IMPHAL, December 19: “Let us not fall prey to the fissiparous and divisive forces and stand unitedly for the progress and development of our State” Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said during the 98th anniversary observation of the Anglo-Kuki War today held at the Kuki Inn, Imphal.
Manipur has witnessed two major wars: the Khongjom War in 1891 when Manipur lost its sovereignty and the Anglo-Kuki War – a rebellion against the imposition of the British Imperial Government, he said.
The CM said it amply shows the indomitable spirit of the Manipuris, our love for freedom and, the extent of our readiness to preserve and safeguard it.
Speaking further, he said on this day we salute our brave patriotic forefathers for their supreme sacrifices and let us follow the indelible footprints left behind by them for us to follow.
“I would urge all the Manipuris living in the hills and the valley living in this sacred land we call Manipur, given to us by God, to preserve and enjoy its fruits by following the indelible footprints left by them.”
Regarding a memorandum submitted by the president of the Kuki Independence War Memorial Committee, Manipur which organised today’s observation, Ibobi said declaration of December 19 as a State holiday in commemoration of the Anglo-Kuki War is a policy matter which is to be decided by the State cabinet.
Ibobi also said the Kukis are among the indigenous tribes of Manipur who have inhabited the hill areas of Manipur since time immemorial. They have been enjoying full freedom in their land and the Chiefs rule their respective jurisdiction in the hills, Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said.
He said the Kuki chiefs were always ready to render their help to the Maharaja in the Manipur valley whenever needed.
“It shows the unity of tribal in the hills and the Meiteis in the valley,” he said adding that this fact is all recorded in the history of Manipur written even by the British.
The freedom and independence enjoyed by the Kukis has been severely affected after the Khongjom War and the imposition of alien rule in Manipur, he said.
Ibobi said when the first war broke out in 1914 and the British Imperial government directed the Maharaja of Manipur to raise 2000 labourers from the hill people of Manipur, the Manipuri Kuki chiefs found it as an attempt to encroach on their freedom and decided to oppose it resolutely.
The attempts by the then Political Agent to persuade the Kuki chiefs having failed, the Imperial Government tried to use force for raising the labour corps, he recounted.
This force conscription had resulted in the Ang/o-Kuki War or the Kuki rebellion which broke out in 1917 and concluded in the suppression of the rebellion in 1919, he added.
The Chief Minister continued, the then DIG Assam Rifles, WJ Shakespeare recorded in the History of Assam Rifles that the Kuki rebellion, 1917-19 involved the largest military operation conducted on eastern side of India, he observed.
It can rightly be stated that it is one of the longest, largest, costliest military operation in the whole of India since the Sepoy Mutiny of -1857 as the records of the British Government revealed, he added.
This war or rebellion (as per the Britishers) shows the degree of love for freedom by the Manipuris and their love for their motherland, he added.
Today’s observation was also attended by IFCD, printing & Stationary minister Ngamthang Haokip, Kuki Inpi Manipur president Thangkhosei Haokip, All Manipur Christian organisation president Rev Prim Vaiphei, Kuki leaders among others.
Earlier during the observation, the Chief Minister had led in laying floral tributes to portraits of leaders of the war.
The Chief Minister also expressed his happiness in participating in the anniversary observation.