Their forefathers, apt in martial art (lathikhel or twin sticks), came to Assam from Manipur sometime in the 18th century, settled at Katakhal near Salchapra in Cachar district, continued to live at a village called Nandirgang, and provided security to others who were under security threat, of course when hired. In the events of land disputes under British India when the win in an ‘open and declared battle’ between the warring parties was one of the deciding criteria in determining ownership of disputed lands, most of the zamindars (landlords) used to hire the likes of Golapgiri and his sibling Chandra Kirti, all lathials of repute of this clan called Chirua Lokei, a cousin clan of Lempa Lokei or Lempa Raja, so as to ensure the ownership of disputed lands. This is not all. As and when they were requested for help in the event of torture by others, the likes of Golapgiri among the Chiruas turned generosity incarnates so as to ensure security of the oppressed. The irony, however, is that after independence of India this one of the bravest clans migrated to Assam from Manipur started to lose the applause of their valour; and now the very security of this once security-providing clan is under threat, thanks to the current imbalanced demographic situation they are under.
If the brief yet thought-provoking speech delivered by Prof. Kamini Mohan Sinha at the Chirua Milan (a congregation of the Chirua clan) held with his uncle Dabalgiri Sinha in the chair on Sunday last (April 29, 2012) is any indication, the Chiruas don’t want to live under the silhouette of their glorious past, rather they want to do something that befits them to claim themselves as the scions of the likes of Golapgiri, albeit in a different ball game altogether; in conformity with ethics, laws, norms and tastes of the time. The congregation was first of its kind in the history of the Bishnupriya Manipuris outside Manipur.
Setting the prime objectives of the congregation right – unity and integrity, development and security – Prof. Sinha said: “Unity is something that can pivot everything. We need to take special care of this aspect in our life if we are to live up to our expectations. Anything that divides a family, a clan and a community is a sin, and a person who indulges in such activities is a sinner. Lack of unity and integrity is something that a microscopic minority community like ours can ever afford to.”
Professor Sinha resented that the unity and integrity that his forefathers once had is seen neither in the very clan he belongs to nor in the community as a whole.
On development front, Prof. Sinha said: “It’s the yardstick that determines what we exactly are. We need to see that our children groom properly so that they can do something valuable for themselves, the clan and the community as a whole. I feel too much stress on our children to make them run after job avenues like engineering, medical and computer sciences after completion of ten plus two in the science stream needs a change. They should also be guided for career opportunities in the administrative services like IAS that need a cutthroat competition. Such career options can put them at the helm affairs, a factor that is very essential for the survival of a minority community like ours.”
On the security of the clan and the community as a whole, Prof. Sinha said: “There was no security threat to our clan at Katakhal from the next-door neighbours ever. However, in the recent past, we faced a situation that hasn’t allowed us to ensure smooth implementation of an anti-erosion scheme on the bank of the Katakhal, a tributary of the Barak. The major roadblock that the scheme had to hit was goonda tax from a section of people belonging to a group of neighbouring community. This clan lives at Nandirgang along the Katakhal, and the village may be gobbled up by the river anytime if anti-erosion measures are not taken right now. Over the years, security threat was quite alien to us, but we have got to know it now that gone are those days. The twin security threats staring at us are the voracious river and the highly imbalanced demography. We need to gauge the gravity of the situation and do the needful before it is too late.”
Before independence of India, a few Chiruas, for their skillful martial arts, had been given settlement near Kabuganj as the Bisnhupriya Manipuris living there were under the threat of attacks from the Luseis (now Mizos). The Chiruas who had settled there had ably protected others from attacks from Lusei hills, and taught the other fellow members of the community martial arts for their self-defence. The irony is that about a century downstream, their scions are under security threat. In this onslaught of time and culture, the Chiruas are keen to discover as to what has gone wrong in them, how and why.
Earlier in the day, Ananda Sinha, also a Chirua, gave a detailed account on the objectives of the congregation. He made a fervent appeal to all his fellow members in the clan and their relatives to cooperate with each other as and when they are in trouble or they have any Herculean tasks that demand collective efforts. He collected telephone numbers of all those gathered at the congregation so as to ensure smooth communication among them.
While Angshuman Sinha, a Chirua, told the gathering a few stories connected to legendary hero Golapgiri who had belonged to the Chirua clan, Rajkumar Chandradhvaja Sinha, a member from the cousin clan of Chirua, Lemparaja or Lempa Lokei, spoke on the relations between the two clans, and as to how a Lempa scion was coronated as the king in Pratapgarh in Karimganj district.
The meet didn’t end there. After the lunch, they formed a Chirua development body with Angshuman Sinha as the president and Ananda Sinha as the secretary. Prof. Kamini Sinha and Dabalgiri Sinha were appointed as advisers, besides other members.