By Tennoson Pheiray for The Naga Republic | Ukhrul/November 6
Drawing lessons from the tragedy of the First World War, Deputy British High Commissioner of India Bruce Bucknell called upon the present day leaders to ‘think really hard before sending the young people to war and possible death”. He said this during the ongoing Centenary celebration of World War I Tangkhul Naga Labour Corps (1917-18) at TNL Ground, Ukhrul on November 6.
“One lesson that came out of the First World War for generations of people, politician, diplomats and decision makers is to think really hard before sending the young people to war and to possible death”, the British diplomat said while thanking the World War I Tangkhul Naga Labour Corps Association (WWITNLCA) for their persistence and ingenuity in bringing them all to celebrate and remember the service and sacrifice given hundred years ago.
Bruce Bucknell said that it is through memory that we will give honour and dignity to the ancestors while also pointing out that the British alone could not have conducted the war without help from French allies and the support by nearly 15 Lakhs Indian.
He informed that 21000 Labour Corps from India participated and 1200 alone came from Ukhrul District and 170 did not come back. “One day, I will come back and I hope to see the colour of your labour corps, the flower perhaps of Manipur because we need to remember and give dignity to our ancestors” he added.
He wished Ukhrul District prosperity in the future and hoped they would rise to support others as their fathers, grand fathers, great grand fathers and ancestors have given support during the First World War.
Colonel Ludovic Dumont, Air Force Defence Attache in India and Nepal, Representative of France Embassy New Delhi in his speech gave honour to the labour corps for the service and the life they have sacrificed for both the countries.
He mentioned that the French have never forgotten the suffering and the sacrifice of the Labour Corps and took time to thank and pay rich tribute. He stated that we shall cherish, above all the memory and the example they have set. “They fell for us; it is they who took the first steps towards the final victory”.
Losii Dikho, Minister PHED, Government of Manipur graced the opening ceremony as Chief Guest at the ongoing Centenary celebration while Bruce Bucknell, Deputy British High Commissioner of India and Colonel Ludovic Dumont, Air Force Defence Attache in India and Nepal, Representative of France Embassy New Delhi were the guests of honour.
I. K. Muivah, Inspector General of Police, Manipur, Colonel James Robinson, Colonel Brigade of Gurkha British Army and Colonel Tom Marsden, Royal Engineers British Army were the special guests.
P. Peimi, President i/c Tangkhul Naga Long and AS. Vaomi, President Tangkhul Naga Wungnao Long were the functional president. Dr. Harmit Singh Pahuja, DC Ukhrul, Worngam Ningshen, SP Ukhrul, HA. Sarimaya, Hunphun Awunga and AS. Wungayung Peter Hungpung Awunga were the special invitees.
Later, IK Muivah, unveiled the monument dedicated in memory of the 2000 labour corps from 22 Manipur Labour Corps Company. The dignitaries present gave military salutation and laid wreaths as a mark of respect and remembrance.
Thousands of Tangkhul public and descendants of labour corps attended the opening programme. During the programme, World War I Tangkhul Naga Labour Corps Association (WWITNLCA) also submitted a memorandum to the Government of Manipur for construction of Museum at Ukhrul.