avoiding the talk and diverted away. The words would not have mattered had it been between people who knew one another closely. I came in between them requesting not to get angry. “Pabung Budha kept remembering Pabung Nake very often” I said “I was the one to tell him Pabung Nake is still alive and knew his house and thus brought him”. I took out the biscuit and gave Pabung Nake called out to make tea. Pabung Budha further said this son of mine (me, Makhonmani myself) is also studying about the second War War in Manipur. I am also writing a diary of what happened in Manipur. My diary is complete, but for one thing if I did not hear it from you cannot be true and have kept it blank. For that I have kept my diary incomplete. I was very happy to hear that you are still alive. Choudhury must give the true answer otherwise the history of the Second World War in Manipur would go the incorrect way. Who hoisted the INA flag at Moirang? Didn’t Choudhury hoist the flag? Did Netaji come to Manipur? Please give me the true answers clearly.

Pabung Nake Choudhury seem a bit weak. He seemed a bit stronger hearing the mention of the INA flag. He replied he was the one who did. But did not speak much further. Due to his physical weakness he did not give much time. He looked tired to be sitting for long. A women brought out tea; we drank together and returned back. Once inside the vehicle, Pabung Budha said, “Ibungo, you go and talk to him again without me. I will entrust you something. He himself did accept it was him who hoisted the INA flag at Moirang. This was what I wanted to hear in his own words. I would now write this truth in my diary. One more thing I wanted to know that he had not answered. It is troubling me. You go and take the stories without me.

Which incident, what happened between these elders... without knowing that and being a part of the conversation... I was dumbstruck and did not know what to think. Once we reached home, me and Pabung talked in detail. Pabung Budha told me a story of a long ago, much before I was born. Had I known the story I would have gone myself to Pabung Nake prior to their meeting, then the reunion between the two would have been a complete one. But beginning with the wrong things out of over excitement at the news of Pabung Nake being alive and the desire to see him spoilt things. I then went to Pabung Budha to find out what actually happened between them and listened to the story.

In earlier times, prior to the war, the two of them studied together at CC Higher Secondary, sitting on the same bench they were good friends. Both were good students. Both aimed to become pilots. Intermediate Arts (IA) of those days, now equivalent of twelfth standard these days, completing that, they both headed to Calcutta to become pilots together. Without any guidance, we had gone without knowing where to go. On reaching Calcutta, seeing the jets in flights at sharp tilts on their sides, Pabung Budhamani was very scared. When he told this to Pabung Nake. He became very angry and said he was a coward and was so unbecoming of a Meitei. Pabung Nake stayed back to ‘study pilot’. Pabung Budhamani returned back to Imphal alone. After that the two never met. Back in Imphal when he had no work the government was making efforts to open an office of industries. He was selected for training and went for it. He returned back after finishing the training. In those days very few educated individuals like Sanasam Gourahari and Sinam Krishnamohan were the influential people in the government administration. They examined the certificate of the training. They also examined the matric (Class X) certificate too. As per the matric certificate records, his name was known as Yumnam Budhamani. The Sahebs, when they gave the certificate after their training, wrote Mister Budha. The names did not match. Because of this difference in the names and alias being not allowed his hard work at the training did not bear fruit. He could not get the job. Frustrated, the certificate proved useless, he has no reason for keeping it. He tore it there on the spot, narrated Pabung Budhamani.

Later, one day Pabung Budhamani met the sahib who selected him for the training; he asked Pabung if he got the job. Pabung told him that the names in the certificate did not match and so could not get the job. Knowing that he was a good student convinced him again. “we are leaving Manipur, we know you are good, We will give you a job foreget the rank. But you have to give a test”. Saying this he was made to sit in an exam for recruitment of Amins for Land Measurement. They wanted to select him but also they wanted to do it clean and then they took his test. Some of the questions were – Draw two similar looking pictures. Pabung Budhamani said around seven of them gave the test at Johnstone School, Imphal. Most of them drew pair of oxen, saluting soldiers and many different pictures and went happily after submitting their papers. He was left alone, unable to draw anything. The invigilator on duty asked him “Mister Budha you are not able to answer anything” At last, a theorem came up in his mind and he drew isosceles triangles and submitted. “You are appointed”, there and then he was appointed for the job, narrated Pabung Budhamani. He prayed to Gonvinda and tried his luck and drew the two isosceles triangles. Early in those days he was the first to become an Amin. That must have been a record. During the war he as the Amin (land recorder) measured the land to construct the airfield for the British planes to land at Tulihal Airport Changangei. He made very accurate land measurement. He was appreciated for he could accurately calculate the length, breadth and area. Thus, at that time he was employed under the British with salary.

