Imphal, April 27 (IANS) On a day when Manipur paid homage to its soldiers who laid down their lives defending the then princely state against the British in 1891, the BJP on Wednesday said plaques bearing the names of presidents V.V. Giri and Pranab Mukherjee were missing from the Khongjom War Memorial complex.
It was on April 27, 1891, that the British Union Jack was hoisted at the Kangla Palace after the trampling of the flag of Manipur princely state which had been fluttering since 33 A.D.
NGOs organised functions to mark the day, and experts spoke about the invasion and Manipur’s defeat 125 years ago.
Moirangthem Hemanta, president of the Khongjom War Memorial Trust who is also the BJP spokesperson, on Wednesday said plaques bearing the names of Giri and Mukherjee were missing from the war memorial complex at the Kheba hillock in Thoubal district.
President Mukherjee on April 23 inaugurated the Khongjom War Monument at the place where Manipur’s soldiers fought the last battle of the kingdom’s independence against the British army in 1891.
“Within hours of the inauguration of the war monument by Pranab Mukherjee on April 23, the plaque slipped down the wooden frame and it is now missing,” the BJP leader said.
He said that on October 21, 1972, then president Giri had inaugurated the memorial at the Kheba hillock.
“However, that plaque also is missing. It is an insult to the two presidents, and the Trust shall lodge an FIR,” he said.
In view of the historical importance and sentiments of the people of Manipur, the union government had sanctioned Rs.28.93 crore in 2013 for construction of the monument.
Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh earlier said that since the monument was located along the Trans-Asian Highway (linking India-Myanmar-Thailand), tourists from other countries will be attracted to it and will thus help boost the state’s economy.
BJP leader Hemanta further alleged that the Manipur government “did not float tenders for the construction and other works but awarded the work to some contractors who have high connections. The sub-standard construction is there for everybody to see”.
“Tiles have started peeling off although these were installed only a few days before April 23. Besides, the stones near the water body have become loose as there was inadequate cementing,” he said.
The chief minister is understood to have ordered an urgent inquiry.