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Freedom heroes from the northeast remembered

Posted on Feb 12 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 12 : Little known heroes from the country's northeast played valiant roles during the freedom struggle, reversing a myth - like many other misperceptions - that the region didn't play a great role in the independence movement, says a new book.

"A widespread perception exists that the northeastern region did not actively participate in the Indian freedom struggle," says the book "Little Known Fighters Against the Raj: Figures from Meghalaya". The book has been published by the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, Jamia Millia Islamia.

While the Assamese were better known to have taken part in the freedom movement, others resisted British imperialism in different ways but their names are not known even to scholars and students, the book says.

The lives of these freedom fighters "are rarely remembered" except by some academics of the region and the regional press and during commemorations by local governments and ethnic groups, the book says.

Speaking at the book release Tuesday, Sanjoy Hazarika, director of the Centre for North East Studies and Policy Research, said: "Given the continuing lack of understanding of the region and its people which lead to tragic incidents in process of discrimination, we hope this book can form part of the teaching syllabus and curricula for graduate and post-graduate levels in the social sciences."

The book studies the lives of little known fighters from Meghalaya through essays by prominent historians, scholars and writers such as Imdad Hussain, David R. Syiemlieh, S.N. Lamare, Patricia Mukhim and Abhijit Choudhury. The book is an edited collection of papers presented at a workshop here March 7-8, 2011.

It details the struggles of fighters such as Togan Sangma of Garo Hills, U Tirot Sing, Syiem of Nongkhlaw, U Kiang Nongbah, Dharanidhar Mahanta, Monoranjan Nandi and Nar Bahadur Gurung.

The last three were part of the Indian National Army.

The Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills were annexed and came under political control of the British in phases but not without resistance from traditional chiefs and leaders. Historical records have details of the Garo resistance, particularly that of 1870 when Togan Sangma led his band of fighters against the British.

Much more is known of the Khasi struggle, the book says. It has been termed the Anglo-Khasi War, which it was as the Khasis struggled to keep their independence.

In 1860, and again in 1862, the Jaintias revolted against the British. The Jaintias were led by a commoner, U Kiang Nongbah, who was hanged in 1862 by the British.

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