It was the time when the Second World War was growing stronger. News of Azad Hind Fauz raised by Netaji coming into Manipur spreaded. Pamphlets with the headlines ‘Join INA’ carrying message of Netaji were strewn about and news of its establishment in Manipur was also heard. During the war while going for construction of roads and bridges people picked up these pamphlets which would land them in trouble had the Britishers come to know of it. The brief summary of the -

‘Brother, father, son and sisters and friends of Bharat. I pay my respect to you all. Please do not help Britain, instead of doing that Please help Bharat and Japan who have come together. I myself have come as a soldier. I Subash have devoted both my body and spirit for Bharat Mata. It is my firm belief that this war would free us. If defeated, I would, even if I die, would never again return back to the lap of Bharat Mata’

One day a letter was delivered to Pabung Budhamani’s hand. It read “Mister Budha, you must go to Moirang to carry out the land survey for the construction of market. Come to Babupara, Imphal. There a jeep no... would be waiting for you. You should be sitting next to the driver at the front seat. Leave the main seat vacant. On your way to Moirang, a man would be waiting at Ningthoukhong. He would also board the jeep. He will seat at the vacant front seat. Together you all would be travelling till Moirang and do the survey.

Since the order could not be disobeyed, on the appointed day and time, for the survey at Moirang. I went to Babupara, Imphal and found the jeep and following their orders climbed in and started off. There at Ningthoukhong a non-Manipuri joined us. Without talking much we drove towards Moirang. Being wartime, there were anxiety and worry. With prayers in our hearts we went ahead. In those days, due to the bad road, it took a long time to reach Moirang. At last we reached. Body was exhausted. The non-Manipuri told us to freshen up and to look for something to eat and drink. Wanting to have a cup of tea, I started looking for a local tea and snacks stall. After the search finally a small shop seen half open. I walked in an asked if they would have tea, the tea was made. While having the tea, suddenly not from a far distance someone seems to beckon at me with his hands from among the dense wild water-plantion leaves. On looking out again, the man had come quite close and was calling out. It was him, my one time friend who stayed back in Calcutta to study pilot, a Meitei-Pangal by the name Nake Choudhury. He took me aside into the wilderness and showed me the INA uniforms piled up there. He had come to Manipur and was staying there. He had come as the INA ‘Manipur Branch captain’ and started requesting me to join INA. Led by that non-Manipuri who had come with them Nake was caught and taken away. Pabung Budha was told to go back to Imphal without doing the survey and made to return. In this way Pabung Nake Ahmed Choudhury was caught right infront of his own eyes, this dream like incident was kept untold to anyone. Pabung Budhamani started writing this war dairy.

Listening to this story from Pabung Budhamani himself, I forgot I was breathing; such wonderful story made me more curious, my anxiety grew. For the rest, I was told to go and meet so I went to Pabung Nake Ahmed’s house like a peon to take down his message. Pabung Nake looked weak and dull. Seeing me he looked disinterested but without wasting time, I started asking what I wanted to know. The problem with him was that he did not permit me to record our conversation. Camera too was not allowed. Those days recorders were not as good and did not have a camera. But a hidden video camera was on.

As narrated by Pabung Budha, they both went to ‘study pilot’ together. Pabung Budhamani got scared and returned to Imphal. Both stories were just the same till then, Pabung Nake’s story was more of woes. After Pabung Budhamani return to Imphal he faced a lot of suffering in Calcutta. His money finished off and he had no food to eat. Calcutta, those days was a land filled with Netaji’s voice. The call for Azad Hind Fauj and Challo Delhi resonated everywhere. The INA movement was very strong. Out of hunger, in search for food, he went up to the ship docked at the river banks of Hoogly and doing the loading, unloading etc, carrying loads just to earn for food. At that point, all that he could think of was food. Everywhere in Calcutta posters of ‘Join INA’ were put up. To try his luck, he enrolled himself. He sailed to Rangoon in a ship. There he underwent a very rigorous training. Most of the training were done in a dense jungle.

