Port Blair, May 17 (UNI) Voices of dissent of historians and other eminent people surfaced questioning the commemoration by the Administration of Andaman and Nicobar of the role of the Great Andamanese tribe in the Battle of Aberdeen, fought on May 17, 1859.
''First it should be made clear, on 17 May, we pay homage to whom?'' Madan Mohan Singh, the secretary of Swadhinta Sangram Senani Vansaj Samiti and an Historian questioned.
''For Great Andamanese, Britishers, convicts and freedom fighters living in Cellular Jail, were all outsiders and they wanted to kill all of them. Had their attack on May 17, 1859 been successful all the freedom fighters serving sentence in Andaman would have lost their lives,'' Mr Singh told UNI here.
Mr Singh said that in the battle many freedom fighters were killed as they were made to fight with Great Andamanese by British forces.
However, the Administration defers.
''There is no record that any convict was killed during the Battle of Aberdeen. Only tribal people were killed that too not in large number. History will be always controversial,'' said Rashida Iqbal, Curator of Cellular Jail of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and author of many books on Andaman.
On May 17, 1859, the tribal armies faced the pre-alerted British at Aberdeen. The tribal bows and arrows were hardly a match for the fire power of the forewarned British garrisons. The Andamanese were slaughtered in thousands and their attack repulsed.
The battle of Aberdeen resulted into the consolidation of a colonial power in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago and the premature march to the extinction of the Andamanese.
Though every year there is a function to pay tribute to the heroes of Battle of Aberdeen many feel that there should be a debate on it.