Rainbow resistance and freedom movement against British colonialism
- Part 2 -

Lt Gen (Dr) Konsam Himalay Singh *

The resistance to the British hegemony and their administration began soon after their entry into the region. In 1832, the Khasis fought the British forces by a series of guerilla actions against the British to ensure that the British intrusion into the area was stopped. The Britishers wanted to occupy the Khasi Hills due to its salubrious climate akin to Scotland.

The Jaintias, another tribal group who inhabited the eastern part of the present day Meghalaya fought the British against their taxation system and to protect the traditional customs. However they were defeated and British control was established in early 19th century.

During the 1857 rebellion or the First War of Independence, people of Assam offered resistance in the form of non-cooperation. Many leaders in Assam were executed for their role in the non-cooperation movement particularly in the Nagaon district of Assam. The winds oforganised resistance as part of overall Indian freedom movement against the British were first felt in the Brahmaputra and the Surma valleys (Cachar district) of Assam.

British intrusion into the Angami village Khonoma, in present day Nagaland during 1880 resulted in heavy losses of British infantry and of the Angamis by the swift retaliation of the British. The Angamis made treaty with the Britishers soon thereafter. This resistance is one of the fiercest episode in the Naga territory.

The Anglo-Manipuri war in 1891 is also manifestations of revolt against the British Govt policies when the latter tried to ensure extinction of the kingdom of Manipur. The Kingdom of Manipur was used as a buffer against the Burmese empire by the British during the early days of British arrival in the region. However after the British victory in 3rd Anglo-Burmese war in 1885, the British saw no reason to tolerate a strong Manipuri kingdom.

Hence, the British decided to annex Manipur by taking advantage of alleged palace in fighting and intrigues was reported. The British employed over 4000 troops against approximately 4000 Manipuri soldiers to protect the kingdom. Victoria Cross was awarded to Lt Grant of British Army during the campaign against the brave Manipur Army.

The king of Manipur, Maharaja Kulachandra was imprisoned in Andaman island after the defeat of Manipur. Recently, Mount Harriet in the Andamans where the Maharaja was lodged in a jail was renamed as Mount Manipur by the Union Home Minister. The British is believed to have offered the throne to the same Maharaja in return for his allegiance to the British Empire.

However, the king chose to remain in jail rather than be under the British rule in the kingdom. A few others like Maj Gen Thangal and the regent Bir Tikendrajit who played a role in the killings of British officers in Kangla (Capital Fort) were hanged for waging war against the empire .

On the other hand resistance to the British were also building up in the Manipur hills. Rani Gaidinliu of Manipur Hills consolidated her followers to reject Christianity and challenge the British administration in the hills of Manipur and erstwhile Assam during 1930s. Armed resistance against the British were carried out under her leadership. Mr Nehru honored her after independence of India.

Kukis and Lushais from Southern Hills carried out a number of raids against British expansion eastwards from Chittagong. These raids were against British expansion in the hills of the region. The tribes also carried away heads of the Britishers and looted their belongings. During 1871, the first of the military operations against Lushais were undertaken to subjugate the tribe.

The Kuki rebellion took place in Manipur Hills during 1918-1920 to challenge the British policy of forced recruitment to the Labour Corps during WW1. The Kukis also challenged the British taxation system in the hills. The Kukis fought bravely in the hills of Manipur as well as in a few parts of present day Assam and Myanmar as well.

In the present day Arunachal Pradesh, various tribes like Daflas and Akka resisted British intrusions in the region during 1850-1880s. The tribes carried out multiple raids and carried away prisoners and properties of the British. However, these tribes were also subdued in due course of time. In this connection British Expeditions of 1850 and 1883 in the present day Arunachal Pradesh are notable.

Most of these uprisings against the British colonization over a period between 1826 (Treaty of Yandaboo) were isolated and un-coordinated efforts by the kings and local chieftains to challenge the hegemony of the British in their respective areas except in Brahmaputra Valley and Surma Valley where freedom movements as part of the National awakening were seen.

Further Gandhiji’s visit to Assam in 1921 invigorated the freedom struggle in the region. Quit India Movement in 1942 also saw a very active participation of the Assamese people including women folk once again in the Brahmaputra valley in particular. A prominent leader of Assam, Kushal Konwar was hanged after the movement for his role in the movement.

