On 17th May, 2009, the Lt. Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lt. General (Retd) Bhopinder Singh, PVSM (Param Vishisht Seva Medal) and AVSM (Ati Vishisht Seva Medal), led the Islanders in paying rich tributes to all those Great Andama nese tribals killed during the historic Battle of Aberdeen fought on 17th May, 1859 against the British intruders at Aberdeen, Port Blair.
The historical sketch of the Battle of Aberdeen, Port Blair
At a simple function held at the Battle of Aberdeen Memorial, Water Sports Complex, Port Blair, on the morning of 17th May, 2009, the Lt. Governor laid a wreath at the memorial followed by paying of floral tributes by the Chief Secretary, Shri Vivek Rae, senior officers of the A & N Administration, public representatives, prominent Islanders, senior citizens and school students. A two minutes silence was also observed to mark the occasion.
This, my dear friends, reminds me of a mighty thought-provoking and highly acclaimed article that my erudite father, Mr. Purushottam Lal Vashishtha, Assistant Secretary (Retd), Official Language (Hindi), A & N Administration had authored, which was published by the illustrious author and editor, Dr. Dharmaveer Bharati in his fortnightly Hindi magazine, “Dharmayug” about 24 years ago from now, about the historic Battle of Aberdeen.
And he fervently repeated the quintessence of the article while conversing with me yesterday telephonically, saying that it was the “Great Battle of Aberdeen” fought by the gallant members of the Great Andamanese tribe at Port Blair that ought to be recognized as a sequel of the very First War of Independence that broke out in the year 1857 under the leadership of Rani of Jhansi, Tantya Topei, Bahadur Shah Zafar and last but not the least, Mangal Pandey.
Incidentally, I’m also reminded of an enchanting experience a couple of months ago when I happen to run into Leechu, one of the handfuls of now civilized members of the Great Andamanese tribe from Long Island, Middle Andaman. I ran into her at the hair salon, where she had accompanied her son for a hair-cut, as well.
Leechu with her son at the Water Sports Complex, Port Blair
Although she’s 56 years old now, she hardly looks older than 36 years. When I asked her casually about the present condition of her tribe, she had a long tale of sufferings to talk about with me about her kith and kin at Long Island. Most of them are suffering from TB, high blood pressure and asthma etc. the enormously publicized and bountifully funded govt. endeavors notwithstanding. Every now and then, she has to take somebody or the other from her clan over to Chennai for better and adequate treatment as the local G. B. Pant Hospital at Port Blair, although the largest and, in fact, very well-equipped in the entire Island territory of Andaman & Nicobar is often considered unpredictable due to their overall performance over the past 2 and a half decades or so.
Well, my dear friends, the generations of the naturally valiant freedom fighters from the Great Andamanese tribe of the sequel of the First War of Independence i.e. the Battle of Aberdeen, are soon to be lost in oblivion, if the indifference and inaction of the so-called civilized world is not eradicated. At least, four and a half years after the tsunami of 26th December, 2004, the administration is required to do plenty more than simply laying wreaths at the various Memorials once a year...