Manipur on Sunday observed the Khongjom Day with State honours, paying fitting tributes to the heroes of the Khongjom War. The main event was held at Kheba Ching at Khongjom in Thoubal district, Manipur.
The observance began with the laying of wreaths led by Governor Anusuiya Uikey and Chief Minister N Biren Singh at the Khongjom War Memorial.
Following a guard of honour, general salute, reverse arms, sounding of last post, two-minutes silence, slope arms and order arms, floral wreaths were also laid at the Paona Brajabashi Statue with guard of honour and gun salute.
Speaking as the chief guest of the function, Governor Anusuiya Uikey said today is the day of remembering the heroes of Manipur and paying homage to those patriots who laid down their lives fighting against the British in 1891.
While observing this day, we need to remember that foreign powers become active only when there are internal conflicts, the Governor said. She explained that the Khongjom War is the most important event in the history of Manipur.
There are many unknown heroes who fought against foreign forces like the British in villages, mountains, places like Manipur and awakened the spirit of freedom in the people, she said.
"We need to remember them also. And for this they are being remembered during the year of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, she highlighted," the governor added.
She said the sacrifices of Manipur’s heroes like Major Paona Brajabashi, Major Chongtham Mia, Chinglen Sana, Major Khumbong, Major Loitongba and many more are important and there is a need to remember them.
“Today, we are citizens of a free India and our independence is not a gift of the British, but a result of long struggle and sacrifices made,” she said, adding that we should always remember this.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of the youth to maintain and protect the dignity, freedom and sovereignty of the country, she said, highlighting that independence should not be interpreted in the narrow sense of separatism and regionalism. Any threat or challenge, whether external or internal, must be faced unitedly and courageously, she added.
She further appealed to the youth of the State to reject violence and join the mainstream to work for development and progress of the country. Statues of such great sons of the soil should be installed in their villages, the younger generation should be told about them.
On this occasion of Khongjom Day, let us pay homage not only to the patriots who laid down their lives for the freedom of their motherland, but also to the innumerable freedom fighters of India who made selfless sacrifices for India, the Governor said.
Along with this, we should also remember our pledge to maintain and protect the independence and sovereignty of our country and its dignity, she added.
Delivering his presidential speech, Chief Minister N Biren Singh said that we are remembering those who had sacrificed their lives, 132 years ago in 1891 for their motherland.
“We all know why and how the Khongjom War was fought. Despite knowing of their disadvantages of being ill-equipped and outnumbered, our brave forefathers fought the British,” he said.
Today, what is important is whether today’s generation is able to safeguard, and preserve the freedom, and independence given to us by our brave forefathers, the Chief Minister added.
N Biren Singh further recounted a brief account of the war and recalled how Pukhrambam Kajao killed Grimwood, the then Political Agent of Manipur with his spear.
He recounted the public uproar in Manipur against the British’s decision to send Maharaj Kullachandra and others to a jail in Andaman Nicobar and the eventual release of the Maharaj owing to the public uproar.
The chief minister also elaborated that Maharaj Kullachandra refused to apologize before the British Queen and to assure them not to rebel against British rule.
When the Maharaj was eventually released, he decided to move to Brindavan citing that he could not return to his land when his people were under the British, N Biren Singh continued.
The chief minister further stressed the need for politicians and bureaucrats to be sincere and nationalistic and highlighted that today under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision, and untiring attitude, India has grown so much.
“We had fought against the British as a united Manipur,” the Chief Minister said, highlighting the participation of different communities in the war. “We lived together, we are living together and we will continue to live together”.
Noting the National Conference of YAS Ministers which will be held in the State on April 24-25, he urged the people against calling any bandh, blockade or strikes which will create apprehension amongst people coming from outside.
Other ministers, MLAs, top officials of the government and others also offered tarpan.