The Nagas of Manipur were independent of the Manipur Raja before the advent of the British. Even after the British came, they were administered by the political department of the British Crown. The Manipur Raja and his darbar administered only the valley area till 15th August 1947.
After 15th August 1947, when the paramountcy was transferred to the Maharaja of Manipur without the consent of the hill people, the NNL stated the Nagas of Manipur will not remain with the Meiteis since the latter had never conquered the Nagas and declared that it would be impossible for the Nagas to preserve the best of their culture, tradition, customary laws and political practices should the Naga people and their land be split up and placed under different influence and politics.
The NNL expressed their strong desire to merge with the Naga Hills District of Assam through the BOYCOTT of the preparation of electoral rolls in Naga areas. The first General Election under the Manipur State Constitution Act 1947 was held in June 1948. The Nagas in Manipur boycotted the election.
They thereafter launched the “NO TAX CAMPAIGN” when Maharaj Kumar Priyobrata Singh was the Chief Minister of Manipur. The Campaign was spearheaded by Mr. A. Daiho(Mao) and Mr. N. Modoli(Poumai), President and Secretary respectively of the NNL. The Nagas in Manipur refused to pay the annual House Tax to the Government of Manipur and instead submitted their annual house tax to Charles Pawsey, D.C. of Naga hills of Assam at Kohima.
It was an act of defiance against the Authority of the State, under which the Nagas of Manipur had been placed without their consent. It was also a means of putting pressure on the Indian Government for securing the merger of the Nagas in Manipur with the Naga hills District.
27th August 1948 “ MARTYRS’ DAY” :
The Manipur Maharaja, Budh Chandra sent a combined force of Assam Rifles and Manipur Police to arrest Mr. A.Daiho and other leaders. Equipped with machine guns the Assam Rifles took position in and around Mao Inspection Bungalow in war like fashion and indiscriminately fired at the volunteers/ students of the Mao-Maram Tribal Council (now Mao, Maram, Poumai, Thangal and Upper Zeliang) who were blocking the road leading to the residence of Mr. A. Daiho.
In the firing, the followings were killed/grievously wounded :
Name Village Status
1. Mr. Asiisii Hepuni Punanamei Volunteer(killed on the spot)
2. Mr. Mahriili Lohrii Kalinamei Student (killed on the spot)
3. Mr. Modo Kholi Kalinamei Student (killed on the spot)
4. Mr. Daikho Hesho Chowainamei Khullen Volunteer (succumbed to injuries)
5. Mr. Obow Adani Punanamei Volunteer (succumbed to injuries)
6. Mr. Kaisii Mathibo Punanamei Volunteer(Expired-12thAug, 2013)
7. Mr. Obow Ashiho Punanamei Student(Still alive)
Many other male and female volunteers and students received injuries from bullets, rifle butts, lathis, and boots of the Assam Rifles and Manipur Police on that day.
The indiscriminate firings and use of violent force finally succeeded in dispersing the demonstrators and the two leaders viz. Mr. A. Daiho of Song Song village and Mr. N. Modoli of Tunggam village along with Mr Kaikho Dili of Tadubi and Mr Athikho Sibo of Song Song were finally arrested. The arrested leaders, all the dead bodies and injured persons were herded away to Imphal in the Assam Rifles convoy. After being kept at Imphal Central Jail, Mr A. Daiho and Mr. N. Modoli were shifted to Dum Dum(now Kolkata) Central Jail as political prisoners.
In memory and honour of those who suffered and made the ultimate sacrifice for the integration of all Nagas, sixty-six years ago, the Mao Students’ Union has perpetuated this day in memory by observing it as “The Martyrs’ Day”. As the event is a landmark in the history of political movement of the Nagas in Manipur, the observation is being organized this year by the Mao Council under the aegis of the United Naga Council (UNC).