The Right Track
Soon after the end of the Anglo-Manipuri War, 1891, a kangaroo court, which derived its authority solely from a special commission, sentenced many bravehearts of Manipur including Maharaj Kula Chandra Singh, the King of Manipur and several other high-ranking military officers and leaders to either death or deportation to Kalapani for life. While Yubraj Tekendrajit Bir Singh @ Koireng Yubraj, Thangal General, Pukhramba Kajao @ Phingang, Niranjan Subedar and Chirai Naga were hanged, 1. Kula Chandra Singh, King of Manipur, 2. Angousana Singh, Senapati, 3. Lokendra Birjit Singh, Wangkheirakpa (Duke of Wangkhei), 4. Colonel Samu Singh, Luwang Ningthou (King of Luwang Salai), 5. Major Chongtham Nilamani Singh @ Chongtha Aya Purel Major, External Affairs Minister, 6. Major Chongtha Mia (original name: Chongtham Iboton Singh), Commander of Manipuri troops at Khongjom Battle, 7. Ingudum Ghana Singh, Jemadar, 8. Chingsubam Ningthouba Singh, Jemadar, 9. Thouba Singh, Jemadar, 10. Mangshatabam Tonjao Singh, Jemadar, 11. Heikrujam Chaobaton, Subedar, 12. Ghowkami (Naga), 13. Gowho (Naga), 14. Abungjao Yenkhoiba, Lalup Chingba, 15. Laishram Khamba Singh, Machahal, 16. Usham Aru Singh, Lalup Chingba, 17. Khomdram Ghana Singh, Lalup Chingba 18. Hidam Chaobi, Machahal, 19. Mayengbam Dhojo, Machahal 20. Nepram Noni Singh, Machahal, 21. Nongthonbam Trilok Singh, Executioner, 22. Sagolsem Dhono Singh, Executioner, and 23. Ashangbam Paradhumba Singh, Kut (Havildar) were deported to Kalapani. This list of twentythree political prisoners is available in the custody of the National Archives. The Manipur State Archives has a record of twenty-two, which excludes Abungjao Yengkhoiba (serial number 14) in the above list.
Just two days before the unveiling of the monolith of the Heroes Deported to Kalapani installed at BT Park, the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri N. Biren Singh who is also the Minister of Art and Culture Department, to the utter astonishment of the public, made a declaration of inscribing names of eighteen bravehearts in the media. As soon as the writer of this article got the information of inscribing 18 names, he went to meet the Commissioner of Art and Culture Department, Shri M. Joy at his residence and he flatly declared that he knew nothing of it and the Convener of the Committee, Shri Shashikanta had all the details. Then the writer went to the complex and found only 18 names had been inscribed. Shri Shashikanta was not there but his assistant was informed of the names left in the inscription. The assistant assured of adding the names left. Then the writer having doubts submitted a memorandum regarding the matter to the Hon,ble CM immediately. But when the monolith was unveiled, only 21 names were found on the plaque leaving the names of Usham Aru Singh and Abungjao Yengkhoiba.
Now the question that comes to the mind of the people, who want to keep the state history on the right track, is who briefed the Hon’ble CM. Why was the Hon’ble CM informed with wrong data? Was there some conspiracy to defame the spirit of the Hon’ble CM? Was it because of bias intention against the heroes? Or was it because of lack expertise or carelessness on the part of the so-called Expert Committee constituted for this? The Art and Culture Department of Manipur Government, which has been shouldering the responsibility of installation of the Memorial Monolith ought to clarify on this matter – Why 18 names of the heroes instead of 23. The list excludes the following heroes:
1. Major Chongtham Nilamani Singh @ Chongtha Aya Purel Major (serial No. 5)
2. Chingsubam Ningthouba Singh, Jemadar (serial No. 8)
3. Mangshatabam Tonjao Singh, Jemadar (serial No. serial No. 10), and
4. Usham Aru Singh, Lalup Chingba (serial No. 16).
Throwing away the names of the above four heroes from the list of the deported heroes is a great insult not only to the heroes but also to their descendents. Nothing can compensate such an offence. Besides this, there are several rooms for rectification regarding the inscription of the names. A few examples may be mentioned as follows:
1. First, the number of heroes deported to Kalapani should be fixed.
2. Secondly, the list of the heroes need rewriting making a serial according to rank and posts held. In the present context, Major Chongtham Nilamani Singh, holding the post Aya Purel comes in the serial No. 20. This means that his name comes under the names of Subedar, Jemadars, Lalup Chingbas, Machahals, Kut and persons devoid of ranks.
3. Thirdly, spelling of the names of these heroes needs correction. The Manipuri names as they were not familiar to the British, they recorded the names in their style. The spelling of ‘Khamba’ was recorded as ‘Kumba’. This is correct in their perspective. K is pronounced as kh when stressed and ‘u’ can be pronounced as ‘Ù/ç’. But we should not pronounce Kumba as |kûmbç|. The experts are writing |kûmbç| for Kumba/Khamba in Meitei Mayek [Meitei script]. This is an indication of sheer of idiocy of the Committee. Many more spellings need correction.
4. Fourthly, it is better to inscribe the names with their corresponding ranks.
5. Fifthly, the names of the heroes who were hanged at Imphal should be removed from the list of the deported heroes as they were never deported to Kalapani. The new complex is specially installed for those who were exiled to Kalapani.
6. Lastly, but not the least, the wordings designed on the present plaque is unattractive. It needs catchy, heart-touching words at appropriate places.
To conclude, the Art and Culture Depart is earnestly appealed either to install a new plaque with complete names correctly inscribed or erase the names and rewrite them properly as suggested above. It may worth mentioning that if these are not corrected immediately, the public will be misguided and a new controversy will be created in the history of the state which has been already laden with many controversies such the date of Khongjom Battle. The wrath of the people will fall on the officials who had taken the responsibility for this installation. On the other hand, people will appreciate them if the errors are rectified at the earliest.