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U Tirot Sing of the Syiemlieh Clan, the King of Syiem of the Khasi State of Nongkhlaw attacked the British Garrison for its failure to return the territory of Borduar, located in the Assam plains of the Brahmaputra Valley, which was part and parcel of the Hima Nongkhlaw State. It was the day April 4th 1829 which became a vital cornerstone of Khasi History.

In the year 1826, David Scott the Crown-representative, after the expulsion of the Burmese from Assam, had wanted to strengthen British commercial and political interest and influence by constructing road, linking the Burma and Brahmaputra Valleys from Bholaganj to Rani, near Guwahati, which had to pass through Hima Nongkhlaw and other Khasi States along the way.

David Scott had approached Syiem U Tirot Sing for a grant of permission for the road construction. A date was therefore fixed on November 3 in 1826. David Scott attended the Dorbar along with A.White, who gave an eyewitness account of the proceedings recorded in the ‘Memoir of David Scott’

The attendants came up the hills, armed with swords, bow and quivers. The Rajah proceeded to explain the object of meeting and requested the different orators to express their sentiments on the proposition of the British Government. The Asserting Territorial Rights of RI Hynniewtrep leading orator on the part of the opposition i m m e d i a t e l y commenced a long harangue in condemnation of the measures expressed in a continuous flow of language accompanied with much animation of manner and a p p r o p r i a t e gesticulation. This was replied by the Raja’s party and in this way, the ball was kept rolling until evening. I was struck with astonishment at the order and decorum which characterized these debates. No shout of exultation or indecent attempts to put down the orator of the opposite party was made. On the contrary, every speaker was fairly heard out. I have often witnessed the debates in St. Stephen’s Chapel which is British Parliament, but those of the Khasi Parliament appeared to me, to be conducted with more dignity of manner.

“As it grew dark, the debate not being closed, Mr Scott rather grew impatient and ordered a dozen of rum to be sent up the hill in the hope of putting an end to  it. The liquor was returned, with a message saying, they would not drink spirit until they have come to the point of issue. The next morning the debate was resumed. It was continued throughout the day and closed at midnight in favour of the proposition of the British Government. What the literal arguments of the orators were, I cannot say”.

“The next day, the resolution of the Assembly was embodied in a treaty which was concluded with the British Government and the Khasis agreeing to aid in the construction of the road which was to pass through the territory- about 500 or 600 members drawn from various place attended”.

It was therefore a crucial agreement, benefitting both parties, that the British re-transfer the territory of Borduar to Hima Nongkhlaw and that permission was given to the British to construct the strategic road. The British however did not keep their part of the bargain, as Borduar was not returned to Hima Nongkhlaw.

Sumar Sing Sawian

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