Pu Ngulkhup - 'The Patriot of Kuki War of Independence' (1917 -1919)
- Part 2 -

Espirit de corps *

Pu Ngulkhup'" The Patriot" (Son of Pu Ngulsuong)
New Era under the Bristish ruled: The era of Pu Ngulsong ended with the beginning of a new chapter with Pu Ngulkhup whose life is to undergoa new course under the british regime.

Cha-ga poh (Carrying of Tea seed) : It was in the year (1915 - 1916) cha-ga poh (carrying of tea seed) from Burma to Assam that took a complete 12 (twelve) days to walk on foot to reach Assam from Burma was a "decreed" of the British Government to be obeyed by every one. The order specifically directed the Hill people to be engaged for the "Porter" .

As such, only the Hill people were made porter labourer that resulted to a much miserable lives in the Hills. This made Pu Ngulkhup with rage and openly refuted to the "Lambus" that .... don't ever come to us again for this" Porter Labourer". The Lambus begged to Pu Ngulkhup that we are only Government's Servant and refuting to us would be meaningless, instead you go to Rangoon and meet the Governor there. Thus, they parted with a heated exchange.

Pu Ngulkhup Sending Telegraph to England: Pu Ngulkhup left for Rangoon with an interpreter to meet the Gorvernor. When meeting the Governor in Rangoon he directly said to the Governor that .... "We the Kukis would be no more a porter Labourer for carrying of tea seed (Cha-ga poh )". The Governor then said to Pu Ngulkhup to give information to the King of England. Then Pu Ngulkhup sent a Telegraph to the King of England, telling him as he had said to the Governor.

Pu Ngulkhup returned to his Village from Rangoon. Just after reaching his Village he was summoned to the Manipur Darbar to clarify about the Telegraph he had sent to the King of England. As he was about to go to the Darbar his girlfriend Miss Limlam stopped him and he stayed back. The Next day the Lambus came to meet him with a date fixed for his appearance in the Darbar and left him with a warning that he would be arrested if he fails to turn -up.

Compliance with the date being fixed by the Lambus for his appearance in the Darbar, Pu Ngulkhup came to Imphal, but he was arrested then and there and imprisoned him for 6 (six) months. From that time onwards there was no more" Porter Labourer" for Cha-ga poh (carrying of tea seed ) and the miserable Lives of the people were eased and totally alleviated. The Hill people specially the Kukis were freed from the bondage of" Cha-ga poh" (carrying of tea seed) because of the heroic sacrificed of Pu Ngulkhup. Although he had endured many hardships, his heroic deeds and fame gained a momentum each day.

An Ode composed on Cha-ga poh :

"Ija gol ang nenjou Iou
Chin cheng khoi jang kitona Koljang gam lei cha-ga poh "
What does it Profit,
When every one in common
Borne the burden of "Cha-ga poh,"
In the stretch out valley of Burma.

Pu Ngulkhup summoned to Manipur Darbar :Col. HWG Cole the officiating political Agent of Manipur called Pu Ngulkhup to Manipur Darbar, but instead of going to the Darbar he sent a letter of disobedience to the order as below.

(i) The first World War was not a war of the Kukis. We are not joining the Labour Corps, and will not be going to France.
(ii) The House - Tax Rs. 3 / - for one year is uncalled for, because we the Kukis are not under the rule of the British.

These above statements are the resolutions being passed and adopted by the Kuki Chiefs, Leaders and general Public.

The Meeting of Mrs Cole and Pu Ngulkhup : Like his father Pu Ngulkhup was well known in the southern region of Manipur. Being the most prominent Chief: the officiating political Agent Col. HWG Cole before he left for France entrusted his wife Mrs Cole to meet Pu Ngulkhup Chief of Lon pi. Mrs Cole came all the way from Imphal and met Pu Ngulkhup with an interpreter at Sugnu ill. In their meeting Mrs Cole said to Pu Ngulkhup .... Let us be friend .... and tell me how big is the areas of your land. Pu Ngulkhup replied and said my land is from TARET upto ZANGDUNG . Mrs Cole then said .... Mr Ngulkhup" nakok sanajomge" (your head will be decorated with gold) and I will make you a king in your native land of TARET upto ZANGDUNG . Besides, your village would be well guarded by soldiers and the houses will be roofed with tins. Above all, a "chariot" would be provided for you so that you'd never go walking on foot again. And you would be given a land much more Larger than what you have now.

However, the verdict given by Mrs Cole to Pu Ngulkhup was that, in case you don't accept my proposals you will never ever escaped from me, and without any warning you would be taken as captive. With these words Mrs Cole share a glass of wine to Pu Ngulkhup, but he refused to accept the wine, saying ..... " I had never shared a wine with woman." He Further said, I cannot decide alone without the decision of my People. He parted with Mrs Cole by saying ..... let's meet and talked some other day.

General meeting for crucial decision: It was a crucial time for Pu Ngulkhup to decide whether to be on the British side and be a king, or to be according to the wishes of the people and endured sufferings. At this juncture of critical situation Pu Ngulkhup killed one Mithun and convened a general meeting of the Kuki Chiefs, leaders and the public for making a decision. The decision being resolved and adopted in the general meeting were as follows :

It is much preferable to die in our native land than to obey the British diktat and go to France to wage war against the Germans. Some of the burning questions being raised in the meeting were, what benefit we have got from the British? Why the British imposed and levied House - Tax on us?
The general meeting thus unanimously resolved not to go to France and rather pledged to fight the british with "no retreat no surrender." Hence, THINGKHO LE MELCHAPOM (a hot chilli tied on to smouldering fire wood) " a signalled for declaring a war" was dispatched to every nook and corner of the Kuki Villages, which automatically indicates that a war was declared against the British.

The war strategy: The general body meeting of the Kuki Chiefs, leaders and the Public have also appointed the war leaders ( ie. - for Manipur Southern region )and designated them with their ranks as follows:
(1) Pu Ngulkhup - Commander - in - chief
(2) Pu Sumthong (Chief Of Toitung) - Deputy Commander -in - Chief.

The rest battalion were made and christened after the daughters of "Lonpite" (Lonpi - dynasty) as follows:
(1) 1 st Bn. - (Sonkhoneng Battalion)
Pu Holso of Lon pi, Commanding Officer (C.O.).
(2) 2nd Bn. - (Chinlam Battalion)
Pu Vumjahel Touthang, Commanding Officer
(C.O.). (3) 3rd Bn. - (Jamkhoneng Battalion)
Pu Semthang Lhangum, Commanding
Officer (C.O.).

The Commanding Officer (C.O.) of the 3rd Bn. Pu Semkhothang Lhangum was entrusted to supervise all the three battalions, while Pu Paolet Khongthang was made Captain and Pu Khatlim as Havildar Major. The war leaders were appointed in clanwise and like the Government soldiers they were active and vigilant. They maintained a well and good discipline and called themselves as "Lonpi - Sepoy." Likewise, "Longja - Sepoy" was also formed and Pu Ngulbul Chief of Longja was made its Commander - in - Chief.

To be continued......

* Courtesy: Espirit de corps, a souvenir released in connection with the unveiting of the statue of Pu Ngulkhup Haokip, Kuki war hero. This was published in Huieyen Lanpao - English Edition. This article was webcasted at on 30th March 2010.

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