You’ll take my life, but I’ll take yours too
You’ll fire your musket, but I’ll run you through
So when you’re waiting for the next attack
You’d better stand, there’s no turning back – Iron Maiden (The Tropper)
They look at him with suspicion, curiosity and the desire to know, it’s been three years in a row now, every May 16th. What really arouses their curiosity is why on his hostel room door: Jorhat Medical College & Hospital, Boys’ Hostel, Room no. 23 (Eagle’s Nest) he hangs – a traditional HMAR SHAWL? Not on his birthday nor on Chirstmas Day, but on 16th May. What all they could comprehend of is: it must be important occasion and they want to know more about it.
Yes, he believes it must be very interesting for a none Hmar friends to know why their wall-mate keeps on doing this. Taking photos, praying, singing some very very patriotic songs. Music from his laptop are unlike the songs they heard the other days, no more sounds of Judas Priest or Iron Maiden. But the sound of a woman singer mentioning and singing supposedly something about men and women for their love of the Hmar tribe in their quest for ‘Hmar Land’ who have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom: their lives.
Two of his friends drop by to ask him and dig to the bottom of it why he always did this as if it is one of his tribal rituals, he told them it’s his tribe’s Martyrs’ Day, the glorious May 16th, but a day of mourning for the lost of brave men and women who have died gloriously on the field of battle. They asked as to why the MAR (as they pronounce it) people celebrated/marked May the 16thas Martyrs’ Day and not the anniversary of the assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (Father of the Nation) on January 30th, 1948?
He told them they won’t understand what it means even when they can’t even correctly pronounce the name of his tribe, which is ‘H-M-A-R’ not ‘M-A-R’. Anyway, what is the harm in sharing some history of his tribe to his friends if they want to know he thought.
Back in 1960 he started, one tribal tribe Kuki started some sort of civil war to the Hmars. There was an ugly hand to hand, stick to stick, dagger to dagger, spear to spear, a real barbaric battle fight between brothers for six long months, many brave men and women lost their lives. So, to remember and to show respect for the souls of the death there was some sort of ceremony to remember them every year. That was the Hmar’s first Martyr’s Days. He proudly told them, the Hmars are the first to be Martyred after India’s Independence in 1947.
To add fear and superiority of his tribe to his friends he told them his ancestors were really human head hunters who danced to celebrate the heads they took from enemies whole day and night. There was an eerie silence in his room even though it was before 12:00 in the morning. He told them he indeed is not a headhunter, but a heart hunter, once they knew their tribal friend is not going to cut off their heads there was a sight of relief in their faces.
The present May 16th Martyr’s Day started quite recently as compared to the previous one he continued. This one he added, actually is indeed a long story and has its major root cause in Mizoram. As like the Lai, Mara and Chakmawho also resided in Mizoram and has their own Autonomous District, the Hmar leaders in Mizoram started an organization called Hmar Association (HA) on July 3, 1986 in Aizawl which was later changed to Hmar People’s Convention (HPC) in Sakawrdai on September 22, 1986 for the sole purpose to deal with and asked for it an Autonomous District for the Hmars inhibited in Mizoram to the Mizoram Government. After so many futile attempts to the Mizoram Governor and its Government, the HPC turned to the Central Government for help. On the contrary to what they asked and expected the central government instructed the Mizoram government to give more proper attention to the educational system of the Hmar inhibited areas. After Lalthanhawla became the Chief Minister of Mizoram on January 21st , 1989 the Hmars once again met up with him for the same issue, but to no avail.
There was constant resentment after they felt they are not treated like they thought they were supposed to be by the Mizoram government. So, they started all sorts of bandhs and civil disobedience movement starting from 28thMarch, 1989 a 24 hours to 144 hours band to the Hmar inhibited areas. To which the Mizoram Armed Police (Most popularly known as MAP by civilians) decided to be a little bit more harsh to the Hmars every time the bandhs and civil disobedience movement intensifies. There was a lot of bloodshed which resulted in men and women to take up arms and run into the jungle to fight the MAP for their own rights and land. Thus, the Hmar Volunteer Cell (HVC) was born. A group dedicated to the cause of Hmars’ rights and land in Mizoram and to fight for it until it is won.