The long narratives, in between I crossed and questioned him who were the ones to instruct during the training. To my question, Pabung Nake answered spontaneously “INA was made in alliance with Japan”. It was based on Guerrilla warfare technique, a very rigourous one at that. Secret war strategies of Japanese warfare and technique were learnt. I further questioned him, “the founder of Azad Hind Fauz and the person to raise INA, Netaji Subash Chandra Bose, did you meet him in Rangoon?” Pabung Nake replied he ‘never’ met Netaji but it was a wonder. During the training we were told a very important person would be visiting and we must listen to him. During the training, it was so exhausted he did not want to hear anymore and so quietly sat at the back. One leader of INA came, he spoke a lot, and too exhausted he was dozing and missed out on what was said. Later on came to learn that the speaker was Netaji Subash Chandra Bose. It was never let known in advance that Netaji would be coming and addressing. He came once or twice and spoke. Every time he looked different and we never knew it was him. Only after he spoke and left were we told that it was Netaji. That was the modus operandi of those days. “Had I know that Netaji was coming I would have been sitting at the front and listening to Netaji. This was Pabung Nake’s narrative.

“When asked who the person from Manipur was I raised my hand since I being native and was familiar with the terrain was therefore made the captain and with three Japanese soldiers and seven of the Azad Hind Fauz, a patrolling party team was ordered to leave for Manipur. The person who gave the order was Netaji, It was later talked about. With me as the Captain, I led the team on foot through Rangoon to Manipur crossing Singhat, Churachandpur, then further to Moirang in the month of March. The journey was a month long one. To proclaim the presence of INA in Manipur, a tri-colour flag was hoisted at Hemam Nilamani’s residence. I myself hoisted the flag and established the advance Headquarter. With the Moirang Base Camp efforts were initiated to raise an army of INA. Then he met with many Meitei individuals and held talks and discussions. A strong campaign was on to win more people on their side. Many important Meiteis joined in.

Until now what can be discussed is that the headquarters at INA Moirang was established under the leadership of a Meitei Pangal by the name Nake Ahmed Choudhury. Another thing is, on April 14, 1944 Commander Colonel Shaukat Ali Malik hoisted the INA flag at a public function at Moirang Kangla. I came across the information now this must have been the second time the flag was hoisted. I myself took up the task of finding out the truth of the Meitei Pangal Nake Ahmed Choudhury was the man to hoist the INA flag for the first time. To find out I tried to meet Pabung Heman NIlamani when I heard that he has a house at Sangaiporou. I found out his house got to meet him. This respected elder knew Nake Ahmed Choudhury very well. When Nake was about to put up the flag at the tulsi mound in my courtyard, I told him to please move away to the side a little as that was a sacred space. Nake put up the pole little away towards the side of the house. This, he narrated to me. Some other things I discussed with him were only about Manipur women who were recruited in Ina, he gave me two names, Keinya and Mutum Randhoni. He did not tell me the surname and address of Keinya. The shootouts between the Japanese and the British Soldiers happened at morning and evening always. For aiding the Japanese, K Gopal, L Sanajaoba, Heman Nilamani, Mairenbam Koireng were declared revolutionaries and ordered to be shot at sight by the then Political Agent of Manipur. In the short meeting with Pabung Hemam Nilamani I was given some more names of members of the advance party of INA, Manipur. They were Heman Nilamani, Potshangbam Tomal of Heirangoithong, Laishram Kanhai of Keishamthong, Longjam Bijoy of Keishamthong, Moirangthem Jatra of Bishnupur, Thokchom Angou of Singjamei, Sarungbam Ibohal of Singjamei, and R.K Maipaksana of Chingmathak.

These facts I just mentioned was the truth Pabung Budhamani was fervently seeking for while he was alive.  In his diary these were the things he had left blank. He would not take anybody else’s words, only what Nake Ahmed Choudhury would say be the truth,thethe that was his strongest belief. When Pabung Budhamani wanted to find out the answers to the questions, Pabung Nake did not give a proper response, I later on, learnt the reason for that.

