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The unsung heroes of Meghalaya



By Mananya Singh

Once there lived two very talented children in a village. They grew up admiring their father, who was the chief of the village.

Raghav was 16 years old and his sister Rani was 14. Their fine upbringing had made them mature and intelligent. They both dreamt of continuing the good work of their father and hoped to drive change in their society.

One day, while returning from school, the brother-sister witnessed a group of Britishers arresting their father. They immediately remembered the instructions of their father – to hide before being spotted by the British army. They were shocked to see their father being taken away. They felt helpless!

After a few days, they were informed that their father had died due to unknown reasons. They immediately understood that he was killed. This filled them with rage and guilt. As the news of their father’s death spread through the village, there was an immediate need to choose another village chief.

Arjun, the younger brother of the dead chief made Raghav and Rani understand that violence is never the solution. He emphasised that they should keep walking on the path shown by their father and focus on the educational and personal developments of the people around them. “That’s the only way to liberate the country from the Britishers,” he said.

Years later, Arjun led the Khasis in their fight against the British rule. Between 1829 and 1833, the Anglo-Khasi War was fought. But after securing the Brahmaputra Valley and Surma Valley, the British sought permission from Arjun, the chief of the Khasis, to construct a road cutting through the hills inhabited by the Khasis.

The British, represented by their political agent David Scott, stated that if the permission was granted, Arjun would be given control of the duars (alluvial floodplains of Assam). He was promised favourable terms of trade. Thinking that this would be a great opportunity for the development of his people, he agreed to the deal.

Raghav and Rani were not happy with the deal. They knew that the Britishers were not trust-worthy. Arjun, blinded by the lies of becoming successful through trade, did not agree with the siblings. As expected, the British reneged on their promise.

Later, Arjun’s forces attacked the British garrison stationed at Nongkhlaw in which two officers were killed. The British retaliated with their superior modern firearms. Raghav and Rani supported Arjun and together with Arjun and his men, battled the British for four years engaging in a Guerilla warfare.

Raghav and Rani were martyred fighting a battle for their motherland. They died with dignity just like their father. Their last words to Arjun were, “Uncle, though we are dying, this struggle for freedom must continue. We are proud that we could serve our motherland along with you”.

Arjun was devastated but he continued fighting. While he was hiding out in the hills after sustaining a bullet injury, he was betrayed by one of his men and soon captured by the British forces. He was deported to Dhaka where he was tortured in captivity and later killed.

Raghav and Rani remained the unsung heroes of the struggle for freedom in Meghalaya. The story of their bravery still inspires many.