According to what Prasenjit Biswas and C. Joshua Thomas wrote in “Peace in India’s North-East: meaning, metaphor and method (2006)”A retiredSub-Inspector by the name Vanlalauva who during his time in the Indian army killed more than 50 MAPs and who has received more than 60 times gallantry award for the same has become the army leader of the MAP for their attempt to uproot the HVC in Mizoram. In doing so the HVC without proper weapons and ammunitions other than Hmar made single barrel gun very inaccurate, but well handled by the HVC known popularly as Hmarkhangzephad to run for safety away from the MAPs who are armed to the teeth compared to them.
The HVC from Mizoram ran to Assam for safety meanwhile the MAP without the consent of the Assam government and breaking the jurisdiction of the Assam government followed them hard until they reached Monierkhal Tea Estate.There, the HVC put up an ambushed position, their first gunshot killed Vanlalauva who was shot in the forehead and was killed instantly. There was a gun fight for many hours after which three died from MAP and two from HVC-Lalhuoplien (Sakordai) and Lienhmingthang (Sartuinek). With no proper guns and ammunitions to cover each other to take with them the bullet riddled bodies of their comrades the HVC ran once again meanwhile deeply mourning the deaths of their brothers in arms who laid dead in the hands of the enemy.
The bodies of Lalhuoplien and Lienhmingthang were taken to Silchar Medical College on May 19th For post mortem and later handed it over to the leaders of the Hmars in Cachar. As regarded and accepted they were given a burial none like others. They are mourned, respected and esteemed by all for they die for the cause of the Hmars and were wished to rest their souls in peace. They are motivations for a new generation of fighter for the Hmars and they will be remembered forever for their act of courage and heroism under fire in the face of the enemy.
It was in December 1989 the HPC alone celebrated this day May 16th As the day of Martyr’s, but was later celebrated/remembered by all the Hmars as Martyr’s Day. On May 11th , 1989 Laltlansung Mihriemate from Patpuihmun wrote the first Martyr’s song and it was indeed the first cassetted martyr’s song sung by the renowned Hmar woman singer Nienglawmkim.
Martyrs’ Day Hla (1991)
Composer: Laltlansung Mihriemate
Hi khawvela hnam ze tinrenghai ta din,
Hmun le ram Chungkhuonun a lo ruotpek;
Hmar nau lenghai khom hmun le ram chu zong vein,
Val mihranghan an hringna an inhlan.
Mihrang fam lo changhai, in ta din hun le ni
A tharin kan hung inhlan cheu;
Hmar nau zaleng ruolhan May ni 16 hi,
Martyr Day ti’n kan inhlan cheu.
Ram santu mihrang, buonleia zal ta hai,
In tlawmngaina kan innghil thei lul nawh;
Tlang tin muol tinah sam ang lo zal inla khom,
In sakhming hril hi bang thei nawng kan tih.
Ram le hnam ta dinga mi tlawmngai hai le
Hringna chen lo inhlantuhai leiin,
Ei hnamin par ang vul ni la nei ngei a ta,
An sakhming thrangthar lai mawi zuol a tih.
These are some of the 44 known members of Hmar People’s Convention who died during the HPC Movement before signing the Peace Accord with Mizoram.
