IMPHAL, December 10: The Co-Ordination Committee of six insurgent groups, CorCom, has sent its message to the people on the occasion of the Nupi Laan Ningsing Numit which is observed every December 12 in remembrance of the women movement against the British on this day in 1939.
The message issued began by saluting the unforgettable events in the history of Manipur and paying reverence to the Imas who valiantly fought against the British and the contemporary women leaders who are engaged in an ongoing battle against the ‘oppression of India’.
It contended that the Nupi Laan of 1904 and 1939 should not be understood as a movement by the womenfolk or against the existing economy specifically. In fact, it was an agitation against the oppression of the imperialist government carried out by the womenfolk on behalf of the whole population of Manipur, it stated and extolled the supreme sacrifices made by the agitators.
It urged the people to understand that the Nupi Laan in 1904 was launched to challenge the subjugation of the men and imperialist policies. Giving a brief recount of the incident, the press release stated that official bungalow housing the assistant of British Political agent P Maxwell, Dunlop and Captain Nuttal was destroyed in a fire on March 15, 1904. Later, the Khwairamband Nupi Keithel and the house of the Executive Engineer Mitchell where Dunlop and Captain Nutall has shifted were razed on July 6 and August on the same year respectively. On September 12, 1904, the political agent issued a decree holding the local people responsible for the first and the third fire and commanded them to rebuilt the houses by arranging the materials needed for the construction themselves.
The local womenfolk demonstrated against the unbearable diktat and subsequently forced the revocation of the order, saved the men from being held for forced labour and evaded the policy of rule by total domination. Maxwell withdrew the forcible policies of compulsory service of the local men in military and Collective Punishment on Manipuri Men.
On the other hand, the inception of the second Nupi Laan in 1939 originated due to the artificial scarcity of rice in Manipur in the month of Poinu owing to the large-scale export of local rice from mills in collusion by wealthy traders and officials in the administration, it stated. Although, in the foreground the imminent food crisis was the reason for the agitation, in reality the people were reacting against the oppression and marginalization of the opinion of the people in the name of religion and tradition by groups supported by the regime and the king. The movement was brought about after the unbearable levies and imposition applied by the government on the common people, it stated.
On December 12, 1939, women stormed the State Office and demanded the president of the Manipur State Darbar, TA Sharpe stop ferrying rice from the state. The imas detained Sharpe, civil surgeon Major PH Cummins and other officers from leaving the Telegraph office. They also detained the commandant of 4th Bn AR, Major GFX Bulfied who came to rescue the officers from leaving the place. Although the security was reinforced and they were stabbed by rifles bayonets, the women protestors fought against the armed personnel. Many women injured in the bloody aggression were ice-cold ponds. But, women did not capitulated and shouted for closure of mills and banning export of rice. In retaliation, the Khwairamband Keithel was shut down till the next summer, it stated.
Around that time, wife of Hijam Irabot, Khomdonsana along with members of Nikhil Manipuri Mahasabha went to Delhi and sought the support of Congress leaders for the mass movement and release of people imprisoned in connection with the stir including Irabot himself. The message of Nupi Laan is that people’s movement will ultimately wipe out the mis-governance of the imperialist government, he stated.
The British has left but a more evil occupational force is in control. They have brought severe policies and are torturing the common people. They are engaged in violation of the self-respect of the local men and women and the indigenous communities, the rights of the indigenous people and killings. The committee also paid respect to Irom Sharmila and women leaders from both hills and valley.