Mizoram guns for cannons in assembly

Source: TOI
AIZAWL: The Mizoram assembly on Thursday unanimously adopted a special motion seeking two cannons, which were displayed in Aizawl for 105 years and then taken away by the first battalion of the Assam Rifles, to their rightful owners - the Mizos.

Moving the motion, Zoram Nationalist Party ( ZNP) legislator Lalduhoma said according to "The Making of Aijal," a book written by Lt-Colonel J Shakespeare, the first superintendent of the Lushai Hills (now Mizoram), the two cannons were thrown into the river in Chittagong (now in Bangladesh) by the 34th Native Infantry of the British in 1857 fearing that they might fall into the hands of mutineers during the Sepoy Mutiny. Later, they were retrieved and brought to Rangamati (now in Bangladesh) and then to Lunglei in South Mizoram in 1892 and again to Aizawl (then Aijal) to be displayed near the statue of the Queen Victoria erected in front of the Quarter Guard of the North Lushai Hills Military police battalion by Lt-Col GH Loch, the then commandant of the battalion.

The book also says the two cannons were used in the historic Battle of Waterloo when Napoleon was defeated by the British army in 1815 and has immense historical importance.

"Since the Lushai Hills Military Police was rechristened as the first battalion of the Assam Rifles in 1917, the two cannons remained at the same place till 2003, the year when Assam Rifles shifted base," said Lalduhoma. He added that the first battalion of the paramilitary force took the two guns to their new place of posting and were now keeping them in Nagaland.

He said the paramilitary force feels that the two cannons are war trophies and would be displayed at the Assam Rifles Museum in Kolkata. "The two cannons were brought to Aizawl by a civil administrator (Shakespeare) and the Assam Rifles has no right to ownership just because they were displayed inside their headquarters," added Lalduhoma.

He urged the state government to make concerted efforts to restore the two cannons and bring them back to Aizawl.

Cutting across party lines, all members who spoke during the discussion on the motion, said the two cannons belonged to the people of Mizoram and should be restored to their rightful owners. Chief minister Lal Thanhawla said he has already written to the Union home minister and the director of the Assam Rifles to instruct the authorities of the first battalion of the paramilitary force to return the guns.

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