Pa Togan Nengminza Sangma: The Brave Achik Warrior (Matgrik)
Pa Togan Nengminza Sangma was a brave A·chik warrior (Matgrik). He was born in the village of Samanda near Williamnagar, East Garo Hills, Meghalaya. During the British rule of India, the British imperial authorities nicknamed Northeastern India as the "Scotland of the East". In 1835, the British had annexed the Jaintia kingdom.
Pa Togan Nengminza Sangma was a brave A·chik warrior (Matgrik). He was born in the village of Samanda near Williamnagar, East Garo Hills, Meghalaya. During the British rule of India, the British imperial authorities nicknamed Northeastern India as the “Scotland of the East”. In 1835, the British had annexed the Jaintia kingdom. The Khasis had been subjugated a little earlier. The uprising by Jaintias led by U Kiang Nangbah was put down with a heavy hand. Now it was the time for the British to establish their hegemony in the Garo Hills.
That time, Capt. Dally was first among the three groups who entered into the Garo Hills and set up camp in a village named “Matcha Rongkrek” which is situated near Chisobibra village, located on the banks of the Simsang River. The area is around 15km from Williamnagar, the headquarters of East Garo Hills district. They were equipped with guns and mortars with them. On the Other hand, the garos have nothing than selu (spears), Milam (swords), and Spi (shields). They confronted the troops at Rongrenggiri. An unequal battle the brave garos fought valiantly, under the leadership of a young man Pa Togan Nengminza Sangma.
Pa Togan Nengminza and other Garo warriors Pa Gilsang Dalbot Sangma, Pa Gual Nengminza Sangma were attacked the British soldiers while they were sleeping. Roused from sleep by the cries of their comrades, the remaining British soldiers retaliated. It was a one-sided affair as the Garo warriors were ill-equipped. Who fought the British to the last drop of his blood. Needless to say, they suffered heavy losses and Pa Togan Nengminza died on the spot, succumbing to a barrage of bullets. It should be noted that Togan came up with the idea to use huge panels of plantain stems, to stop bullets, as he believed that the metal is cold, as soon as he hit the shield. Although he was an ill-conceived plan, he gives evidence of the acute cleverness of the Garo leader.
Pa Togan Nengminza refused to bow down to the British forces who wanted to occupy the Garo Hills region. He organized his fellow warriors from the hills and plains. Despite having traditional weapons such as swords (Milam), Spears, Spi a battle was fought at Chisobibra. The British were equipped with more forces and armaments including rifles were able to defeat the last Garo with the death of Pa Togan on December 12th, 1872. This brave warrior is remembered by the people of Garo Hills as well as the government of Meghalaya on the 12th of December every year. Till now, the Meghalaya Government is also celebrating 12th December as “Togan Nengminza’s Day”
Pa Togan Sangma is also immortalized at the martyr’s column in Shillong, where his name is enshrined along with U Tirot Sing and U Kiang Nongbah, the gallant heroes of the Khasis and Jaintias. Read more
Encyclopaedia of North-East India, Volume 4, By Col Ved Prakash