Burial site of Captain George Gordon lying in ruins

STAFF REPORTER IMPHAL, 29th Nov: The burial site of Captain George, the first political agent of British government in Manipur, which is located inside the campus of Manipur University at Canchipur is lying in ruins with no one to protect or preserve the site.

Posted as political agent in Manipur in 1835, Captain George Gordon died in 1844. His burial site is marked by a stone erected near the campus of Canchipur High School. Unfortunately, toilet of the school is constructed near the site and the memorial stone now remains tilted on one side.

The Bengali script edition of Cheitharol Kumbaba published by N Khelchandra and L Ibunohal also mentions the day Gordon died as 20th day of Poinu in Sakabda 1766. It also mentioned that the memorial stone had a plaque with an inscription that read ‘In memory of Captain George Gordon, the first political agent in Manipur, who died and was buried here in 1845’. However, the plaque is missing today with the stone standing alone just for namesake.

George Gordon was an adjutant in the Gambhir Singh Levy, which defeated the Burmese army to put an end to ‘Seven Years Devastation’. Subsequently, Gordon was appointed as the first political agent of Manipur in 1835.

Wangam Somorjit’s ‘Manipur: The Forgotten Nation of Southeast Asia’ cites reports of Gordon teaching English to the princes of Manipur as published in ‘The Calcutta Christian Observer’. The book mentions that the first school was set up in the Langthabala palace and one Harish Chandra, who studied at India’s Chitpur College, was appointed as the first teacher of the school. Later, Gordon established an English library at Langthabal.

Two sons of King Chandrakirti and regent Nara Singh were the first students of the school, which started functioning from 12 noon of October 26, 1835. The information was mentioned in a letter written by Harish Chandra to Governor General of India on November 3, 1835.

Besides, Gordon took up major initiatives for the development of Manipuri language and also published an Anglo-Manipuri dictionary in roman script in 1837 in Calcutta. After his death, the school was abolished in 1844. An attempt to revive the school by another political agent WE Nuthall in February 1872 could not be succeeded. Later in 1885, James Johnstone established Johnstone School and Christian missionary William Pettigrew established other schools. In 1902, there were 18 schools in the valley areas of Manipur.

Considering his contribution to Manipur, it is imperative for the state government to preserve and protect the memorial site of Captain George Gordon without which, the site will be lost in due course of time.

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