TODAY -

Patriots' Day : A precise historical relevance

Samarjit Kambam *

Beheading of Mr Quinton and the officer
Beheading of Mr Quinton and the officer
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Manipur known as Meitrabak or Kangleipak was once an independent princely state upto the end of 19th Century until the British conquered and annexed it into the British Empire's Colonial Rule. The Kangla Fort which has now become a historical monument in the heart of Imphal city was the residence of the many princes or rulers of that time.

During 1886 to 1890, Surchandra was the king of Manipur. The differences, callousness and greed for leadership amongst the royal family paved a gateway for the British Colonial Govt to accomplish their nefarious designs of colonization and suppression of Meitrabak. So, with the meddling and interference of the British, there were many revolts against Surchandra and on 21 Sep 1890 Princes Zila Ngamba and Angousana revolted against Surchandra. Surchandra abdicated his throne and left Meitrabak(Manipur) for Brindavan.

His brother Kulachandra ascended the throne in 1890 and Tikendrajit became the Juvraj. Surchandra requested the British Empire to re-instate him on the throne but the British refused his request and decided to recognize Kulachandra as king of of Meitrabak as he could be used as a puppet by the British and tried to send Bir Tikendrajit to exile as the British knew that the spirit of freedom and love of motherland ran very high in the vein of Tikendrajit right from his very childhood.

Jubraj Tikendrajit alongwith Thangal General and Paona Brajabashi played a major role in the governance of the kingdom of Manipur in the third quarter of the 19th century. They were the heroes of the highest order who thought for the welfare and independence of the motherland.

In order to intimate the decision of the British the Chief Commissioner of Assam Mr. J.W.Quinton was being sent to Manipur with 400 soldiers. Soon immediately after reaching Manipur he called for a durbar. Somehow Tikendrajit came to know that the durbar was a plot to capture him. So he returned home on the pretext of ill health.

Therefore the durbar was held in the next morning at 8 O'clock but could not reach to any consensus. Subsequently the Chief Commissioner expressed his desire to return and requested to arrange a Ras Dance. On the same night the British attacked the palace of Manipur but could not capture Tikendrajit. They tortured women, children and destroyed idols.

Following that there was hot exchange of fire between the Manipuri troops and the British. As no other means was available Quinton sought for an armistice which was agreed to by both sides and the Manipuris also stopped fighting. Later Mr. Quinton, Col Skene, Mr. Grimwood, Cossions and Lt. Simpson left residency for Durbar at the palace.

Even after a long discussion the two parties could not could not crack the ice. As no agreement could come the British Officers started for the residency but they were attacked on their ways by the irate mob and instantly killed Mr. Grimwood & Lt. Simpson.

The surviving British officers, after giving shelter for two hours in the Durbar Hall, were handed over to the public executioner and then beheaded before the Kangla Sha (Dragon). As soon as the news reached, the British authority sent three columns of army at once to Manipur and thus the Anglo-Manipuri war of 1891 began.

The Manipuris or Kangleichas though few in number fought bravely against the British soldiers. But they were no match against the advanced weaponry and strength of British infrantry. Nevertheless, they fought till their last breath. Following the defeat of Manipur in the war the British became the master of Meitrabak and Manipuris lost their dearest freedom and became a colonised people.

The day of 13th August is very important and unforgettable day in the history of the Manipuri nation because the three prominent figures who played a dominant role sacrificed their lives on this very day. This day remind us of the brave sons of the soil. It is no wonder that such a small kingdom with little army stood against the British imperialism and sacrificed their lives as martyrs for the cause of the future generation.

Many unknown soldiers laid down their lives gracefully in order to save the nation from perpetual colonisation by the mighty British imperial forces. It was on this day in 1891 i.e. 121 years ago at Phaidabung known today to the people as Bir Tikendrajit Park where Jubraj Tikendrajit, Thangal General, Kajao, and Chirai Thangal were hanged before the very eyes of general public.

Every year, people of Manipur observe Patriots' Day in remembrance of all those patriots who laid down their lives gracefully for the cause of Manipuri nation challenging the mighty British Empire. They knew very well that defeat is at sight but that never deterred them (Jubraj Tikendrajit, Thangal General and others) thinking that living freely and independently for a moment is better than living in perpetual slavery.


* Samarjit Kambam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on August 14 2013.



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