Thursday, 14 December 2017

Rani Gaidinliu, a daring Nagaland woman who revolted against the British Colonists

 In the early centuries, the Indian subcontinent had conservative societies across the land cutting across religion, caste and regions. Progress of the communities was retarded because of various restrictions in the society, in particular, for women. Consequently, the social cauldron became stagnant, ridden with superstition and social evils, especially, in the case of women, the less said, the better. There arose a necessity for conscientious people in the society to bring the women out of darkness and face challenges in the society. The responsibility fell on the well-informed and enlightened reformers in our society to take the task of instilling confidence in Indian women and uplifting their status in our society. Women rights activists like Pandita Ramabai Ranade, Kadambini Ganguly (the first woman graduate) and others chose the political platform to address the grievance of Indian women. Women leaders in the Indian national Congress (INC) emphasized the need for the women to take part in the freedom struggle along with men and get involved in national movements. This opened up a new age for Indian women to raise their voice against the British, thus establishing their role in matters of national importance. Countless Indian women courageously revolted against the British. Theirs is a story of courage, commitment  and sacrifice for country's freedom. If we are enjoying fresh air and freedom in the cool shadow of democracy and if India is what is today, it is because of brave men and women who put their personal lives behind their patriotic duties.     

Rani_Gaidinliu, nagaland. YouTube

Gaidinliu (1915–1993) was a Naga  woman spiritual and political leader who in 1927, at the age of 13, joined the Heraka religious movement of her cousin Haipou Jadonang. Born on 26 January 1915 at Nungkao Tamenglong District, Manipur Gaidinliu  was the fifth of eight children, her parents were  Lothonang Pamei and Kachaklenliu. She was from the Rongmei tribe (also known as Kabui).  The family belonged to the ruling clan of the village. The Heraka religious movement assumed political dimension and Ms. Gaidinliu, with no formal education (there were no schools in her village) emerged as a great leader and   revolted  against British rule in India along with other members.  Nagas wanted self-rule to safeguard their tribal belief and culture. Wherever the British ruled, they earned the ire of the docile, quiet native people by indulging in exploitation of land and labor, depredation, racial intimidation, etc. What at stake was Indian natives' dignity and their pride.  The availability of guns was a blessings for the Nagas  and  Ms. Gaidinliu and other leaders  turned into an armed rebellion against the British policies of forced labour and ruthless oppression.The  tribal people of Naga saw the erosion of their culture and land and their political movement was serious about driving  out the British from Manipur and the surrounding Naga areas.

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After Jadonang was arrested and hanged by the British in 1931, Gaidinliu  became his spiritual and political heir. She and other countless rebels  engaged the Assam Rifles in armed conflicts in the North Cachar Hills (16 February 1932) and the Hangrum village (18 March 1932). The British launched a massive manhunt for her and she hoodwinked them by moving across various villages , some of which now come under Assam. In a surprise move at Pulome village Captain MacDonald launched a surprise attack  on 17 October 1932. Gaidinliu, along with her followers was arrested near Kenoma village. by the British. At Imphal, the trial against her and others went for about a month. At last, Ms. Gaidinliu, who was just 16 years old,  was convicted on the charges of murder and abutment of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Political Agent's Court. Unfortunately, most of her  associates, who vigorously fought against the British, were either executed or jailed,

Rani_Gaidinliu, nagaland. NewsFlicks
Very much impressed by her courage and patriotism, Jawaharlal Nehru met her at Shillong Jail in 1937, and assured her of her release soon. He was the one who gave her the title "Rani" ("Queen"), and, obviously, she became a popular figure  as Rani  Gaidinliu in the local community.

Unfortunately after a long spell of jail life, Gaidinliu was released from prison after independence in 1947  and,  upon her release, she never kept herself idle. She spent much of her valuable time working for  the welfare and progress of her people. Being a staunch follower  and an  advocate of the ancestral Naga religious practices, she adamantly resisted the conversion of Nagas to Christianity. In this part of NE India, Western missionaries  had been seriously engaged in converting the tribes to Christianity at the cost of destroying their age old tribal culture and tradition. No doubt, these missionaries made a valid contribution in the realm of education, however, their over enthusiasm in religious conversion won them bad rap.  In the early 1950s, Gaidinliu moved over  to her native village of Longkao. Till her health failed, she made valuable contribution to the progress of Naga tribal community and found them a niche in the Indian history of freedom movement. Gaidinliu was honoured as a freedom fighter and was awarded a Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rani_Gaidinliu