History of the freedom movement from the North-eastern part of Bharat is rarely sung and told through mainstream. This has projected as a big divide between the people of the same nation.
This is a story of a general of Manipur army who fought for his motherland and never surrendered before the British. He is Paona Brajabashi.
The Kingdom of Kangleipak (Manipur) ruled Manipur from 1110 until 1819. In 1819, the Kingdom of Burma under Emperor Bawdawpay invaded and seized Manipur, beginning its decline.
Burmese genocide against the Meitei reduced Manipur’s population to 2,500. After Manipur fell, Burma moved into Assam and the Brahmaputra Valley. However, the British were an unexpected but formidable foe. On March 5, 1824, the British declared war on Burma, fearing an invasion of Bengal. Manipuri refugees fought with the British if they restored Prince Gambhir Singh’s dominion. After this war Burmese could be led out of Manipur and the peace was restored in the kingdom. However, British can never be a friend, they would always be a foe in the guise of a friend.
Paona led the Manipur army
Britishers started to interfere in the matters of Manipur kingdom and brought an army of 400 Gurkhas to oust the current king Maharaj Kulchandra Singh out. This enraged the Maharaj and he ordered the beheading of five British officials on March 24, 1891.
This event was the spark that ignited the fuse that would eventually become known as the Anglo-Manipur war of 1891.
Major Paona Brajabashi, a valiant soldier serving the Kangleipak kingdom and a hero of the Indian independence movement, took the spotlight at this point in the conflict.
700 soldiers resisted British in Tamu which is today’s Manipur- Myanmar border. And eventually King sent 400 more soldiers under the leadership of Paona Brajbasi. Amidst a fierce battle, the mud fortress made by the Manipuri army was shattered. The army was in need of cannons which could not reach them on time.
This war is one of the fiercest battle fought against the British and there was no one left from the Manipuri army. Paona Brajabashi was even asked to switch sides by a Manipuri who was an officer in the British army. But Paona fearlessly said that death was more welcome than treason.
Paona fought till his last breath until the last Manipuri soldier fell down. British entered Imphal on 27 April, 1891 and raised their Union Jack. They conducted a big disarmament trail and confiscated 4000 weapons.
This great Martyr lives in the memories of the people and his story needs to reach each and every corner of the country.
When history is written to glorify one family, one person, or one political party while ignoring the contributions of others, people remain divided. When one part of the truth is hidden and another is overly and unnecessarily glorified, people’s morale suffers. Let the history of unsung warriors brought at the forefront and revere their contributions.