TODAY -

An intrepid and dynamic General - Sougaijam Balaram Singh
Of the time of Maharaja Chandrakirti Singh of Manipur
- Part 2 -

Waikhom Damodar Singh *

Plaque of General Balaram at 124th Death Anniversary of Gen Balaram at Sougaijam Lampak  May 1 2013
Plaque of General Balaram at 124th Death Anniversary of Gen Balaram at Sougaijam Lampak May 1 2013 :: Pix - TSE



The untold cruelties of the Burmese had created a "mass exodus of the Meiteis" to the neighbouring areas of Assam, Tripura and East Benga-the great population of Meiteis inhabiting these areas is the result of the mass exodus so taken place due to the most unbearable 'atrocities' carried out by the Burmese on the Meiteis, they *the Burmese) had so acted, perhaps with an intention of "annihilating" the Meitei race completely once for all so that they could live without further disturbance from them.

Chourjit, Marjit and Gambhir Singh later on reconciled amongst themselves and thus reunited and they established their Palace ion Shylet (formerly under the erstwhile British Province of Assam as a district and now in Bangladesh after it had been carved out from the so called East Pakistan which existed for a very short period).

The fugitive Manipur princeses, as a preparation to liberate their beloved mother land, Manipur from the occupation of the Burmese, had built up an Army or Militia named Manipur Levi of some 2000 strength with arms received as a part of assistance from the British East India Company who were then their allies and who trained the Meiteis conscripted from the populatiopn living scattered all over Cachar under their officer, Captain Grant.

The Sougaijam family of Moirangkhom, under Hari Singh, later on became Ahallup Lakpa, father of Balaram alias Binda Singh were also a part of the mass Meitei exodus who left Manipur and lived in Cachar. Hari Singh, being a good horseman joined as a mounted trooper in the cavalry column of a strength of 40 horses and sawar fighters of Manipur Levi established by Gambhir Singh, who and his cousin brother, Nar Singh were outstanding horsemen, particularly in war, under an agreement with the British East India Company.

Nar Singh was the commander of the Meitei Levi force in which young Balaram of 18/19 years old, being a good fighter in martial arts, also joined as an ordinary freedom fighter sepoy along with Nepra, later on Menjore (Romoni) and Longjamba Roma bearing Nos 37, 38, 39 respectively in the muster roll of the Levi of the Meiteis conscripted from their scattered population in Cachar.

Thus with the assistance of the British East India Company, who had then their headquarters at Chittagong, near Dacca, the present capital of Bangladesh, as an Ally of the Manipuris, Gambhir SIngh and his Levi force under command of his most courageous younger cousin brother Nar Singh, along with British officers, Captain FJ Grant and Lt RB Pemberton retrieved Manipur from the hands of the Burmese, who were driven away beyond Chindwin-Ningthi reiver completely by July 30, 1825 AD and as was wished and directed by their brother Chourjit Singh at Cachar, Gambhir Singh and Nar Singh washed in the Ningthi river their well famed "Braja Sword" and cleansed away the bloood of the countless Burmese killed by it and hoisted Manipur's Royal Flag bearing God Pakhangba's emblem in his divine Serpentine Form on the other side of the Ningthi river, marking the eastern boundary of Manipur in the presence of British officers and in the historic occasion of which Sougaijam Balaram, as a freedom fighter sepoy of the victorious Manipuri Army was also an eye-witness.

Then Gambhir Singh despatched a group of Manipuri Force of 300 strength under the command of Nar Singh who crossed the Ningthi river and stormed Samsok, the capital of the high handed king Tsabwa with great devastations and a great lesson of vengeance were taught to the Burmese by the invincible column of the Meitei Force, in which young Balaram also participated. Gambhir Singh and Nar Singh, agter returning from their victorious war campaign in Burma then consolidated their power and extended the territory of Manipur by conquering more areas right up to Dihang river on the north including Kohima, Thibomei, present capital of Nagaland and assisted the British in the process of expansion of their power in the North Eastern region-the British easily conquered the Khasis, because of the leading role taken by Gambhir Singh and his gallant Meitei army under their gallant generals.