World War 2 (1942-44) saw the emergence of INA (Indian National army) under Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. INA forces were part of the Japanese invasion of Manipur and Naga hills in 1943. Many people from these areas opted to assist the INA in their struggle to liberate India from the clutches of the British. These individuals were later given the status of freedom fighters.

World War 2 brought the Japanese and British forces against each other in the battles of Imphal and Kohima. There were considerable support to the INA in their fight alongside the Japanese to liberate India from the British. The Japanese forces and the INA forces reached within 20 miles of the capital Imphal.

There are over a hundred freedom fighters from Manipur who joined or directly collaborated with the INA during the period. The first INA flag was hoisted at Moirang a small town in the south of Capital city Imphal on 14th April 1944 by Colonel Shaukat Ali Malik of the INA with the help of many Manipuris in the area.

As part of the scheme to honor and project the INA, the erstwhile brigade HQ of the INA at Moirang has been given a facelift with the generous funding from the Centre. Hence, Moirang in Manipur stands out as a symbol of freedom movement of India. On the other hand the raising of the Assam Regiment in 1941 brought many to join the regiment to serve the British Indian army.

Such towering personalities like Captain Maharaj Kumar Priyobarta , the younger brother of the King of Manipur and Brig T Sailo of Mizoram who were later Chief Ministers of Manipur and Mizoram respectively also served in the Assam Regiment. Major Khating of the same Regiment earned his Military Cross while fighting alongside the British against the Japanese forces.

The British Indian army also played a significant role in India’s gaining freedom as well and Assam Regiment was part of the British Indian army even though they were fighting for the British during the great war.

The mainstream Indian history does not find much mention of the resistance by various North Eastern tribes and princely kingdoms. It is however an undeniable fact that various groups carried out relentless and fierce resistance to the British Rule right from the beginning of their incursion to the region till the British left India in 1947.

The contribution of the people of the region towards overall efforts of the mainstream Indian freedom movement need to be recorded and recognized by the historians. These rainbow resistance may have been isolated ones, and their actions were largely to protect their land and identities. But, these certainly contributed in no small measure directly or indirectly to the matrix of the overall freedom movement of India.

Concluded ...

