U Daloi Manik Pakynteñ
By H H Mohrmen
U Kiang Nangbah was given a title ‘the rebel Daloi’ by the British, however U Kiang was also elected the Daloi by his followers. After the British annexed the Jañtia kingdom in the year 1835, the dalois of the different elekas who used to represent the king in the hill regions of the kingdom, automatically became the agents of the government. The British realized that there is already an existing system in place to govern the region and kept the office of the daloi for their own interests. Manik Pakyntein who was the Daloi of eleka Jowai then, had to toe the British government line.
In the oral narrative Manik Pakynteñ was also called ‘daloi Tyngker.’ He was perhaps called daloi Tyngker because of his height and body which was without shape. ‘Tyngker’ means tall with an oversized body. U Manik Pakynteñ was one of the very popular names in the oral story about the Jañtia rebellion. There are many stories in the oral narrative which has connection with Mamik but the most important story was the allegation that he along with Long Sutnga and Simon Phareng were involved in providing information to the British which led to the arrest of u Kiang Nangbah. It is also true that u Manik collaborated with the British and because the daloi sided with the government, the rebels decided to have their own daloi and u Kiang was their natural choice. The rebel U Kiang can also be called the daloi on the run.
It is not only in the eleka Jowai that the rebels elected their own doloi because most of the dalois were already in league with the government. They did that in other elekas too because most of the dalois sided with the British. In the case of eleka Jowai u Kiang Nangbah was unanimously elected the daloi of the eleka by the rebels.
U Kiang by virtue of him belonging to the Sookpoh Khadar Wyrnai clan, had the right to be elected as the daloi of eleka Jowai but although elected he was seen as the rebel daloi. While Manik was recognized as daloi of eleka Jowai and used by the British, u Kiang was not only recognized as a leader of the rebellion but he was their daloi. U Manik was blamed for imposing taxes on the locals and was responsible for the misunderstanding between the government and the people with regards to the unceremonious halt of the pastieh (dance) at Ïalong and confiscation of the swords and shields used for performing the dance. The situation is such that there were two dalois in the eleka during this particular time. U Manik was the daloi recognized by the government and u Kiang Nangbah was the daloi elected by the rebels and recognized by them as one.
In the oral narrative Manik was also blamed to be the co-conspirator along with U Long Sutnga who provided the British with the information about u Kiang Nangbah’s hideout. However, the British correspondence cleared the name of u daloi Manik Pakynteñ especially with regards to the source of information which led to the arrest of u Kiang Nangbah. Neither Dunsford nor Walcott named Manik Pakynteñ as the informer or co-conspirator with u Long Sutnga to provide the much needed information about u Kiang’s health condition and his place of hiding where he was being treated for ill health. The correspondence has instead named the daloi Nartiang as u Long Sutnga’s co-conspirator to provide the information which led to u Kiang being apprehended by the British. Oral narratives were not kind to daloi Tyngker.
In the letter No. 43 dated December 31, Dunsford said that U Kiang Nangbah when questioned as to the cause for his rebellion, took a sacred oath and attributed it to the Income Tax levied by the British as one of the reasons for the rebellion. He also said the interference of the British with their religious rites was the last straw that sparked the battle. Morton also said that U Kiang had stated that Manik Pakynteñ the duly recognized daloi of Jowai elaka said that he was directed by the Government to announce that they should no longer perform their religious ceremonies or burn their dead as they used too. U Manik also recommended that they do not pay any taxes and this compelled them to take the extreme recourse to fight against the government from the jungle. Sadly, u Manik daloi immediately forsook the cause he had championed and returned to the government to retain his position as the daloi of eleka Jowai.
In his statement to the Commission, U Kiang Nongbah cleared Daloi Manik Pakynteñ of all allegations that he had betrayed the former. But oral narratives allege that u daloi Tyngker with Simon Phareng were part of the conspiracy with Long Sutnga to betray Kiang Nangbah. In fact the information about u Kiang’s hideout was shared to Sadlier by Long Sutnga at Nartiang and it was also the place where the conspiracy to capture him was hatched. U Manik was in Jowai and had nothing to do with it, but he had from the very beginning betrayed the rebellion by choosing to side with the British government. Simon Phareng who was alleged to be one of the betrayers of u Kiang could not be traced.
At the end of the day u Manik Pakynteñ was just being what he was supposed to be, the agent of the British government. After the kingdom was annexed to the empire, the king was given a pension but the government still needed the services of the daloi to govern over the highlanders of the Jañtia kingdom. The daloi then became a useful link between the British government and the common people, apart from carrying on with tradition.
(This is another article in a series related to the Jañtia rebellion to mark the 160th anniversary of the execution of u Kiang Nangbah the leader of the rebellion on December 30, 2022)