As the writer, I met with the two elders separately and collected their stories, Pabung Yumnam Budhamani and Pabung Nake met at Moirang and while they were talking of INA, Pabung Nake was arrested, this was already mentioned earlier. The part that follows would be the ultimate climax. When I went alone without Pabung Budhamani, I found out that in him there was one huge grudge against Pabung Budhamani. That was the cause of a conflict and affected the relation between them. He felt Pabung Budhamani arranged his arrest. He further narrated, how that day of his arrest was an unforgettable one till the present moment. The military camp at Kakching Lamkhai was a big camp of the British Amry during the days of the Second World War. He was taken there and tortured tremendously. The British soldier took him to be dead and he was thrown away. Because of the severe physical beatings both his ears drums were totally damaged and since then he could hear no sound. This deafness and weak physical condition was the reward for leading the revolt of INA bringing the tri-colour flag and hoisting it for the first time. This the Japanese War veterans knew and felt. Whenever the Japanese war veterans come to Manipur they bring specially made hearing aids for him. As a life member of Indo-Myanmar Association, I used to deliver the hearing aids to him at his house. Thus Pabung Nake and me knew each other.
Earlier I did not know Pabung Nake’s story in detail. Two halves of the story come together. I had understood. One half from Pabung Budhamani, another half by Pabung Nake, I combined the two and one whole was compiled. Pabung Budhamani always thought Pabung Nake to be a very important leader of INA. He considered Pabung Nake to be missing, whether dead or alive or any of his whereabouts. Co-incidentally when I happened to mention a man named Nake to be still alive, turned out to be Nake Ahmed Choudhury of whom Pabung Budhamani has deep regards. So in the year 1996 on June 29 at 8:30 AM they met. This very record was noted down by Pabung Budhamani in his diary. Meeting after a long time they recalled their stories. Pabung Nake held a bitter grudge. He always thought Pabung Budhamani was the informer. A loving friend from his days of youth who once studied with him, one whom he always kept thinking of, only whose words about INA would be the sole truth, this one person has all the while misunderstood him. This made him heart broken. His sincere truth from the heart – I clarified to Pabung Nake. Pabung Nake, he accepted the clarification about his misunderstandings and gave some more names of INA members to find out if they are still alive. If they are alive, told me to organise a meeting and sitting down together with Budhamani, they will then tell the real story, Pabung Nake told me.
The names of Manipuris elders who joined INA in Pabung Nake’s list were same as those given by respected elder Heman Nilamani. One day Pabung Nake called me at home to meet someone. It was also a Meitei Pangal named Kayamuddin Pukhrimayum. Kayamuddin Pukhrimayum, I had already met earlier as a renowned young writer. We three sat down at Pabung Nake’s house. He told me and Oja Kayamuddin, ‘I have told in details about INA to Kayamuddin and made him write it down some stories other than those I have told Ibungo (myself Makhonmani) I have told verbally. You both write my story, thus he entrusted the task. Oja Kayamuddin worked at Government settlement department. He was very busy. Equally busy, we both could not meet often. At times, on his way back from office we used to sit down together and began working on the story. And we decided to start like that.
Carrying out Pabung Nake’s words to organise the meeting soon I started to work upon and found most of them dead. I remember, only one RK Maipaksana to be alive and met him. I report the news to Pabung Budhamani, he was very happy. To give the news I went to Pabung Nake’s house, Pabung Nake had a sudden demise, dead and was buried, to my disbelief a big lock hung on the door of his house. Sorrows come one after another to me. Kayamuddin Pukhrimayum was travelling in a Jeep when it overturned; he too died in the accident. All that was built up crumbled down.
Pabung Budhamani and me, all our dream went in vain. Pabung and me didn’t meet for some time. Later on one more news reached me ‘Ema Langathel Thoinu’s husband Yumnam Budhamani is now no more’. He left this world in the year 2001. The war diary he had written... with no one to fill it up… was still left incomplete. All these are, today, left as a story. Except for some very near and dear one, I had never let out these stories.
The story I am telling is not the complete one yet. There is more. This... is the message from my heart. Seeing INA at Moirang I humbly remember the role performed by the departed souls who are now in the world of Gods. Ignorant as I was whatever I learnt of INA was all because of them. I value deeply. I still remember Pabung Nake’s words till today.
“To win the hearts of the people....! The revolt that people do not support... would be hard to succeed”.

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