SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)
A book titled, Nongsamei Puya (Pangal Khunthoklon), which records the history of Muslim settlement in Manipur, edited by M.A. Janab Khan and O. Bhogeswar Singh was released on October 23, 2014 at Manipur Press Club, Imphal.
The book-release function, organized by All Manipur Muslims (Meitei Pangal) Welfare Association (AMPWA) was attended by Chairperson of Manipur State Minorities Commission A. Halim Chowdhury, IAS (Retd.), A.R. Khan, IAS (Retd.), Former Speaker of Manipur Legislative Assembly Dr. Maneruddin Sheikh, Vice-President of AMPWA Md. Akhtar Hussain and Research Scholar B. Kulachandra Sharma as Chief Guest, President and Guests of Honour respectively.
Speaking about the book, Prof. M.A. Janab Khan said, “The book released today is a puya or archaic Manipuri text, which is rendered into modern Manipuri. The text deals with the history of Muslim settlement in the valley of Manipur in the medieval times. This is an important text which needs to be read by today’s generation to know and understand how the Muslim community took its root in the valley of Manipur.”
“The book was first published in 1973. I had printed a limited number of copies. The book is not available in the market. I, therefore, reprint the text to make it available to the inquisitive educated sections of today’s society. I am grateful to Wakf Board, Manipur for giving financial assistance for the publication of the second edition of the book,” he added. M.A. Janab Khan was Additional Director of Education (U). He is, at present, the President of AMPWA.
Research Scholar B. Kulachandra Sharma spoke at length about the book. He said, “Nongsamei Puya is one of the most important texts which narrate the events that led to the settlement of the Muslims in Manipur. Pangal Thorakpa (edited by R.K. Sanahal in 1985) is another text which also deals with the Muslims. However, it has almost similar narratives with that of Nongsamei Puya. In these texts the account of the invasion of the combined Cachari and Muslim forces in 1606 in Manipur is recorded extensively. Prince Sanongba, the brother the ruler of Manipur Maharaj Khagemba (1597-1652) brought the Cachari and the Muslim forces to obtain the throne. The Muslim soldiers were engaged by the Dimasha ruler of Cachar from a Nawab of Taraf in Sylhet. The Manipuris defeated the invading forces in a battle. The Cachari forces fled leaving behind the Muslims. The Manipuri forces overpowered the Muslim troops, numbering around a thousand. They were made captive. These Muslims skilled in various trades were made to settle in the valley of Manipur by offering Meitei women and other provisions.”
“The text also records the social organization of the Muslim community on the basis of clan, the advent of further Muslim families, their economic and technological contributions, administrative and political roles extensively,” he added.
Other speakers at the function praised M.A. Janab Khan for making the valuable text available again by reprinting it.
Nongsamei is believed to have been written in and around 1870-71. However, the text is dedicated to a person named Jagat Singh, also referred to as Dhananjoy of the Leirikyengbam clan, probably of Bengali origin. He was given the title Nongsamei (lion-like man) for his bravery and wits. He is said to have saved the life of Maharaj Khagemba in the battle ensued between the invading joint Cachari-Muslim forces and the Manipuri forces in 1606. The text has account of Muslims from the reign of Maharaj Khagemba down to Maharaj Chingthangkhomba, popularly known as Maharaj Bhagyachandra (1760-98).
In the book, M.A. Janab has added an appendix which includes a list of Muslim clan, a map showing Taraf and Sylhet, name of the places where Manipuri speaking Muslims are found today (Manipuri Muslims are also found settled in parts of Assam, Tripura, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and even in Saudi Arabia), an article written by Riyazuddin Chowdhury, titled “The Contributions of the Manipuri Muslims,” short extracts from other puyas which refer to Muslims, names of Muslim soldiers in the Manipur Levy (1828), list of Muslim soldiers who took part in the Battle of Khongjom, 1891 (fought against the British as a part of the Anglo-Manipuri War), among others.