The forgotten freedom fighters of North-East
Ukiang Nangbah was born to ka Rimai Nangbah at Tpeppale in Jowai. At early age of 7-8 years, his mother told him the story of his uncle, U Ksan Sajar Nangbah, who lost his life fighting in the war against the Britishers. The story landed a seed of hatred deep down in his heart against the British. The reason for this early resistance is attributed to the construction of road from Jaintiapur to Nowgong.
For a period of more than two decades the British adopted a policy of least interference and left the Jaintia people almost entirely to themselves. However, the anti-British feelings started show up when the British India Government attempted to impose taxes and interfered with the custom and religious activities of the people. In a public meeting at Mungkoi Pyrdi to make an announcement of declaration of house tax-1858-59, U Kiang Nangbah angrily stood up and opposed it calling it an absurd idea. He said “we are the native dwellers here, why should we pay tax?”
The incident which was marked as a turning point in his life is when Daloi Tyngkan and the British officials attempted to collect tax from the house of one Lakhi Pïrdiang at Chilliangraij, who refused to pay the tax. Anger by this refusal, the British officials vehemently entered and ransacked her house. U Kiang Nangbah at that very moment appeared on the scene as he was passing by the Lakhi’s house and saw the tragic emotional event. He kicked Daloi to the ground and in the fight fierce encounter took place which killed some of his followers too. From the day kiang Nangbah wandered day and night and roared like a lion.
The uprising under the leadership of U Kiang Nangbah began on the January 17, 1862. The war had severe repercussions on all classes of people and in all shades of life. People led a deplorable life and this was the worst period in the history of the Jaintias. The war spread like wild fire in the land of 12 Dalois. Bold resistance took place at Padu, Satpator, Jowai, Nangbah, Mynsoo, Nartiang, Shangpung, Raliang, Sutnga. The war lasted for one full year.
During the war Britishers faced tough resistance from the Pnars and were at their wits end at that juncture. Having failed to defeat and eliminate Kiang Nangbah at the early period of the war, the British looked for a traitor and offered U Daloi Tyngkan with a sum of 1000 rupees and U Daloi Tyngkan hatched a plot with U Long Sutnga a follower of U Kiang. He took them to his place of hide out at Mynser, Umpara while he was sick in bed. He was captured and kept in chains and brought to Jowai. He was offered with a reward of high post but he declined it and maintained his principle. The British brought him to Lawmusiang, Jowai on December 30, 1862 and was hanged till death in front of his countrymen. U Kiang Nangbah faced the gallows with courage and one could not forget his prophetic message which he uttered from the gallows to his people, he said, “Brothers and sisters please look carefully on my face when I die on the gallows. If my face turned towards the east, my country will be free from the foreign yoke within 100 years; if it turns towards the west my country will remain in bondage for good” True to his words in less than 100 years, on the August 15, 1947 the British had to leave the country making U Kiang Nangbah a patriot and a prophet.
As we mark the 151th death anniversary of U Kiang Nangbah, the wounds of brave heart still leave an indelible mark in the history of the Jaintias and in Indian history.
Amandeep and his cousin Veeru Sahni (auto driver by profession) who was honoured in a programme organised by My Home India on December 28 for saving two North-East girls from being raped on December 22. Amandeep with his family who was going towards Safdarjung Hospital to met his new born nephew. On the way to hospital near Lajpatnagar crossing he saw that two girls sitted in an Innova car assumed to be a cab were misbehaved by the two people who was also in that car. After this he chased them for over 2 kilometre and lastly manage to intercepted the car near Aman colony market. Amandeep said that “I initially thought that it was a personal matter but later when I reached near the car things looked suspicious, I saw one of the girls seating on the backseat of the car was shouting and banging the windscreen for help then we rescued them”. Later locals managed to nab the accused and police was informed by my brother Veeru Sahni who made the PCR call while chasing them and also kept telling the police about the location. He also saw while chasing that one of the accused bit the victim on her cheek and trying to tear the cloth of a girl who was sitting in front seat of car. Amadeep thanked to his mother laxmi, wife Megha and sister Jyoti who motivated him for this incident. —Nishant Kumar Azad
Include U Kiang Nangbah in school textbooks
“We are lucky to have freedom fighters like ‘U kiang Nangbah’, a freedom fighter from the Jowai town of Meghalaya. He did not fight only against the imperialism and British taxation policy but also fought for the protection of indigenous traditions against the Christian missionaries. The living plant with three branches which he carries in his hand symbolises: spirit of patriotism, trust and oneness among the Indians. The supreme sacrifice of Nangbah teaches us the principles of ‘no compromises on freedom’ and life as fulfillment of ideas. It is unfortunate that besides a state holiday there is no programme organised on death anniversary of Kiang Nangbah in Meghalaya,” Prof OR Challam of U Kiang Nangbah government college Jowai, Meghalaya, said while speaking at a function organised on 151th death anniversary of ‘U Woh Kiang Nangbah’. The function was organised by My Home India on December 28 in Delhi.
Prof Makkhanlal, a noted historian said “the people of North-East are like brother and sisters of ours and the word ‘chinky’we use for them is not appropriate. We have to stop this humiliating and neglecting nature. North-East is a part of our country and the people from North-East are Indian not Chinese or foreigner”. He also emphasised on changing the pattern in educational pattern and the history of North-East and U Kiang Nangbah should be included in the syllabus through which the coming generation know about him.
Dr N Sushil Singh, Associate Professor, Guru Jambeshwar University, Hisar said on the occasion about Bir Tikendrajit that he is one of the unforgettable figure from Manipur and holds a unique position in Indian freedom struggle and saluted Kiang Nangwah for his sacrifice.
On the occasion, Ms Lingdah (Jeliang Rong Association Delhi, former General Secretary now Committee member spoke about ‘Rani Ma Gaidinliu’ who was a Naga spiritual and political leader who led a revolt against British in India. She played a big role in strengthening Naga women.
Manas Deka (office secretary of National Security and Defence Cell of BJP) spoke about the role and sacrifices of another freedom fighter from North-East, Kanaklata Barua who was shot dead while leading a procession bearing the National Flag during the ‘Quit India Movement’.
Vinay Pandey, general secretary (PR) of My Home India honoured Amandeep and Veeru Sahni (Auto driver) and presented cash prize of Rs 5,000 at the event for saving two girls of North-east from being raped by an Innova driver. —Nishant