* Lt Gen (Dr) Konsam Himalay Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a Manipur based army veteran and former Chairman of Manipur Public service Commission.
Saw action as a Commanding Officer in Chalunka and Siachen during the Kargil War.
Was GOC and later Corps Commander in J&K during 2011-2015.
Authored 'Romancing the Line of Control' 2011 and 'Making of a General, A Himalayan Echo' 2021.
Presently, a Visiting faculty in Central Manipur University and Member of Consultative Group on Naga Talks
This article was webcasted on June 18 2022.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Top 3 Museums in Manipur
  • COVID-19 Status 28 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Opening a new door : A Closure
  • 100 Trees Planted in memory of Dr Kishan
  • Serendipity :: Poem
  • The Agnipath Yojana : Deify or demonise ?
  • On Govt's move to carry out delimitation
  • Fertiliser : Govt assures, farmers unsatisfied
  • More than putting vehicle into motion
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • ILP Check point at Jiri : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 27 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The untold story, lest it be forgotten
  • Assistance to victims of Assam Flood
  • A glimpse of 'Yangna Paikhredako Punshi'
  • Market innovations in developing country
  • Anti-drug day expose state pathetic situation
  • The wedge amongst the Nagas
  • Coming of Manipur University in 1980
  • COVID-19 Status 26 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Laitonjam Lanchenba: Best Swimmer
  • Our capital Imphal - the city of sanity
  • Workshop : ND & PS Act, 1985
  • Mara Prabhu - Lord of the trees
  • Essence of international anti-drug day
  • July 1 : Taking the fight to plastic
  • Miss Shirui Lily 2022 #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Flesh Trade : Connection between Goa & NE
  • Importance of Soil Testing & Management
  • ST status Vs Classical language for Meetei
  • Life, faith and belief
  • MANISFA General Secretary appointed
  • Flood Watch : 23rd June #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Community led in ensuring HIV treatment
  • Approach to ideology & development
  • Solar Energy solution for healthcare facility
  • Yoga for health, beauty and immunity
  • Innovation Prize Launched for Designers
  • Knotty higher education sector
  • Classical language status and ST demand
  • Flood Watch : 23rd June #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Birds and Bees Talk launched 3rd phase
  • Luck matters, Rio's first entry into cabinet...
  • Need to deal with dumping of waste materials
  • Training on mushroom at Nagamapal
  • 1961 as base year: Take it or leave it
  • 10 years too late : JCILPS
  • Phamnaiba Jagoi @ Thangjing : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Women's cleanliness enjoys equal rights...
  • Life in some hill villages
  • The MCI Restoration II
  • 'BRO Cafes' on 75 border roads
  • Protest over boundary row headache for Govt
  • Issues on the indigenous question
  • Drug Menace In Manipur : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 June : Govt of Manipur
  • ST tag for Meiteis - A perspective!
  • Manipur State Welfare : Politics 1-0 Citizens
  • International Yoga Day at Assam Rifles
  • International Yoga Day at IBSD Imphal
  • International Yoga Day at NSU Imphal
  • Manipur Lokyukta: Fighting against corruption
  • Vision to distribute local rice under NFSA...
  • Taking the fight to the drug menace
  • Landslides - Imphal-Jiri [Jun 17] : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Thangjing in folklore of Koireng tribe
  • Health Workshop on Diabetes at Pune
  • Everyone is a thief :: Poem
  • E- barton for CM & Governor
  • Intensive cultivation of vegetables
  • High time to encourage e-vehicle operators
  • Scripting success story with Rs 500
  • Leima Jagoi by Transgender #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 June : Govt of Manipur
  • June 19 2022 : Father's Day message
  • Nine Hills One Valley : Ottawa Film Fest
  • Shirui Lily Festival or mud festival ?
  • Yoga for Women organised
  • Flight link to Mandalay dream come true
  • Action of Govt needs to be backed
  • 21st Great June Uprising #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The Great June 18 Uprising :: News Timeline
  • Revive environmentalism in Meetei ethos
  • COVID-19 Status 17 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Elephant army of Lord Guruvayurappan
  • Who will be next at Rashtrapati Bhawan
  • Hiyang Tannaba @ Loktak #1 : Gallery
  • Freedom movement against British #2
  • Inequity and health security
  • Donating blood is an act of solidarity
  • Unregulated deposit schemes & BUDS Act
  • Extension of entry age : Agnipath
  • Citizens feeding on adulterated food items
  • Of food safety and street vendors
  • Pooja Elangbam, IAS, 81st ranker in AICS
  • COVID-19 Status 16 June : Govt of Manipur
  • NE Model @Delhi Kids Fest : Gallery
  • Manipur Rajkunja
  • Effective Legal Aid to Women Prisoner
  • How to avoid cracked heel during hot summer
  • Aid to artisan must to promote local product
  • Education for whom ?
  • Kabui Dance @Nongshaba Haraoba : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 June : Govt of Manipur
  • 'Let's Talk About It' : music album
  • Significance of World Environment Day
  • The MCI Restoration
  • North East CSR Award 2022
  • Prolonged sitting or standing spoils your leg
  • State fast-tracking towards drug making hub
