| Freedom fighter Pu Khotinthang Sitlhou’s statue that was unveiled at Taloulong village in Senapati district on Wednesday. Picture by UB Photos |
Imphal, Jan. 9: Pu Khotinthang Sitlhou, a Thadou Kuki freedom fighter, finally got recognition for his contribution to Manipur’s freedom struggle against the British when his statue was unveiled by education minister M. Okendro Singh today.
The statue was erected at Taloulong village in Sadar Hills of Senapati district. Kuki communities gathered at Taloulong to witness the event. Kuki and Naga delegations from Nagaland and Assam, too, were present on the occasion.
“Unsung hero of Anglo-Thadou war” read the plaque below the statue. The programme was organised by Pu Khotinthang Sitlhou Memorial Celebration Committee.
Taloulong is a newly set up Kuki village after the Kukis shifted from Tamenglong district during the Kuki-Naga clashes in 1990s. They named the newly settled village Taloulong, taking the original name of the village in Tamenglong district. The entire village shifted to the present place.
According to Sitlhou council, Pu Khotinthang Sitlhou, also known as Kilkhong, led the Anglo-Thadou war from 1917 to 1919 against the British for Manipur’s freedom.
In the three-year war, 4,900 freedom fighters and civilians were killed and 269 villages destroyed. Khotinthang Sitlhou was a Thadou tribal of the Kuki community, Sitlhou council said.
Kilkhong, chief of Jampi village of what is now Tamenglong district, hosted a feast for Thadou chiefs on March 17, 1917 and on this day he declared a war against the British.
He sent pieces of meat to the tribal chiefs of Manipur, Naga hills, North Cachar Hills, Assam and Burma. The chiefs ate this “meat of vow”, swearing to fight the British until Manipur’s independence was restored.
The British conquered the then princely state of Manipur in 1891 and Manipur became a part of the Indian Union on October 15, 1949.
A 67-member delegation of Angami Nagas from Nagaland and a 60-member Kuki delegation from Assam also came to take part in the programme.
“Pu Kilkhong was very close to Semoma Khel of Kohima’s Khonoma. It is very good to take part in the event. We have common history and fought together against the British,” V. Mor, 67, a resident of Semoma Khel, said.
He said Semoma and Thadou Kukis had close ties.
Okendro and irrigation and flood control minister Ngamthagn Haokip released two white doves, symbolising peace.
Deputy chief minister Gaikhangam, who attended the latter part of the programme, called on the people to maintain communal harmony in the state.
Cultural programmes were held to mark the occasion and a group of artistes presented a theme song praising Thadou war heroes.