Pu Ngulkhup - 'The Patriot of Kuki War of Independence' (1917 -1919)
- Part 3 -

Espirit de corps *

The first Battle of Tuibom (Now Chakpikarong): The British have learnt that the Kuki - militia had formed under the leadership of Pu Ngulkhup to rebel their diktats. Hence, the strategy of the British Government was to capture Pu Ngulkhup by all means, which would naturally meant defeating the southern regions of Manipur. The secret planned of the British Government was made known to the Kuki militia (Sepoys) through intelligence source. Since winning of war depend very much on true intelligence source, therefore, they ( the Kuki - Sepoys ) bribed one "Meitei friend" from Sugnu by giving Rs 5/- ( five) to spy out the British and informed them at anytime.

As such, and in order to know what is going to happen, they performed a traditional ritual (Ah kengsaan) for a sign of good or bad omen by strangulating a cock .... the process in which the movement of a cock's leg was seen to make out the sign .... was perhaps, a good omen. However, by hearing the untimely crowing of the cock (Ahse khon) which is a bad omen was a matter much to be worried and doubted.

An ode Composed because of untimely crowing of the cock (Ahse khon) :
''Phacham sitlei kiling e gil a ba al
Lungching in veicha mang som in"
The untimely crowing of a cock which is a sign of bad omen Made everyone around worried and restless.
Despite the fact, they were opted to convince ... after all, it's a war.

Hence, they all set out with a do or die decision to reach the battlefield called ''Tuibom'' the place where they way laid the British. After reaching the battlefield Pu Sumthong Dy C-in-C declared that Pu Paokhotil Lunkim is entrusted to open the fire and ordered the rest to hold their fire until the firing of Pu Paokhotil is heard. The Dy C-in-C (pu Sumthong) warned with .. "Woe betide him .. " to those who breaks the order.

Accordingly from the intelligence source of their ''Meitei - friend" from Sugnu the British Soldiers reached the battlefield ''Tuibom'' exactly at 12 noon and as they( British) were trying to cross the river Pu Paokhotil Lunkim opened the firing by targeting the leader of the British soldiers did not miss and killed him on the spot.

Then the rest started firing from all directions and 6 (six) more british soldiers were killed, all together 7 (seven) British soldiers were killed at Tuibom. The surviving soldiers then retreated back with the cropse of their slained leader towards Sugnu. And the Kuki - Sepoys too returned to Lonpi. The next day they went down to Tuibom for a check out and there was the corpses of 6 soldiers, a cap worn by the slained leader and a gun called - "Jangdem" was recovered from the spot.

The cap worn by the killed leader and the gun (Jangdem) were collected and taken to Lonpi .... with shouting and singing HANLA (Victory Song). And there was a big ritual celebration of victory with singing the songs of HANLA (Victory Song). All these events were recorded from Pu Paokhotil Lunkim during his lifetime who was an eyewitness (Kuki - militiaman).

The Cap worn by the slained leader of the British soldiers was taken to Chahsat and offered it to Chahsatpa (chief of Chahsat) being the head of Haokip families as a mark of respect. And as a token of Love, gratitude and in memoriam an ode was composed by "Chahsat - Inpinu" (Wife of chief of Chahsat) as below:
" Keila khoi ang kakiton Phung gol laitha laisim lun Khotin dong nol e."
Meaning: Despite all my imperfections
My families with a remarkable token Honour me worthily worthwhile Passing through all the gates
With well wide recognition.

The second Battle of Khumkot : The Second attack of the British was a real setback for the Kuki - Sepoys. The battlefield where the British soldiers were way laid was at "Khurnkot" near Tuithoi river. Due to the places of their positions not well - planned and the location much unsuitable, the Kuki sepoys were defeated at" Khurnkot."

Pu Thangkhopao whose thigh got hit by the bullet was brave enough to take a safer position who could then managed to kill 4 (four) British soldiers. He could neither moved due to his fatally injured nor shoot for all his bullets and gun powder were out of stock, who was then captured by the British soldiers and cut him into pieces with knives and died a heroic death. Pu Thangkhopao was really admired by the British because of his bravery.

Lonpi burnt and destroyed: Since the Kuki - Sepoys were defeated at the battle of "Khurnkot," all the Sepoys and civilians of Lonpi village were scattered for safer places in the jungles. The British soldiers then rushed in and captured Lonpi Village in which all the 70 (seventy) houses were burnt to ashes, only sparing the house of the chief( Pu Ngulkhup) but without sparing a single domestic animals. The British soldiers set up a camp at Lonpi and settled there for quite a long time. Many Kukis were made" Prisoners of war" at Lonpi camp, while they (the British) keep on hunting the whereabouts of Pu Ngulkhup.

Pu Ngulkhup warranted for arrest: The Kuki war of Independence ( 1917 1919) was almost over, but the Kuki - militia leaders were all warranted for arrest while the harassment meted out to the public were in much eased than ever before. Hence, most of the leaders had surrendered, Pu Ngulkhup who was taking refuge in Tamu (Myanmar) also came back to his village Lonpi and called back all the scattered villagers for resettlement. But he was arrested soon after reaching Lonpi because the British soldiers were still camping at Lonpi village at his own house.

Why Pu Ngulkhup was imprisoned: The first reason for his imprisonment was because of dishonouring the British Government's order regarding "Cha-ga poh" (carrying of tea seed) from Burma to Assam. He was imprisoned at Imphal jail for 6 (six) months and it was before his marriage. The second reason for his imprisonment .. (being taken as prisoner of war) for 3 (three) years in Sodya Island was because of being the leader of the Kuki - militia, fighting the might of the British Empire.

When Pu Ngulkhup was arrested the Britishers called him the KUKI WAR HERO because he did not surrender till the end (ie - till he was arrested ). Most of Pu Ngulkhup's life as a patriot who sacrificed for the cause of the public was not "a bed of roses". He died a noble death at his home at a ripe of old age by performing his funeral rites with honour and respect.

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 05th April 2010.

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