  • 'Progression' from smuggling to manufacturing
  • Bonny Elangbam : Longest distance covered
  • COVID-19 Status 14 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Interaction with Makakmayum Hosni Mubarak
  • India to become $5 trillion economy
  • Exploring traditional medicines of NE
  • Freefall of the kids after COVID-19
  • Honour the tax payers, expose defaulters
  • NE needs more than 'unprecedented'
  • Miss Shirui Lily 2022 #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 13 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Water management in paddy cultivation
  • PM Modi hails Nagaland Gaon Burahs
  • Blight of Nature :: Poem
  • Moreh as Las Vegas
  • NHIDCL's reputation at stake
  • Drugs, poppy & 'alternatives'
  • Thaopai Shithaine of Poumai #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Jadonang Park, Tamenglong :: Gallery
  • Freedom movement against British #1
  • Multi-Tasking Staff at Leima Traders
  • Toning down rhetoric that hurts religion
  • Shirui Lily fest brings to fore plastic menace
  • Conservation of pony & grazing fields
  • Kakwa Lairembi Haraoba #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 11 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The unheeded cry of children in labour
  • Why present distribution of urea fails?
  • World Day Against Child Labour 2022
  • Sunrise on the Civil Aviation Horizon
  • Arambam Samarendra Ningshingba :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 June : Govt of Manipur
  • NE Ex-Super Model at Delhi Kids Fest
  • What Diphu has, Dimapur & Kohima don't
  • Towards Manipur Budget 2022-23 ...
  • NE Social & Behaviour Change inaugurated
  • Fighting corruption remains an uphill task
  • Environment needs more than tree plantation
  • SN Chand: The father of Manipuri cinema #3
  • COVID-19 Status 09 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Degree Certificate for Survival #2
  • Value chain management of Umorok
  • Pulses for Nutrition Security in Manipur
  • Keeping your skin oil free during summer
  • Demand for impartial probe into IMC scam
  • Politics of isolating the NSCN (IM)
  • Raas @Manipur Rajbari, W Bengal :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 June : Govt of Manipur
  • A rare book on Birds of Manipur
  • Condemns bomb blast in Manipur
  • Market Innovations made America great #2
  • Jal Jeevan Mission : PHED Manipur
  • Disturbing data on lifestyle diseases in state
  • Tough talk against drug menace
  • Trekking to Shirui Peak, Ukhrul #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 07 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Take a leaf from sunderban if you're serious
  • Testimony of brother Ninghor Mahongnao
  • Local leaders unitedly push for One Health
  • Letters from the Republic of Dust #2
  • Soil testing for better crop production
  • Despicable threat to school
  • Outrage at Little Flower School
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Lam Thokpa #3 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 June : Govt of Manipur
  • India-Taiwan Global Bamboo Tech Forum
  • Condemns bomb attack at LFS
  • RSS chief sounds logical
  • Career options in Environmental Science
  • We reap what we sow
  • NRC in focus as keyboard warriors spar...
  • Coming together of COCOMI, UNC
  • HSE Result 2022 : Statistiscal Abstract
  • HSE Result 2022 : Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE Result 2022 : District-Wise Pass %
  • HSE Result 2022 :Science Topper
  • HSE Result 2022 : Arts Topper
  • HSE Result 2022 : Commerce Topper
  • HSE Result 2022 : Science Stream Result
  • HSE Result 2022 : Arts Stream Result
  • HSE Result 2022 : Commerce Stream Result
  • COVID-19 Status 05 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Nagaland: Is it fair to blame Indrajit Gupta ?
  • 4th Plenary Session of WMC at Sugnu
  • World Environment Day at Tamenglong
  • World Environment Day at Lilong
  • World Environment Day at Haraorou
  • Musing :: Poem
  • Yet another World Environment Day observed
  • Mounting pressure for solution
  • Padmashree Award Moirangthem Muktamani
  • COVID-19 Status 04 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Congested road at Shirui Village :: Gallery
  • Degree Certificate for Survival #1
  • Admission for National Sports University
  • World Environment Day at Imphal
  • Include Meeteis in the ST list
  • Inhumane act of De-addiction centres
  • UK band Monuments @ShiRock #2 :: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 June : Govt of Manipur
  • 'Provocation' charges arrests on social media
  • Gerinda Loitongbam: Natl Women Award
  • Timeless Memories :: Poem
  • Ket Meth releases music video Trauma'
  • 8 years of Modi Govt: More hits than misses
  • Bad example commanders
  • Posers parents may raise within
  • Miss Shirui Lily 2022 #1 : Gallery
  • Lunghar (Imp-Kohima / Jessami) #3 : Gallery
  • Wakhom Leikai Lairembi Haraoba #2 : Gallery
  • Naga Indigenous Wrestling :: Gallery
  • June Calendar for Year 2022 : Tools
  • UK band Monuments @ShiRock #1 :: Gallery
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Lam Thokpa #2 :: Gallery
  • SN Chand: The father of Manipuri cinema #2
  • Licypriya speech at East Timor :: Gallery
  • On 200th Anniversary of MK Binodini Devi
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2022 #2: Gallery
  • Harvesting Fest of Tarao #4 :: Gallery
  • Id-ul-Fitr @Hatta Golapati :: Gallery
  • Rules of English Pronunciation : Download
  • Sub-Syllables in English : Book Download