Tag Archives: North East

U Kiang Nangbah – A Patriot from Meghalaya

” It seems as if history begins with the British annexation of their territories. A serious attempt was made in this direction under the leadership of the then National Council of Educational Research and Training Director, JS Rajput, during the NDA regime, but hundreds of textbooks prepared during the time were later thrown into the dustbin under the garb of preventing ‘saffronisation’ of education. ”  – KG Suresh of Pioneer

Kiang Nangbah

U Kiang Nangbah was born to Ka Rimai Nangbah at  Tpeppale in Jwai. The exact date of his birth is not known but it is said that he was a child at the time when the British annexed the Jaintia Kingdom in 1835. Unlike other patriot of the region, U Kiang Nangbah had no royal background. He was a rural folk and a common farmer that belonged to the lineage of the Sookpoh clan. Though very young in age at the time of annexation, he was greatly disturbed by the highhandedness policies of the Britishers. The spirit of patriotism was inspired in U Kiang Nangbah by these developments and by the daring life story of his maternal uncle, U Ksan Sajar Nangbah, who fought against the British at a place called Chanmyrsiang.

British & Christian Missionary strategy :

The British initially adopted a policy of least interference and left the Jaintia people almost entirely to themselves for a period of more than two decades. During these periods U Kiang Nangbah became fully aware about the policies and plan of the British to impose authority on the Jaintias. However, the anti-British feelings started when the British India Government attempted to impose taxes and interfered with the custom and religious activities of the people. These acts are viewed by the people as an attempt of the British to impose authority and make the people “submissive to the authority” and to “acknowledge the supremacy of the British government”.

In 1860, a House Tax was imposed in Jaintia Hills. The public pronouncement of this imposition was made by Manik Pakyntein a Dorbar held at Mïnkoi Pïrdi in 1859.. U Kiang Nangbah gave a befitting reply in the dorbar and said, “Natives do not pay taxes to the foreigners”. In the same year, many more taxes were imposed which includes Income Tax and duties on trade and other commodities despite the people of Jaintia had made it clear that they would not pay any forms of taxes imposed by the foreigner.

Apart from imposition of taxes, there were other activities of the British government that made the Jaintia people determined not to remain mute spectators, but to resist the British authority. A police station was established at Jwai in 1855, as a token of the government authority over the hills. The setting of police station near the cremation ground of the Dkhar clan was resented by the people. The British administration was asserting its power and took additional measures to control the Jaintias and to suppress their religious beliefs.  In addition, establishment of a school by the missionaries also caused concern for the people.

The immediate cause of the resistance was triggered by the incident that took place at Yalong. On the occasion of the traditional dance called ‘Pastieh Kaiksoo’. The police led by Surki, a Khasi police officer of Jowai confiscate all the weapons that are meant for the festival and burned them before the very eyes of a large number of people that had gathered to witness this traditional dance. The act of religious intolerance carried out by the British officials had made the Jaintia to rose in arms and protect their land, customs and religion.  The government official and missionaries influenced the people to believe that the sanctity of their sacred grooves known as ‘Khloo Langdoh’ was a superstition belief.

The Resistance Begins :

This political and religious interference of the British ignited the fire of mass movement which started with the calling of the Dorbar of the twelve Dalois to appraise the people about the need to resist the alien rule.  Daring old and young men attended the Dorbar.  U Kiang Nangbah was unanimously elected a leader after fulfilling a test.

U Kiang Nangbah and his men start building barricades, stockades, stored grains and manufactured weapons and firearms. U Kiang Nangbah and his people from the villages of Jwai, Yalong, Latober, and Changpung attacked the Police station at Jwai and destroyed it completely. They also burnt down Christian settlement and besieged the military post. The attack spread to other part of Jaintia Hills like Padu, Satpator, Nangbah, Yalong, Mynsoo, Changpung, Nyrtiang, Raliang, Sutnga, Nangkhlieh, Barato, Mookayaw etc. and the British had to reinforce more Regiments to conduct a full scale military operation against U Kiang Nangbah and his men.

Treachery :

Meanwhile U Kiang Nangbah fell ill and taking this as an opportune moment,  U Long Sutnga a key member of his team,  informed about the place and condition of U Kiang Nangbah to the British. On 27th December 1862, the British captured Kiang Nangbah in the early hours but with stiff resistance from U Kiang though he was ill.

