3-month-long 70th anniversary celebration of Battle of Imphal
IMPHAL, February 4
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he 70th anniversary of Battle of Imphal, considered Britain’s greatest battle of World War II, will be observed under the aegis of Manipur Tourism Forum (MTT) and Second World War Imphal Campaign Foundation (WWICF) for three months in Manipur from March 23 to June 28 this year.This was an nounced by the functionaries of MTT and WWICF during a press conference in Imphal on Tuesday. This is the period when the World War II was fought in the soil of Manipur 70 years ago.“We feel that such a commemoration will allow us to remember and pay our respects to all those who fell, were injured or affected by the events of 1944,”said Yumnam Rajeshwar, key functionary of Imphal Campaign World War II. “It will also help shine a much-needed spotlight on what is otherwise a forgotten, yet important, chapter of Manipur’s, India’s and the world’s history,” he said
Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh has agreed to be the chief patron of the observartion.
In the year 1944, Manipur was witness to an epic battle between the British-led allies and the Japanese and the Indian National Army (INA). From March to July of that year, over 2,00,000 Japanese, Britons, Indians, Gurkhas and men from several other nations clashed in the hills and valley of Manipur in what had since been described as one of the greatest battles of the Second World War. Indeed, April 20, 2013, the combined battle of Imphal/Kohima was named as Britain’s Greatest Battle by the National Army Museum of the United Kingdom.
“Organising such commemoration will allow us to remember and pay respects to those who fell, injured or affected by the war in 1944,” said MTT president Dr Th Dhabali.
Battle of Imphal is also significant from a national perspective. It saw Indian soldiers fighting on both sides in the Second World War – together with the Japanese as part of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s INA and with the British as part of the British-Indian Army. The area surrounding the Moreh Road is the only place in India where more than 6,000 men of the INA fought during the War. The INA flag was also hoisted for the first time in the country at Moirang on April 14, 1944.
For Manipur and its people, the Battle of Imphal in particular and the Second World War in general was a period of no less importance. The year 1944 saw destruction and fighting took place on an unprecedented scale across Manipur. Thousands of people were displaced by the war. It was also for the first time that the land saw such a diverse gathering of nationalities and people from around the country and the world. Indeed, it would be hard to find a household in Manipur today that was not affected in one way or another by the dramatic happenings of 1944 and the Second World War.