Princely state Manipur fights its last war of independence against the mighty British forces in 1891 which is regarded as one of the most glorious chapters of the state’s history. Since then Manipur lost her independence but regain it in 1947. The princely state merged with the Union of India in 1949.
Today, the state observes Khongjom day on April 23 every year at Khebaching about 28 km from the state’s capital – Imphal, to mark the martyrs who laid down their lives for the causes of the Manipuris. In fact, the whole nation indebted to martyrs like Paona Brajabashi who stands up to the mighty British forces and fight valiantly for safeguarding Manipur’s freedom.
The resistance of the Manipuris displayed against the British has become another legend of patriotism and valor, reminding patriotism, a spirit of dedication and indomitable courage. The present generation owes it to those martyrs to do everything to strengthen the unity and integrity of the country so that foreign powers could not able to ever enslave the Manipuris. The fitting homage to all those brave heroes who laid down their lives in the Khongjom war would be to dedicate the people for strengthening the bond of oneness and spreading the message of peaceful coexistence among all the ethnic groups in the state.
There is indeed a great privilege to pay homage to the brave martyrs of Manipur who made supreme sacrifice in the battle of Khongjom in 1891. Khongjom located Manipur’s Thoubal district. The battle reminds, how as the British forces started covering on Imphal from three directions. The brave sons of Manipur led by Paona Brajabashi stand up against the mighty British and fight against the foreign forces what the historians described (it) as one of the fiercest battles in the annals of Indian history. Notwithstanding, the final outcome of the war, the resistance of the Manipuris against the British is a legend of patriotism and valiance.
History tells that The battle of Khongjom takes place because of differences and disunity amongst the princes of Manipur after the death of Maharaja Chandrakriti that leads to the battle of Khongjom. This battle was not an isolated event. It was another link in the long chain of events which made up the saga of the fights against the British who launched three-pronged strategies against the Manipuris. The attacks were made from Silchar, Kohima, and Tamu (Myanmar).
Observing the day, paying homage and tribute to the heroes of Manipur, a lesson teaches to the people “United we stand divided we fall”. The British came to India as traders. But taking advantage of the differences and disunity amongst the then Indian princes and kings, the foreign forces established their empire with the policy of divide and rule. Then, they annexed the then small kingdoms one after another into their empire. And finally, with the annexation of Manipur into their empire, the long process of the British conquest of India was complete. The differences and disunity led to the expansion of British imperialism in India. This is the lesson that the people have to learn from the history of Manipur.
Freedom cannot be bartered away or compromised at any cost and under any circumstance. Freedom from the British was attained after a prolonged struggle in which thousands of freedom fighters sacrificed their lives.
The sacrifice of Paona Brajabashi and other heroes should not go waste. Their vision will remain unfulfilled unless determined efforts are made to get the state out of the vicious circle. An environment must be created where Manipuris enjoy a sense of security to live a life of dignity and peace.
With the aim and objective of globalization, every citizen must have the freedom to develop to their maximum potential in their own way.