This revolutionary leader was put on mock trial and was sentenced to death within three days of his capture, before the very eyes of the troops and  locals, to send across a tough message that any resistance to the British rule would not be tolerated and would be suppressed with an iron hand.  He was hanged on 30th December 1862.

Kiang Nangbah Monument

A Prophecy :

However, as he was being taken to the gallows on the evening of December 30, 1862, U Kiang said something prophetic, “Brothers and sisters, please look carefully on my face when I die on the gallows. If my face turns towards the east, my country will be free from foreign yoke in the next 100 years and if it turns west, it will remain in bondage for good.”

In less than a century, India became independent. Like the native American Indians, U Kiang fought for the rights of the people in the face of imposition of an alien way of life and values. People of Khasi and Jaintia Hills have since lost much of their traditional culture. In fact, not many in the younger generation even remember U Kiang Nanbah.

Government Education Policy :

The ignorance about U Kiang Nanbah is a reflection on the Government’s education policy, which has totally neglected the history of the North-East. Forget Nanbah, most history textbooks prescribed by the Central Board of Secondary Education do not have any reference to the history, culture or traditions of the region. It seems as if their history begins with the British annexation of their territories.

A serious attempt was made in this direction under the leadership of the then National Council of Educational Research and Training Director, JS Rajput, during the NDA regime, but hundreds of textbooks prepared during the time were later thrown into the dustbin under the garb of preventing ‘saffronisation’ of education.

Private Initiatives :

Efforts to build bridges of understanding between the North-East and the other parts of the country have been happening by some organizations and initiatives such as Ekal Vidyalaya, Ramakrishna Mission, Vivekananda Kendra, Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Sewa Bharati, many initiatives by swayamsevaks of RSS and other well meaning individuals.

Nevertheless, this sensitisation has to begin from the school level itself, and that can be made possible only by incorporating the history, culture and traditions of the North-East in social studies textbooks taught across the country. This can be done with the active involvement of the people of the region and by educating the rest of the country about the contributions made by the freedom-fighters, intellectuals, artists and sportspersons from the North-East towards the building of a modern India.

References & Sources –

a. Meghalaya Times – U Kiang

b. Pioneer April 2013 – Article by KG Suresh

c. Photo Credit – Bharatmata mandir, Indianetzone

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Lachit Borphukan – Bulwark Against the Delhi Sultans

Lachit Borphukan

Courtesy Hindu History Info

Assam was the only State in Bharat which defeated successive attempts at invasion by the Delhi Sultans and the Mughal Emperors. The state survived 17 invasions.  Lachit Borphukan and many other brave kings and generals ensured that the North East of Bharat remained free from the Muslim invasions. Lachit Borphukan was a commander in the Ahom kingdom known for his leadership in the 1671 Battle of Saraighat that thwarted a drawn-out attempt by Mughal forces under the command of Ramsingh I to take back Kamrup.

In the mid 1600s the Mughal Empire was in the noontide of its glory – one of the greatest and largest empires in the world with a power army to match it. By force and conciliation it had overrun a large part of India before their fanatical policies of religious persecution led to a series of uprisings and revolutions that brought the entire empire crashing into the dustbin of history.

Popularly referred to as Momai Tamuli, the first Borbarua and also Commander-in-Chief of Ahom forces during the reign of King Prataapa Singha. Momai Tamuli ensured that his son Lachit was properly educated in the disciplines necessary for nobility. After the completion of his formal education, Lachit was appointed as the scarf bearer of the Ahom Swargadeo, a post equivalent to that of a private secretary.

“Dexotkoi mumai dangor nohoi” – My uncle is not greater than my country

From his father, Lachit had inherited an unwavering sense of duty, involvement and loyalty. He now immersed himself completely in the preparations for the war. He was a harsh taskmaster, but very sincere to his job that he did not hesitate to behead even his uncle, who was found to be negligent on duty during an important situation of the war.

Liberation of Ahom territory

In August 1667, Lachit accompanied by Atan Burhagohain lead the Ahom warriors towards Guwahati. In November 1667, he captured the Itakhuli fort and later drove the Mughal forces beyond Manas after taking the faujdar Firruz Khan as prisoner.

