Manipuri warrior portrayed as a tribal freedom fighter, the comic publisher says sorry

Amar Chitra Katha Executive Editor Reena Puri on Sunday issued an apology for including Manipuri military hero Ponam Brajbasi in her collection “Tribal Leaders of the Freedom Struggle” as part of the Amrit Mahotsav celebrations of Independence.

The apology comes two days after four Imphal-based student bodies – AMSU, MSF, KSA and SUK – objected to the inclusion of Brajbasi in the edition, banning the comic book.

Amar Chitra Katha in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Culture has brought out a version of the comics.
Brajbasi was an army officer in the Manipuri kingdom of Kanglipak and fought against the British in the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891. The war took place when the British tried to control the rule of Manipur, placing their own ruler in the seat of the king. a rebellion. It is believed that Brajbasi got an offer to work for the British and when he refused, he was executed.

“The war of 1891 has nothing to do with the Indian freedom struggle. Manipuri army was protecting our state. Then how can it be included in this Amrit Chitra Katha book? Also, Manipuris are not tribal, so how can the government incorporate the story of Brajbasi into a book about tribal freedom fighters? This is highly condemnable,” S Bidyanand, convener of the Joint Student Coordination Committee.

In the apology, Puri said: “Amar Chitra Katha regrets the use of the story of the Manipuri warrior, Ponam Brajbasi, in her collection Tribal Leaders of the Freedom Struggle, published in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, for activities celebrating independence. is as part. Amrit Festival. The warrior’s name was inadvertently placed on the list of tribal warriors. We have removed the story from the collection and apologize for any inconvenience caused to the Manipuri people.

Brajbasi is an important personality of Manipur. His story is not only to benefit the state. Inclusion is an act of appropriation by the centre. Although this is not the first such case, the government should have kept in mind the historical accuracy. He was neither a tribal nor a war related to the freedom movement.
The government is pushing the idea of ​​a unitary, singular India, which is problematic. And through this homogenization, the Center is not allowing Manipuris to retain their unique collective memories,’ said Homen Thangjam, a teacher at Manipuri University. Meanwhile, sources in the Ministry of Culture said: that “mistakes could happen”.

The ministry is accused of publishing stories of 75 freedom fighters. It has already brought out three editions – first on 20 women freedom fighters, second on 15 women Constituent Assembly members and third on 20 tribal freedom fighters.

“We are looking at hundreds of freedom fighters and shortlisting the names is a lengthy process. We are trying to represent every state. We forward the list of unsung heroes to Amar Chitra Katha and they further shortlist the names based on their research. He had already cut out 4-5 names from the book on tribal freedom fighters, knowing that the proposed names were not Adivasis. So, of course, there may have been a mistake,” a source in the Ministry of Culture said.

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