Battle of Khongjom Two dates for one battle!

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The ambiguity or rather obscurity surrounding the exact date on which the Battle of Khongjom was fought is a matter of shame for the entire Manipuri nation who often boast of having chronicled the history of the land for over 2000 years. No doubt, the Battle of Khongjom was fought in the month of April in 1891 CE. Again, there is no disagreement over the fact that the historic battle was fought for only one day. The point of discord or disagreement is the date. Whereas the State Government and large sections of people have been observing the anniversary of the Battle of Khongjom on April 23 every year, some other groups have been vehemently contending that the battle was fought on April 25, not April 23. It is rather disgraceful if we are observing the anniversary of the Battle of Khongjom or the Khongjom War as it is more popularly known on a wrong date. Everyone has a very clear idea about how the Khongjom War was fought between Manipuri soldiers and the invading army of the British empire. The outcome of the war was a foregone conclusion. Manipuri soldiers were quite inferior in terms of number as well as weapons. Yet, the valiant Manipuri soldiers stood up firmly against the juggernaut of the mighty British empire. They fought, they sacrificed and they died a heroic death. Of course, they all died yet their legacy lives on. Major Paona Brajabashi’s war cry Nongmada pokpa machana nini shiba hounabra (No man can die twice) reverberates in an unending cacophony even today. Like any nation on earth which has achieved a degree of civilization, Manipuri people hold freedom dearer than life and the Khongjom War was one such indubitable testimony. The Battle of Khongjom and its outcome paved way for British occupation of Manipur and it signaled the end of its glorious history. Such is the significance of the Battle of Khongjom in the history of Manipur. Apart from the well known military leaders like Paona Brajabashi, hundreds of unknown soldiers too laid down their lives in the Battle of Khongjom. The mighty British forces killed them but they were not defeated. They all died a free man and their spirits were never subdued.

It would be sheer disrespect and injustice to all those heroes if we have entered a wrong date for the Battle of Khongjom in history books. One can commemorate the Battle of Khongjom on any day one wishes but it would be a historical injustice if the exact date on which the historic battle was fought is marked wrongly on the annual calendar. This does not mean April 23 is wrong and April 25 is right or vice versa. Yet, we are more than sure that the exact date of the Battle of Khongjom can be established with a little research work. The battle was fought just about 23 years before the First World War broke out. All the detailed information and records can be collected/obtained. We are fully optimistic that one can establish the exact date of the Battle of Khongjom by comparing and collating these information and records. Even if British officers were known for scrupulousness in maintaining historical records, the erstwhile kingdom of Manipur had a very vibrant culture of chronicling all major events. Then why is there a controversy over the date of the Battle of Khongjom? History should not be distorted wittingly or unwittingly. The controversy should be put to rest once for all. There cannot be two dates for a battle which was fought only for a day.

Source: The Sangai Express

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