TODAY -

Indomitable spirit showcased by Manipuri forefathers
- The People's Chronicle Editorial :: August 15, 2022 -



IT'S heartening that successive Governors and government leaders have been hailing the valour of Manipuri forefathers whenever the state observes Khongjom Day and Patriots' Day in remembrance of the sacrifices made by both known and unknown warriors of the then independent kingdom. Similar words of praise also echo during observance of the two epochal Nupi Lal or women's uprising.

Though interpretations on Nupi Lal and Khongjom war, incidents leading to the Anglo-Manipuri conflict and post-battle developments such as hanging of prominent Manipuris and imprisoning of captives including the princes, vary between contemporary public figures and civil societies, the fact remains that Manipur had been an independent nation.

Loss of Manipur's sovereign status following the signing of Merger Agreement signed in Shillong many decades back not only continues to be a hotly debated issue but it is also the genesis for some of the armed groups to wage war against the establishment to demand restoration of sovereignty.

As such, it is not surprising that those in the government see observance of such historic events as an opportunity to present their own versions, glorify sacrifices made by Manipuri ancestors and associate such acts of bravery as part of the national movement against the then British rulers whereas both civil societies as well as outlawed outfits are leaving no stone unturned to ring out the message that the battles fought at Khongjom and elsewhere and subsequent executions or imprisonment of the Manipuri war captives have nothing to do with India's freedom movement against the same adversary.

Moreover, the political elites, especially the major parties, opting to keep mum on celebration of Manipur Independence Day on August 14 by civil society organisations, underscore conflicting stands on the political status of Manipur.

Though interpretations vary and its exposition inexplicable, freedom, be it of nations or individuals, is an unrivalled blessing and this intrinsic value had been the driving force for the poorly armed Manipuri forefathers to dare to challenge the might of the British soldiers in the epochal Khongjom War and continued to fiercely oppose the British dominion to the extent of facing the gallows.

Regardless of being fully aware about imminent defeat at the hands of the British invaders, Manipuri warriors made up of well-fed princes, suffering common folks and piteous peasants fought with all fierceness in the battle of Khongjom and ultimately laid down their lives.

It is because of their firm resolve to fight for upholding their freedom rather than live as subjects of the occupational forces that the Manipuri forefathers are remembered by generations after generations at every given opportunity.

In the same way, the calendar event Khongjom Day commemorates the gallantry of the forefathers, Patriots' Day too is an occasion for remembrance of how the brave-hearts continued to defy the colonial rule in-spite of being taken captive.

Even if names of only a handful find prominent mention during observance of Patriots' Day, it an occasion to pay obeisance to all documented as well as unknown martyrs, whose concept of liberation and sovereignty was solely rooted in their faith, of which there stands no concomitant.

Predictably, there would be variations over the Khongjom war and observance of Patriots' Day but history is evidence that in-spite of Manipur losing its sovereignty, Manipuri forefathers proved their indomitable spirit.



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