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The Great Khai Kam by Dr. Vum Ko Hau

He possessed seven guns at the time of British arrival in the Chin Hills. When the British ordered the surrender of guns he gave in 4 and kept 3 which he used again at the time of Siyin rebellions. The British invited some leading Siyin Chiefs to view the power of their weapons at Kalemyo. They saw it but were not convinced that the heavily booted soldiers would be able to climb the hills and at the same time fight the Siyins who hitherto knew no defeat. According to War Chief Khai Kam the first contingent to attempt to come up the Chin Hills were the British and the Punjabi soldiers. They were attacked at Tan Lai and repulsed to Kalemyo. The second attempt was led by the Gurkhas and met at Phatzang and retreated to Tulsuk No. 2 stockade. One soldier who retreated through the jungle met a tiger which pounced on him and severely mauled him. Some soldiers disturbed king bee hives and were stung. These stories were reported to their headquarters to the effect that the Siyins were not alone but were assisted by tigers and king bees.

The third British onslaught was met at Leisan Mual Red Rocky Gate, the traditional gate from where all foreign enemies were repulsed from time immemorial. It was at this Gate that Jamadar Ghaje Khale, V.C., won his Victoria Cross while fighting against the Japanese troops in 1943. This time the enemy were in much greater numbers beside their more modern weapons, being breach loading ones as against the Siyins, flint lock guns. The British succeeded in penetrating the Siyin Chin country for the first time in January 1889. The Siyins led by the Siyin Chiefs rebelled against the British starting at Lunmun, Thuklai in 1892.

The most outstanding Siyin rebel leader was Chief Khai Kam; when his rebel colleagues gave in he took to hiding until 1894. Although all Siyin Chiefs agreed to rebel, the penalty was imposed only on the prominent war Chiefs and as a result Chief Khai Kam was transported for life to the Andamans. When he was led from Thavak to the Kindat jail the locked chains opened by themselves three times but he did not attempt to flee. The guard commander was puzzled about the miraculous happening.

His father, Chief Khup Pau, was sent to prison for four years. His younger brother Mang Pum (later Subedar Mang Pum) was sent for three years together with his father to the Rangoon jail. Subedar Mang Pum appealed to the British government for the release of his brother from the Andamans when the former became Subedar in the Chin Hills battalion. When Chief Khai Kam was released the British used him as advisor during the Haka rebellion in 1917. Siyin war chief Khai Kam returned of the Siyin Valley from the Andamans on the 14th May 1910 and left the world on the 15th September 1919.

In his life time he killed and caught many enemies; he bagged tusker elephants and all other wild animals as he pleased. He was satisfied that he fulfilled a man’s life ambitions.

“The hereditary Chief of this village (Khuasak) is Khai Kam a half brother and cousin to Lien Voom. He was deported for life about 1894 for instigating the Siyin Rebellion and was released last rains. His brother Mang Pome who is a Jemadar in the Military Police was deported at the same time but for a few years only. Mang Pome is a man of influence amongst the Siyin tribe and a loyal servant of Government. He should be consulted on all big questions affecting the tribe.

“Kai Kam (Khai Kam) returned from Andamans a short time ago. I have found him quiet and well behaved. He is not to be an elder or “Wai-Hom-Pa” of the village”.

“Kan Lyen is an intelligent and good man who tries to do his best in regard to carrying out orders etc. He has to deal with men w.ho are very independent and occasionally needs supports and advice”.

H. Rundle 22-11-1912 “From the Chiefs Register”.

Vum Ko Hau

Note: Compiled from the “Profile of a Burma Frontier Man”

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