1. Lienkhawthang, Sartuinek, Moniarkhala.
2. Lalhuoplien, Sakawrdai, died in Moniarkhala.
3. J. Lalngurliana, Sailutar, died in Khawlien jungle.
4. Lalnuntluong, Mauchar, died in Kolasib (Rengte kawn).
5. Lalhmingthang, Tinghmun, died in Sartuineka.
6. Sapzawmlien, Sakawrdai, died in Kolasiba P/S.
7. Lalthangsei, Sakawrdai, died in Kolasib P/S.
8. Saikaplien, Tinghmun, died in Churachandpur.
9. H. L Biekien, Lungthuliena, died in Churachandpura.
10. Changneikung, Kawtlien, died in Khawdungsei jungle.
11. Kaltluong, Kawtlien, died in Khawdungsei jungle.
12. Lalruotsang, Kawtlien, died in Khawdungsei jungle.
13. Dolien, Sailutar, died in Aizawla P/S.
14. Ngurbieklien, Vaitina, died in Maulien.
15. Lalnilien, Tinghmuna, died in Khawliena.
16. Zoarthang, Pherzawl, died in Saipum-Saiphai.
17. Lalthangsei, Sakawrdai, died in Saipum-Saiphai.
18. Lalkhumlien, Tinghmun, died in Tuiruong river.
19. H.L.Huola, Lungthulien, died in Patpuihmun jungle.
20. Tlangbiekthuom, Lungthulien, died in Patpuihmun jungle.
21. Lalngaichhung, Sakawrdai, died in paddy field of Arda.
22. Lalparlawma, Phuoibuong, died in paddy field of Sitam.
23. J.H.Thanzama, Sakawrdai, died in Tinsuong (camp).
24. Lalchhanchhuah, Lungthulien, died in Tinsuong (camp).
25. Larolien, Khawlien, died in Tinsuong (camp).
26. Zaneisang, Sakawrdai, died in Tinsuong (camp).
27. Daihmingthang, Vaitin, died in Lungthulien.
28. N.K.Lama Vaiphei, New Vervek, died in Aizawla Central Jail.
29. Vanramthang, B. Vaitin, died in Muolvaiphei.
30. Lalboi Haokip, Tuibuong, died in Phaipuiram.
31. Joyful Infimate, Imphal, died in Phaipuiram.
32. John Barnet Varte, Tinghmun, died in Joypura.
33. Rev. Laltanlien, Retzawl, died in Nowgong Jaila.
34. J. Sangkhum, Sartuinek, died in Tuiruong river.
35. Lalnunzir, Zohmun, died in Tuiruong river.
36. Lalhmingsang, Suongpuilawn, died in Tuiruong river.
37. Lalremvel, Arda, died in Arda.
38. J. Samuel, Kapakhala, died in Retzawla.
39. Zomawi, Hmartlangmawi, dien in Hmartlangmawia.
40. Vanlalsiem, Sakawrdai, died in Silchar Central Jail.
41. Chalhranglien, Parbung, died in Zakra dawr.
42. Thanglienkhum, Sakawrdai, died in Rengkai bridge.
43. Vanlalsawm, Sakawrdai, died in Pherzawl jungle.
44. J. Lalhminglien, Lamka, died in Damdiel jungle.
After his friends left him in awe, he thought he will blog about the things he knew and there it was. He thinks what most people think about his tribe- HMAR to be very wrong, First of all he knows for sure it doesn’t shit being calledHmar, and Hmars are not the lowest of the low and neither the scum of earth, the most wretched, miserable, servile, pathetic trash that was ever to set into civilization. And, it’s not a shit state of affairs to be in being a Hmar with all the affairs and hardship coupled with the constant struggling within her. After all he is proud to call himself a progressive, young Hmar adult as the rest of the Hmars, strutting towards their goals in life. Life fires difficulties and hardship, but he will take his time to clear his way out. He will run it through, waiting for the next challenge because he is as he is a steadfast Hmar and will never give up for what he believes and will never ever turn back.
As we go on, we will remember them for all the things they did for us, for our future. What can be done more in our part than to stand united or to continue fighting among ourselves? Looking down on us from heaven, Will they ever be satisfied for the lives they laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom? Will the past be only a shadow that will follow us around? Will our memories of them fade in time? I wish and keep reminding myself it’s time to stand united as we are- Hmar and time to fly high.
GOD BLESS HMAR: The nation whose God is the LORD!
Happy Martyrs’ Day to you all
(Jorhat, May 16th, Thursday, 2013)