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Need to rewrite a complete history

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By: Chongtham Tomba Singh
The account of the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891 in custody of the Manipur Government is incomplete. That is why only three patriots are honoured as heroes of the war while actually countless Manipuri heroes were martyred in the battlefield and several heroes were exiled in the Andamans. Only the government would know why the commemoration of the heroes is confined to only the three heroes. The government ought to answer why it selected only those three and obliterate the other heroes from its official memory and commemoration.
That more than three hundred Manipuri soldiers including high officers martyred in the Anglo-Manipuri War is well recorded. Many of them are unknown to the public. Some of the leaders are also excluded from the commemoration. I would like to mention some names of the patriots who laid down their lives in the fighting.
In the wee hours of March 24, 1891, the British soldiers under the personal supervision of Col. Skene attacked the residence of Yubraj Tekendrajit from the north and west with the objective of capturing Tekendrajit. No British soldiers doubted their success though the Pat was full of men. The fighting between the British soldiers and the Manipuri soldiers continued the whole day. Lieutenant Brackenbury led a force consisting of 30 rifles to attack from the northern gate of the Pat. However, he was shot as soon as he crossed the gate and later he succumbed to injury. His subedar Heem Chunad and Halvidar were also shot dead and almost his thirty men eventually found their way back to their camp in driblets. On the Manipuri side, Pukhranba Tangko, after killing an enemy, died in the hand-to-hand fighting.
The names of twenty Manipuris who were killed in the residence of Tekendrajit were:
1. Khongbatabam Sanahal
2. Kangabam Chaoba
3. Heikha Chaoba
4. Laishram Tonu, Havildar
5. Wahengba Kut
6. Ngairangba Kut
7. Laishraba Kut
8. Pukhranba
9. Ningomba
10. One man of Lamabam clan
11. One man of Angom clan
12. Naharakpa
13. Tera Mo-Khongba
14. Four boys
15. Two girls
16. One priest.
The British also set eight houses on fire in three Leikais namely Usham Leikai, Yambem Leikai and Shaikhom Leikai. Yambem Tolenkhomba, one of the owners of the house whose house had been set ablaze, was shot dead when he tried to put out the fire. At this juncture, Maharaja Kula Chandra sent Khumbong Subedar, Leishang Jemadar, Athokpam Dewan and Chongtha Miya to fight the enemy who were killing civilians and burning their houses. There was a severe fighting and three of the four Manipuris fell by enemy bullets. Only Chongtha Miya returned alive.
Pukhranba Tangko, Khumbong Subedar, Leishang Jemadar and Athokpam Dewan, who laid down their lives while fighting, deserve to be honoured as heroes for the fighting on March 24. But their names were not found in the pages of the official history of the government. The names of other persons who were also killed on that day mentioned above can be inscribed on a plaque and erected at a suitable place.
When the fighting on March 24 took place, there were 508 native soldiers, 11 native officers and 8 British officers in Manipur. The Manipuris countered the enemy attack and in the evening they could dominate the situation. The enemy soldiers of all ranks fled helter-skelter leaving the Residency. More than fifty of them were arrested and put behind the bars. How valiant the Manipuri soldiers were! They all deserve to be honoured as heroes. However, none of them is remembered till date. This is quite unfortunate. Obliterating these heroes from our state history is nothing but to commit a great sin to those heroes.
Similarly, in the battle of Thoubal Athokpam, the Manipuris could make the enemy retreat. But Manipur lost more than twenty soldiers including Sanakhya Yaiskul Lakpa (Haojoumacha Major) and his son Sanahal (Senggoisana) who were shot dead while scaling the enemy stockade. They deserved to be honoured as heroes. Without their history our history will be incomplete.
At Kakching Manao Ching, the party of Wangkhei Meiraba Poila was ambushed by the British and seventeen of them including Wangkhei Meiraba were killed. They also deserve to be remembered. They are yet to be remembered.
In the battle of Khongjom too, more than three hundred Manipuri soldiers were martyred. Among them, Chinglensana Phungganai Shanglakpa, Khumbong Major, Loitongba Jemadar, Keisa Jemadar and Heirang Khongja may be mentioned. But who remembers them?
Besides these martyrs, there were also a number of other heroes who bravely fought the enemy in that war and became cripple. There were also several heroes who were deported to the Andamans. They took vital roles according to their rank. How will our history be complete sans their accounts? Thus our state history is incomplete and it needs to be rescripted. All inclusive formulas must be applied lest our future generations will be deprived of the historical facts. I hope the government of Manipur lends an ear to this clarion call.
(The writer is President, United Chongthas)

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