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Tale of unsung freedom fighter widens ambit

- Book on Khuangchera, the first Mizo to die fighting the British, translated into Hindi

Aizawl, May 19: You must stand up to be counted. Mizoram now has a book in Hindi on a freedom fighter whose fame had never spread beyond the state.

The country will now know Khuangchera when they read Shoorvir Khuangchera, a book written by Prof. Laltluangliana Khiangte of Mizoram University and now translated into Hindi by C. Kamlova, an expert in Hindi here.

Khiangte had originally written Pasaltha Khuangchera in Mizo in 1997. The same year, the Mizo Academy of Letters named it the Book of the Year. Later, it was translated into English. The book has been included in the Mizo language curriculum at Mizoram University.

The translated version, a 130-page book, has been published by the Delhi-based Indian Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and can be accessed from the Internet with its ISBN number: 1978-81-8465-390-8.

“I was eager to have my book translated into Hindi so that the large section of Hindi readers across the country can come to realise that there were people in this remote place who had laid down their lives for the motherland against the British imperialists,” Khiangte said.

He felt that Khuangchera should be put in the same league as Subhas Chandra Bose and Bhagat Singh.

“Khuangchera should posthumously be awarded the Bharat Ratna for his role as an Indian freedom fighter. It was not only his bravery but also his strength and righteousness that won the hearts of his people.” Khiangte said.

Khuangchera was the first Mizo freedom fighter to lay down his life fighting British imperialism. He was killed while trying to resist advancing British troops in 1890, which saw the British conquest of the Lushai Hills — now Mizoram.

A lesser-known Mizo warrior, Ngurbawng, died alongside Khuangchera in the firing that took place at Changsil near Aizawl. Khuangchera Memorial Committee, which is chaired by Khiangte, constructed a memorial stone at Changsil in 2010.

Mizoram was incorporated into the colonial empire during the last part of the 19th century. The resistance against colonialism in Lushai Hills was no less intense than in any other part of India. The immediate result of colonial expansion was a rise in the numbers of widows of chiefs, said Mizo historian B. Lalthangliana.

“The Mizo chiefs and their widows were in a dilemma and forced to negotiate with and make certain adjustments with the colonial government. It was during this critical time that many women chiefs, including Ropuiliani, emerged in the colonial archives,” he said.

In the post-colonial and contemporary rethinking of the history of resistance against colonialism in Lushai Hills, Ropuiliani has become an ethnic idol of patriotism. But other women who also struggled against colonialism — like Buki, Lalhlupuii, Rothangpuii, Vanhnuaithangi, Laltheri, Darbilhi, Neihpuithangi, Pawibawia Nu, Dari, Thangpuii, Pakuma Rani and Zawlchuaii — remain comparatively unknown.