Cause and Impact of Anglo Manipur War 1891
- Part 2 -

Khuraijam Athouba *

 Kendat Expedition 1885 : RKCS Art Gallery
Kendat Expedition 1885 : RKCS Art Gallery
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2. Family disputes among the sons of Meidingu Chadrakriti Maharaj and dissent group seeking asylum to the British:

Family dispute among the heirs of the King in Manipur is not a unique phenomenon of disunity among the royal families. Every royal family in the history of almost all the kingdoms across the globe has had such phenomenon of disunity among the heirs for power and privileges. However, all those kingdom did not face what Manipur faced during 1890-91. So, we cannot say that the family disputes among the sons of Meidingu Chandrakriti Mharaj and seeking asylum to the British could be one of the main cause for the outbreak of Anglo-Manipuri War 1891.

It was the British, who falls prey to this tiny independent kingdom which was self sufficient and had enough courage to face death to defend its pride and honor for their motherland which was underestimated by the then British who were posted and involved in the affairs directly or indirectly.

Since the past one and a half years just after the inception of a committee to review the history and aspects of Anglo-Manipuri War 1891, The Justice Committee for Anglo-Manipuri War 1891 Martyrs and Victims of Kangleipak Manipur has come up with several views and opinions which was not looked upon with due significance and assessed by many as the possible impact of the War.

Post Anglo-Manipur War 1891, as the kingdom of Manipur faced defeat with the death of so many brave and courageous patriots during the war and soon after the war, the British Government of India ordered to arrest all the royal princes who were allegedly involved directly or indirectly in waging war against the British government and all other who were directly involved in the murder of British Officers.

The first execution post War took place at the western gate of the Kangla on 25 May, 1891 where Pukhrambam Kajao (Phingang) was hanged to death all the western gate of Kangla and left hanging for many days to set a lesson to the public about the consequences of revolting against the British.

On june 8, 1891, Niranjan Subedar was executed by the British for taking part in waging war against the British despite his earlier service in the British Army. On 13 August, 1891 Senapati Koirengsana i.e. Bir Tikendrajit and Thangal General was executed by hanging in front of around 5000 people gathered who were expecting the release of the two heroes of Manipur at Pheidabung (Present BT park). This instance of executing our own patriots in front of women and children has given a shocking psychological trauma and set back to the morale of the entire people of the kingdom who loved celebrating braveries and courage.

On 13 October, 1891 another brave and loyal heroes of the soil, Chirai Thangal (Naga) was again executed by hanging in jail for killing the British Telegraph Superintendent Mr. Melvin at Mayngkhang on 25th March, 1891 during the retaliatory attack against the British by the Manipuris.

On 23rd November of 1891, twenty two (22) brave patriots of Manipur including the King Kula Chandradhaja Singh, Angousana, Senapati Aya Purel Major, Chongtha Mia Maj. etc were deported in exile for taking part in the war against the British. Out of the 22 exiled, only seven (7) from among them were allowed to return and settle in Manipur from 1901. All the others either died or were not allowed to enter Manipur for lifetime. (as per the list of Political Prisoners deported from Manipur to kala pani at Andaman & Nicober Island by Justice Committee 1891 from United Chongthas archive).

Witnessing such a tragic end of the proud kingdom and its heroes post Anglo-Manipuri War, the people of the state couldn't overcome to regain its past glory and courage immediately. Even though Manipur continues as an independent state after the War new sources of information and recorded media and archival documents now revealed the truth of the then Manipuri Kingdom and the injustice done by the British to its friendly nation called Manipur.

The Daily Argus News on 10, 1891 made a headline in these words, "WHY QUINTON WAS KILLED? He Burned Helpless Manipur Women and Children,"

The New York Times in its May 16, 1891 issue writes, "The Manipur Blu Book established most decisively the fact that the Government is responsible for the Manipur Disaster." (neScholar.vol 2. Issue 3)

The New York Times in its June 23, 1891 issue published the news again under the heading "…Sur J.E. Gorst resign", (neScholar.vol 2. Issue 3)

In short the impact of Anglo-Manipuri war across the globe was a hit and the little State whose name has been on all English lips for the last fortnight, presents a somewhat thorny question to the British Indian Government. (neScholar.vol.2 Issue 3) The trials of the Manipuri Soldiers who were later captured or surrendered were tried without following proper trial procedure. Telegram among British Officials clearly indicate that capital punishment should be given.

It clearly shows that what they did was a mock-trial. The trial was purely a formality and awarding capital sentences has already been prejudged by violating their own established principle of criminal trial. The request to engage a defense lawyer from Kolkata for Tikendrajit and Thangal was rejected and therefore the least done from the British Authority was to engage a Bengali trader namely Janakinath Basak to assist the court on their behalf just because he can translate the Manipuri language in to English for them.

From these realities of the nature of trial it is quite clear that trial conducted against the princes and patriots of Manipur was highly prejudiced and biased as they already had predetermined to award death penalty before it had actually happened.

Fifty four (54) years after the dramatic and disastrous experiences of a foreign, the arrival and establishment of the deadliest ground with modern weapons, arms and ammunitions has exposed the people of Manipur to the another aftershock of Anglo –Manipur War where huge number of precious lives of the land were lost during the Second World War.

The cumulative effect of this two dreadful events in the course of Manipur history has made the people and its system to hold back themselves from another military aggression or an invasion and beacouse of that , when Manipur was forcibly annexed by the new Independent India in 1949, the people of the state and the masses couldn't rise up against it. Few braved to revolt against it under the leadership of Lamyanba Hijam Irabot with a communist ideology but the general masses were traumatized enough by the recent past historical experiences and therefore couldn't come out to oppose or confront courageously against the forced conspiracy during 1949 affairs to protect or defend its freedom/independence.

Some contentious impacts are also as follows:

Anglo-Manipuri War has made the Political Identity of Manipur in confusion forever since.

This War is the War between two sovereign nations and it should not be considered as the War of few Legendary Manipuri Soldiers, it's a people's War against colonialism.

All Martyrs of the War should also be honored equally.

Positive impact is also significant among the Manipuris, when the generations remember and celebrate its past heroism and the act of valor shown by the legendary rulers and soldiers of the soil. Very few tiny states like Manipur is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to feel proud of their forefather and their spirit of being a free nation and to defend it with pride and honor until their last breath. Annual commemorations and celebrations of the heroes set an example to younger generations and also contribute significantly in inciting the spirit of patriotism and nationalism which will have its relevance forever.

Inception of Civil Societies Organization exclusively for Anglo-Manipuri War 1891 like Justice Committee for Anglo-Manipuri War 1891 Martyrs and Victims of Kangleipak Manipur with the objective to seek justice for the War, to recognize and develop memorial sites for various Battle fields of Anglo-Manipuri War, remember all the heroes and organize commemoration day with pride and honor is the real time impact of the war of the people of Manipur.

Anglo-Manipuri War 1891, is a Victory in defeat for we Manipuris but a big loss for the mighty British in Victory.


* Khuraijam Athouba wrote this article which was published at Imphal Times
The writer is Convenor, Justice Committee for Anglo-Manipur War 1891 and Martyrs and Victims of Kangleipak (Manipur)
This article was webcasted on March 03 2019.

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