TODAY -

August 27, 1965, the sublime sacrifice (a retrospection)

Thoudam Imomacha Singh *

50th Hunger Marchers Day with floral tribute at Pishum Ching and Rally across Imphal :: August 27 2015.
50th Hunger Marchers Day with floral tribute at Pishum Ching and Rally across Imphal on August 27 2015 :: Pix Credit - Shankar Khangembam



"If Manipur lives
Nobody dies,
If Manipur dies
Nobody lives.
"

Such a poetic thought might have inspired the students who had martyred on 27 August 1965. Geographically Manipur maybe a tiny landscape, but historically it was a beautiful ancient kingdom. Jawaharlal Nehru called Manipur "The jewel of India".

It is a nostalgic story that in the then political map of India, Manipur was a Union Territory (UT) in 1965. By then Manipur was also ruled by a Chief Commissioner (CC), who was the sole agent of the centre. He was assisted by a Congress Ministry headed by M Koireng Singh as Chief Minister.

The dreadful memory of the episode still lingers in the minds of those young and old who had come across the pogrom on August 27,1965. Since that day, August 27, is being observed as "Hunger Marcher's Day" (Chaklam khongchat) in Meeteilon, every year till this day.

This year also, the day (27 August) has been observed under the aegis of the All Manipur Students Union (AMSU). It was the most upright social upheaval launched by the community of students in Manipur spearheaded by the apex body of students, namely the AMSU.

A rally was arranged and the main function of commemoration of the day was held at the Multipurpose Hall of Manipur College, Chingamakhong, Imphal. L Saratchandra Sharma, who was the President of the AMSU at the time of 27 August, 1965 episode, has presided over the function.

The Public Distribution System at that time (1965) was handled by Civil Supply Officer and due to the erroneous system of distribution of the most essential foodstuff adopted by the then administration; rice was not available in the markets in Imphal. Since, rice is the staple food of all the inhabitants of Manipur, the non-availability of rice in the markets in Imphal had created a sense of fear in the public mind.

With a view to discuss about the rise of a man-made famine the students of Manipur under the stewardship of the AMSU had organized a public meeting at the Polo Ground, which the Meeteis popularly known as Mapal Kangjeibung. After the meeting, the huge crowd of students headed towards the CC's residence.

But, when the students reached the gate of the CC's residential complex it was found closed under lock and key. At that time there was also a meeting of the VVIPs and the high officials at the CC's office at his residence. The students had made a request for an audience with some responsible leaders. But it was denied. The students, then, forced their entry into the complex of the CC's residence by breaking the lock.

A commotion followed. The security forces on duty there went berserk and they resorted to assault and firing upon the students. The bullets claimed the first three victims namely Laishram Chaobhan, Oinam Nabakumar and Nongmeikapam Pramodini. They were all young leaders of the non-violent agitation of students.

Under such tearful circumstances they were martyred. Some students who were still inside the CC's complex had run into the makeshift AIR Imphal station to hide themselves for fear of assault by security men.

While there was still pandemonium in the street in front of the CC's residence, an AIR Imphal car driven by its chauffeur on duty Waikhom Nelamani had come out on an official errand with a lone passenger of the name of Vishnumooth, a senior officer of AIR. Their vehicle was stopped and asked to ferry some injured persons to a nearby hospital.

At that time the rowdy security men intervened and Nilamani was pierced with a rifle-bayonet into his belly and he breathed his last. Thus, Nilamani joined the rank of martyrs. Vishnumooth was also injured in the scuffle.

In Manipur 27 August, 1965 was the first instance of a public upheaval against the tyranny of a regime in which the students' community alone had taken the lead. Now, everybody has come to know that how well the AMSU could steer a public movement against an autocratic handling of administration in Manipur in the early 1960s.

Today Manipur is a full fledged state since 1972, as such the state government may explore the wisdom to commemorate 27 August 1965 under its own consummate stewardship. It may also be the most befitting reverence for the martyrs.


* Thokchom Linthoingambi Chanu wrote this article to e-pao.net
The writer is M.A English Previous at University of Delhi and can be contacted at lin(dot)chanu7(at)gmail(dot)com
This article was posted on April 22, 2015 and later re-published on August 30 2015.


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