In December 1667, the tyrant Aurangzeb was informed of the defeat of the Mughal forces at the hands of Ahom warriors. He ordered a massive army commanded by Raja Ram Singh to attack and subdue the Ahoms. Aurangzeb added an additional 30,000 infantrymen, 21 Rajput chiefs with their contingents, 18,000 cavalry, 2,000 archers and shielders, and 40 ships to Ram Singh’s forces of 4,000 troopers (from his  char-hazaari mansab), 1,500 ahadis and 500 barqandezes.)

Selection of the Battlefield

Lachit Borphukan anticipated such an move by the Mughals. Therefore, immediately after capturing Guwahati he began strengthening the defenses around the Ahom territory. He used the Brahmaputra as a natural perimeter defense and augmented her banks with stockades and mud embankments. He was fully aware that he did not stand a chance against the Mughal troops on the plains. He cleverly choose the hilly and forested terrain just outside Guwahati as his battleground, were the Ahom warriors had an advantage over the Mughals.

Siege of Guwahati and the Alaboi

Confrontation

The Mughal forces attacked Guwahati in March 1669 and for over a year laid siege to it. During  he entire period, the Mughals could not achieve any breakthrough as the Ahoms had erected secure defences . The unaccustomed terrain and climate also turned against the Mughal forces. The Ahoms had the advantage and were using it fully by conducting guerilla raids against the Mughal troops.

The Mughals tried to sow dissension among the Ahoms through trickery. They shot an arrow into the Ahom camp with a letter addressed to Lachit. In that letter, the Mughals offered to pay Lachit one lakh rupees and urged him to evacuate Guwahati. This incident was informed to the Ahom king, which raised doubts in his mind about the loyalty of Lachit. Atan Burhagohain quelled the king’s doubts about Lachit’s loyalty.

Followed by this the Mughals lured the Ahoms for a confrontation on the plains. The Ahom king urged Lachit to take this up as a challenge. A small force of Mughal troops commanded by Mir Nawab was to engage the Ahom warriors at Alaboi. The Ahoms had made elaborate preparations and concealed their reinforcement in trenches. This helped the Ahoms capture Mir Nawab and rout his troops. The Mughals enraged by this defeat let loose their entire forces on the Ahoms that led to a massacre of 10,000 Ahom warriors.

Lachit withdrew his forces up to the Itakhuli fort after this major setback. While the war was raging on, the Ahom king Chakradhwaja Singha died. He was succeeded by Udayaaditya Singha. Observing that none of the Mughal strategies were successful, Ram Singh offered the Ahoms 300,000 rupees to give up their claim on Guwahati and return to an earlier treaty agreed in 1639. However, this was fiercely opposed by Atan Burhagohain, who raised the suspicion that the tyrannical emperor of Delhi may not abide by this proposal.

Meanwhile, Munnawar Khan, the Mughal admiral joined Ram Singh, with a rebuking message from Aurangzeb to make war with the Ahoms and not friendship. Ram Singh was now forced to move in full strength against the Ahoms. He was informed of a breach in the embankment near Andharubali. At this time, Lachit was down with severe illness and could not actively oversee the battle preparations.

Snatching Victory from Defeat

Lachit leading his troops

Lachit leading his troops

The Ahom army was demoralized after their defeat at the hands of the Mughals in the previous battle at Alaboi. When they saw the huge enemy boats looming nearer, they were devastated and were on the brink of deserting and fleeing the scene. Sensing this, Lachit immediately ordered a flotilla of seven boats to be prepared for him and forced himself from the sickbed and on to the boats. He firmly stated that regardless of what happens, he will never desert his country. Seeing their general back on foot and hearing his words gave the Ahoms a big morale boost. All soldiers rushed to Lachit’s side and their numbers swelled immediately.

The Ahoms launched their small boats and Lachit led them to a head on confrontation with the Mughals in the middle of the river. The smaller Ahom boats had greater maneuverability as opposed to the large Mughal vessels. The Mughal boats were stuck in the water unable to navigate efficiently. In a closely fought battle, the Mughals were decisively defeated. The Mughal admiral Munnawar Khan was killed in battle. Many of the Mughal commanders and numerous troops were also killed.

The Ahoms chased the Mughals upto the Manas, which was the western boundary of the Ahom. Lachit also instructed his troops to be always alert for counterattacks from the Mughals. All these events are presumed to have taken place in the month of March in the year 1671.

