"The Great Warriors of Bharat"
Today marks the 185th death anniversary of one of the greatest warriors of Bharat "U Tirot Sing".One of the revolutionary leaders of North East India.
He was one of the dynamic leaders who fought against the British Regime.
Thread (1/n).
He was the king of the Khadsawphra Syiemship. U Tirot Singh (‘U’ is the masculine article in the Khasi language), one of the constitutionally chosen chiefs or ‘Syiems’ in the province of Nongkhlow (Nongklaw). (2/n)
Nongkhlow is now a village in the Nongstoin subdistrict of the West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, roughly 63 km from Shillong and about 101 km from Guwahati.There were 25 petty states in the Khasi Hills. (3/n)
Of these, 15 were presided over by the Syiems, even though all the heads belonged to the same clan, they were all chosen by popular election.Tirot Singh was a visionary leader and well loved by his people.
He had the interest of his people in mind and so, when the British led by David Scott approached him with the proposal to build a road connecting Guwahati to Sylhet.
He welcomed the idea, thinking it would give him and his tribe access as well as control over the duars or passes in Assam and a flourishing trade route right up to the Surma Valley (in present-day Bangladesh).
With this end in view, Tirot Singh and the other chiefs held a durbar or a court with David Scott in 1827.
After an intensive discussion among the chiefs, they granted their consent to the construction of a road from Rani (near Guwahati) via Nongkhlow to the Surma Valley
The work started at once and, soon, bungalows came up at Nongkhlow. For about 18 months, work proceeded smoothly and the officers mixed freely with the local tribesmen and maintained cordial relations.(8/n)
British historian, Sir Edward Gait mentions in his book ‘The History of Assam’ (1906) that in April 1829, there arose a sense of great alarm among the Khasis in Nongkhlow when a Bengali peon told them that the British had ulterior motives for building that road. (9/n)
He said they were planning to levy taxes on the local people and subjugate them as soon as the road was completed.Tirot Singh also learned of reinforcements being brought in to Guwahati. He convened another durbar and also instructed the British to vacate Nongkhlow(10/n)
The latter, of course, paid no heed. This angered Tirot Singh and he led a sudden attack on a small band of officers on 4th April 1829 (Prof P N Dutta - Glimpse into the History of Assam, Shillong, 1986 ) (11/n)
Alarmed at the sudden development, British troops were immediately summoned from both Sylhet and Kamrup, and drastic steps were taken to put down the rebellion. The Khasis under Tirot Singh offered stiff resistance to the British, resorting mainly to guerilla warfare. (12/n)
But, sadly, they were armed only with native weapons like bows, arrows and swords, which eventually proved futile against the sophisticated guns and battle strategy of the British .In spite of these drawbacks, the Khasis didn’t give up easily .(13/n)
The conflict dragged on for four long years. But, as days passed, one chief after another began to accept submission. Tirot Singh was also injured and took refuge in the surrounding caves. (14/n)
Unfortunately, Tirot Singh was betrayed and his hideout given away by a native who had been bribed by the British, and Tirot Singh was forced to surrender on 9th January 1833.(15/n)
After a namesake trial, Tirot Singh was deported to Dhaka (in present-day Bangladesh), where he died in captivity . U Tirot Singh breathed his last on 17th July 1835. It is believed that he died of a stomach ailment.(16/n)
Tirot Singh was not only one of the most loved and respected Syiems, but his patriotism and courage have also made him a household name in Meghalaya. A true son of the soil, who had the welfare of his people at heart & who took a firm stand against Britishers.. (17/n)
Source of information & Credits
1.U Tirot Singh by Hamlet Bareh
2.U Tirot Singh by Hipson Roy
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