Our valiant forefathers who fought for Manipur sacrificed their lives. They knew the power of the British Empire, yet they fought. Our leaders must focus on the Khongjom War memorial gate which is becoming a controversial topic now.
On this heroic Khongjom Day, we should not feel defeated. When one enters the main gate of the Khongjom war memorial complex, we are greeted with an inverted swords within its sheath. When the sword points downward, it symbolizes the handing over of power. The inverted sword is symbolic of death in battle, a relinquishment of power. Besides, a sword within its sheath represents temperance.
The younger generations should be taught that our forefathers were brave and they have never surrendered. They fought the British Empire gallanty and defeated British twice in the soil of Manipur.
In the very own words of British Captain FM Rundall, the determination and bravery of our forefathers is clearly seen. He said, Many of the old soldiers who have seen much fighting in previous campaigns tell me they have never either seen or taken part in a fight where such a determinded and stubborn resistance was shown.
Britishers and Manipuri fought three battles in 1891. For the first time in British India and the Eastern Frontier, British Empire was defeated by Manipur Kingdom on March 24, 1891 when 400 soldiers of British attacked the Palace inside Kangla. Our brave forefathers made them surrendered who showed white flag and requested for negotiation. Some of them withdrew towards Cachar. On 26th April, Captain Cowley and 200 men of the 43rd Gurkhas from Cachar linked up with the withdrawing party at Laimatak.
Again in Thoubal battle, British armies have to fight with Manipuri soldiers for 10 days. The war was so aggressive and important for the British that one of their British Officer, Lt James William Grant was decorated with the Victoria Cross. In fact, he was the only British officer to have decorated with this medal during the British rule in entire Eastern frontiers.
In the last decisive battle at Khongjom, popularly termed as Manipur campaign by the Britishers to capture Kangla, our forefathers defended with strong 6500 soldiers. British empire have entered Manipur from three directions.
A force of 1200 with the overall headquarters under Major General Collett advanced through Kohima on the 20th of April. Another force of 1900 under Colonel Rennick started early on 15 April. While 1800 soldiers under Brigadier-General Graham advanced through Tamu on 23 April. In addition to these 5000 odd troops, the 5th Madras was the reserve besides guarding the lines of communication.
British infantry advanced, but they were surprised by the ferocity of the Manipuris resistance who fought very stubbornly and refused to abandon their position.
Heavy artilleries and more guns damaged the Manipuri defensive, even some parts of our defensive position were captured by the British. However, our forefathers did not give up, instead continued to put up very stiff resistance. This resulted in hand-to-hand combat. Better weapons and superior strength eventually led to the British Empire’s victory.
After reaching Kangla on 27th April,Union Jack was raised above the Kangla Fort. Our forefathers never surrendered. The future generations also never surrendred. We are fighting several wars everyday. Our leaders are fighting wars against drugs, employment, poverty, influxes, and enemies within the State.
Therefore the present symbol of a defeated kingdom and its armies at Khongjom War Memorial Complex Gate is meaningless. We request the government to change the inverted sword within its sheath. Our government should promote the bravery of Manipuri forefathers, not to show their defeat to the world.
Let the future generations be inspired from our forefathers!