Though Lachit emerged victorious in the war against the Mughals and restored the glory and dignity of Ahoms, the strains of war had taken their toll on him. He never recovered from his illness and died an year later in April 1672.

Legacy

Lachit Memorial at Naval Defence Academy

Lachit Memorial at Naval Defence Academy

He was put to rest at the Lachit Maidan built by the King Udayaditya Singh at   Hoolungapara in 1672. His statue was unveiled at the National Defense Academy at Khadakwasla in 2000 by then Governor of Assam, Lt. Gen. S K Sinha. Every year the best cadet passing out of the Academy is awarded the Lachit Medal . Nov 24th is commemorated as Lachit Divas in remembrance of this heroic son of Maa Bharati.

Source material & References  –

a.  Yuva bharati magazine – April 2011

b. Assam Info website

c. Sitaram Goel

The Radicals Have spoken clearly on Assam. Is the Nation Hearing ?

Speaking on the Assam issue on 8th August 2012 , Mr.Asaduddin Owasi, the MP from Hyderabad belonging to MIM ( Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen) said

“Lastly, I warn the Central Government; I warn the hon. Members over here. ¦ (
Interruptions) If proper rehabilitation does not take place, you be ready for a third wave of radicalization among Muslim youth. ¦ (Interruptions) You are not bringing it to the notice. … (Interruptions) I am bringing it to your notice. … (Interruptions)” 
Full text of discussion in parliament can be looked at
Point # 1 that the nation must note is 
Mr.Owaisi is clear that the Muslims are one community irrespective of the country to which they belong. Therefore, even when the Bodos are actually fighting the Bangladeshi infiltrators ( which the state must be doing ), his sympathy lies with the Muslims over the Bodos. No matter to him that the Bodos belong to Bharat and the Muslims in question here are from Bangladesh. It also does not matter to him that Hindus also are languising in rehabilation camps.
Point # 2 :
He says that this will lead to the 3rd radicalization of the Muslims. I guess by this he means, after Ayodhya in 1992 and Gujarath in 2002. The history over the world shows that Muslims esp in India do not need any particular reason to get radicalized. Because of their concept of Jehad, the Ummah and Jannat, it is easy for the recruiters of Jehadis to get recruits by showcasing any problem across the world as an issue of Islam. For example, they recruited people over the Khalifa during Khilafat, on the Iraq issue when Saddam was attacked, they recruited when Osama was attacked and many many more such incidents which lead to recruitment and radicalization.
Will the country ask Mr.Owaisi what makes the Muslim youth so prone to radicalization ?  Why is it that the Hindu victims like the Kashmiri Pandits, the victims of partition, the Hindu victims of Pakistan and Bangladesh, the family members of riot victims in so many parts across the country don’t get radicalized while it is so easy for the Muslims to get radicalized ?
Point # 3 –
As if taking the cue from Mr.Owaisi ( or orchestrated events by bigger powers that Owaisi), the Muslims took out protests in Hyderabad, Mumbai and other parts of the country which “suddenly” got violent. It is another matter that the “peaceful” protesters were armed with petrol bombs and other armaments.
As per reports, in Madhapur at Hyderabad, a goonda by name Momin with his gang has gone about threatening Assamese & others from North East to vacate Hyderabad before 20th August 2012 or face death. This is on the lines of the warnings given to the Pandits in Kashmir valley during the 90’s.
Today’s reports suggest that Assamese in Bengaluru have also been asked to vacate.
Thousands of Hindus who hail from Assam and other parts of North East have evacuated these cities and are moving back to their home. Is this the security that the nation-state is going to give to its citizens ? The only source of support to the Assamese seem to be the swayamsevaks who are offering support and solace to them.
Is the country going to be taken to ransom to the radicalization call and warnings of these goons. It must be remembered that whenever the state fails in its duty of protection, the people would be forced to take their own measures for protection of their folk.
Owaisi is a Parliamentarian who has sworn by the Indian constitution. What are the measures he is taking to arrest these radicals rather than succumbing to them ?  Is he a member of Parliament of only Muslims Or a Member of Parliament of India ?
Mr. Owaisi and his folk are clear. Is the nation willing to hear the import of these words and actions ?
Arise Bharat !