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The Historical, Archaeological, Religious & Cultural Significance Of 'Kangla': The Ancient Citadel Of Manipur

Pandit N.Khelchandra Singh

11. Final Assault On Kangla - The Anglo-Manipuri War Of 1891:

The first battle of the Anglo-Manipuri War of 1891 was fought when the British forces under order from J.W. Quinton, the Chief Commissioner of Assam, attacked Kangla, the Manipur Fort, in the early hour of 24th March 1891. Then Manipur was an independent Asiatic power in alliance with the British Sovereign. This aggression led to the war and ultimately Manipur was conquered by the British on 27th April, 1891. To give a short description of the assault on Kangla: two British columns under Lt. Brackenbury of the 44th Gurkha Rifles and Capt. Butcher of the 42nd Gurkha Rifles went to arrest Jubraj Tikendrajit Singh of Manipur within the fort enclosure of Maharaja's palace. Lt J.Chattertone of 42nd Gurkha Rifles was also sent with a party to take the west gate of Kangla.

This sanguinary battle was fought on the very spot of the moat and northern wall Manipur Fort in 1891. The mode of British attack on the morning of 24th March,1891 was: Lt. Brackenbury with 30 rifles of 44th Gurkha started first before daybreak and made his way along ordinary road to the north entrance of the fort so as to escape along the Kohima road. There was no gate to be forced on that face as the outer wall of the fort was in ruins and the moat itself dry. Following Lt. Brackenbury at short interval, Capt. Butcher with 70 rifles of the 42nd Gurkhas moved from the camp and crossed the moat on the west face where the water ceased, and rushed to Jubaraj's house. Lt Luggaro with 40 rifles (20 men of the 42nd and 20 rifles of the 44th) was to support that party. Lastly Lt Chatterton with 50 rifles was detailed to capture and hold the west gate of the outer enclosure. In this manner, British troops attacked the house of the Jubaraj. But the Jubaraj was not found.

Thereupon the British army committed atrocities on men, women and children and even destroyed idols in the sacred temple of Brindavan Chandra. But Pukhramba Tanka Singh resisted bravely and died bravely with sword in hand. After fighting for some time the enemy occupied the house of the Jubaraj by killing three boys by shooting. They set fire to the houses of neighbouring villagers. Entering into the temple they smashed the idol and all other articles along with it. Then they burnt houses, destroyed idols and killed boys and girls, cows etc. Having tied up the hairs of two girls together they threw them into the fire and got them burnt. Men and women, children from the enclosure of the Jubaraj had run into the citadel of the Maharaja and severe fighting continued the whole day. But the British operation ended in complete failure. Lt. Brackenbury, 44th Gorkha Rifles, Subadar Hemchand, 44th Gurkha rifles, one Havildar and some other sepoys were severely wounded.


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