The book on a "Tribute to Balaram (Bolia Singh) General" describes as-"Genberal Balaram Singh was an able, dynamic and competent leader as well as an expert war strategist. As the Tulihal Major, he commanded one of the seven regiments that composed the Manipur Army and occupied an important place in the State administration. He was called "Bollia Major". As the Chief Major he was also known as "Sougaijamba Poila Major". He subdued many rebellious tribes in the southern hills and brought them under control. He also part in many expeditions against the Awas. He faced and fought the riotious Kuki tribes inhabiting the hills in the south. Through his tireless efforts he earned the confidence of the tribal chiefs and brought truce with them. He made tribal chiefs and their people loyal subjects of the king. Maharaja Chandra Kirti SIngh also in appreciation of Balaram Singh's efforts accepted the Kukis as his trusted and loyal subjects. The king armed the Kukis and entrusted them the task of guarding the border. For his contribution and success in integrating various regions and sections of the people of the State, General Balaram Singh always remained a trusted Minister of the Minister".

After a long period of most distinguished and courageous war services, Sougaijamba Balaram Singh General, breathed his last on May 2, 1889, Wednesday and his 124th death anniversary and laying foundation stone for a library cum research centre building in name was observed on Last May 2, 2013 under the auspices of the members of General Sougaijamba Foundation at Sougaijam Lampak, Moirangkhom, just adjacent to the residence oif ex-Chief Minister RK Dorendra Singh(whose lady Mrs Shanta Devi, one of the daughters of Somorendra Singh is one of the great grand daughters of General Balaram), on the south west with Honourable PWD Minister Dr Kh Ratankumar Singh, Shrimati Sougaijam Saraju Devi and Commissioner, Art and Culture, Government of Manipur, RK Nimai Singh, IAS as chief guest, president and guest of honour respectively.

The function was graced by many distinguished invitees including Lt Col RK Rajendra Singh (Retd) of Yaiskul, Chingakham Leirak and former member of Manipur Human Rights Commission and great researcher and writer of historical facts of Masnipur, Shri B Kulachandra Sharma of Thangapat Mapal, who in their introductory speeches, highlighted the excellent and sacrificed services done by the grand old man for the cause of 'up-keep' of the age old independence and sovereignty of the people.

Out of the sons and grandsons of late Sougaijamba Balaram Singh, Sougaijam Bhuban Singh, Sougaijam Somorendra Singh (Sanajaoba) became Durbar Members (Ministers) at the time of Maharaja Sir Churachand SIngh and his son Bodhchandra Singh-Shir Somorendra Singh was the first student who passed BA in Manipur for which he was given a grand reception with the Maharaja's Brass Band Party on his arrival at home while late Chandam Gulap Babu SIngh, Deputy Inspector of Education (Head of the then Education Department of the State) was the first student amongst all the Meiteis who passed BA from the Presidency College, Calcutta and IA from Murarichand College, Shylet (now in Bangladesh).

Late Shri Sougaijam Dhiren Singh, the youngest brother of Shri Somorendra Singh and the grand son of General Balaram was the best football goal keeper in the North Eastern region during the 1940s, in the name of whom it will be really worth to donate a running trophy for an All India Football Tournament. The two nephews of Shri Dhiren Singh, namely Sarvashri S Lalitkumar Singh, retired Chief Engineer and his younger brother S Somorjit Singh, ex-Councillor of Imphal Municipal Council, Ward No. 14 were also the best football goal keepers of Manipur during the 1950s.

It will also be really worth it is the General Balaram Sougaijamba Foundation Committeee seriously consider instituting a running trophy in Polo and Equestrian tournaments of Manipur, if possible of All India status, in the name of their Grand-Sire, Sougaijamba Hari Singh for "remembering" his priceless services done as one of the gallant horse troopers of the Manipur Levi Force during the period of liberation of Manipur from the hands of the merciless Burmese.

Really, it will be worth it, if the State Government of Manipur also take over the annual function of observing the death anniversary of one of its most "gallant and patriotic sons"-General Sougaijamba Balaram Singh, who also surmounted many "herculean and hazardous stasks" for the liberation and "up-keep" of freedom of the people, by installing a befitting status of his as a State Function so that the people, more in number, could pay their "due homage" to the dynamic and unforgettable hero of the then sovereign Manipur also.



Concluded ..


* Waikhom Damodar Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on June 26, 2013.



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