Freedom Fighter, Rani Gaidinliu at a glance
Dr. Heera Marangmei
1. Gaidinliu was born to Lothonang Pamei and Kachotlenliu of Kammei lineage in 26 January 1915 at the Village of Longkao (Nungkao) in the present Tousem Sub-division in Tamengrong District of Manipur. Her father was the owner of Longkao-Khangchu( male dormitory of Rongmei (Kabui) –custom).
2. She joined freedom struggle with Jadonang in her first teenage of 13 on her visit to Puilong. She was called lovingly as Dina (Dihna-to pronounce) by Jadonang.
3. At 16 years of age, she was made a leader women wing in the religious activities and to impart the traditional mannerism and discipline.
4. After the execution of Jadonang on 29.08.1931 by the Britishers, she shouldered the responsibilities of the Zeliangrong Movement against the British, for the upliftment of social and customs of Zeliangrong. She was about 17 years of age at that time. She was known for her moral integrity, stubbornness and stiff conviction. She was also known for her courage and even challenged the boys of her age. Above all she was a god fearing girl.
5. The main objectives of the movements were:-
(a) To preserve the ancestral religion of animism, culture and custom.
(b) To save guard the people and their land,
(c) To remove the inter-village hostility among the three kindred sub-tribes of Zeme, Leiangmei,and Rongmei including Puimei (This hostility was later diluted and achieved brotherhood relation during pledging ceremony at Keshamthong Kabui Village in 15 Feb.1947).
(d) To remove the British in Manipur and create free country for her people. Like Jadonang, she was against the imposition of house tax, force labour and unjust law of British to her people.
(e) Like Jadonang, attaining the Nagaraj was her ultimate goal for her people. Because she believed that Nagas were the free people.
6. Gaidinliu was a good composer and singer and had at least 100 religious hymn and patriotic songs on her credit. These songs are sung for various occasions like festivals, marriage function, death rituals etc.
7. Her revolutionary activity was reported by the Assam Government to the British In the early part of 1932 for she and her troops were moving in and around the Naga Hills of Manipur and the North Cachar Hills. Her main concentration was in the Trans-Barak basin.
8. Mr.J.P.Mills, the Deputy Commissioner of Naga Hills conceived the threat of Gaidinliu and ordered the British to arrest her. She went underground with a group of her trusted followers.
9. Gaidinliu and her trained followers attacked the convoy of Assam Rifles in North Cachar Hills in February 1932.They attacked Assam Rifles outpost in March 1932 at Hangrum Village in the North Cachar Hills with daos and spears only, in reiteration the British burnt down the Hangrum and Bopungwemi villages in Naga Hills.
10. Mr. Harvey, the president of Manipur Durbar, had announced a reward of Rs.500/- for information leading to her arrest.
11. Captain Mac Donald, British Officer with 100 Assam Rifle personals attacked Gaidinliu’s strong hole in early morning and arrested her from Puiluwa (Pulomi) village in Nagaland in 17 October 1932.
12. Mr. J. P. Mills deported her to Imphal for criminal trial after two months in Kohima jail.
13. Mr. J. C. Haggin,the British Political agent of Manipur, convicted for life imprisonment to Gaidinliu on charges of murder and waging war against the British crown in 1933.
14. Gaidinliu spent her youthful life in different jails of British in India for 14 years.
(a) 1 year in Gauhati jail in 1933.
(b) 6 years in Shillong jail from 1934 to 1939.
(c) 3 years in Aizawl jail from 1940 to 1942.
(d) 4 years in Tura jail from 1943 to 1947.
15. Jawaharlal Nehru, the President of Indian National Congress, came to know about Jadonang and Gaidinliu’s Movement against the British during his tour to Assam in 1937 and he heard about Jadonang execution and Gaidinliu life imprisonment.
16. Out of strong inquisitiveness, Nehru went to Shillong and met village girl, Gaidinliu, in the dark cell. He was emotionally moved and praised her might for fighting against the British colonialism. He promised to pursue for her release.
17. Back in Delhi, Nehru’s statement in regard to his visit to Assam and Shillong was published in the Hindustan Times on 18.December 1937 in which he described Gaidinliu as the daughter of the Hills and conferred her with the epithet “Rani Gaidinliu. He honoured her same distinction with Joan-de Arc of France and Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi. Nehru persuaded Lady Nancy Aston, Member of Parliament in London for the release of Gaidinliu which was rejected by the British Government in India.
18. Jawaharlal Nehru lamenting on Young Gaidinliu in prison, revealed her story in the Hindustan Times, December 18, 1937 in his article “Child of the Hills now in a Prison cell”. He wrote, “She dreamed freedom of her people… and raised the banner of Independence. But the Empire still functioned effectively and took vengeance on her and her people. Many villages were burnt and destroyed and their heroic girl was captured and sentenced to deportation for life. And now she lies in some prison in Assam, wasting her bright young womanhood in dark cells and solitude. Six years she has been there. What torment and suppression of spirit they have brought to her, who in the pride of her youth, dared to challenge an empire! . …. …. This wild young thing sits, cabined in desolation and confinement. And India does not even know of this brave child of her hills, with pride her, and bring her out of her prison cell.” Later on she became known all over the country as a champion of the Independence cause.
19. Jawaharlal Nehru became the first Prime Minister when India attained Freedom from British rule in India in 15 August 1947. He ordered the Assam Government to release Rani Gaidinliu. She was released from Tura Jail on 14 October 1947 with many restrictions on her free movements and banned her from returning to her native village and she stayed in the house of her younger brother, Chararang (Marang) at Vimrap village in Makokchung, Nagaland. It was a tearful reunion of sister and brother for they could not communicate their mother tongue.
20. In 1952, she was allowed to visit her people in Imphal and native village Longkao. In her first maiden visit to Imphal, Kakhulong Girls’ Union offered a reception function to Rani Gaidinliu on 15.5.1952 in the house of Ningthoubui Gangmei of Kakhulong Khulakpu.The Girls’ Union actively participated in demanding in setting up of Adimjati Seva Sangh. The Girls Union approached Smt. Rani Gaidinliu for the materialization of Adimjati Seva Sangha and she had strongly recommended to the Union Minister of Tribal welfare in Delhi. Subsequently Union Minister approved the establishment of Adimjati Seva Sangh, now it is known as Adimjati School.
21. In 1953, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru visited Imphal where Rani Gaidinliu met him and conveyed her gratitude to him and goodwill of her people. She developed more acquaintance with Nehru. Rani Gaidinliu also visited Delhi and met Shri Nehru and apprised about the needful development of Zeliangrong areas and for the welfare of the people.
22. On her come back in the native village Lungkao, Rani Gaidinliu worked for the revival of traditional religion of animism or Heraka, customary laws and for integration of Zeliangrong communities under single administrative unit. The propagation of Heraka religion was not welcomed by her people, who were converted into Christians. The Naga National Council (NNC) leaders criticized her activities as a stumbling block to the Naga struggle. The NNC group posed frequent threats to the life and movements of Rani Gaidinliu. She could not tolerate the threat and she went underground once again in 1960 with 1000 of her followers and soldiers – called “Kampai”. Many of her soldiers were killed by the NNC’s soldiers at Mandu village near Tousem in a long encounter, which let her to hide at Magulong cave near Barak (Agu) Bank for 3 years.
23. Rani Gaidinliu had said, “Invasion by foreign religion and foreign culture will pose danger to Naga Identity. Beware of this danger”.
24. In 1964, the Zeliangrong leaders led by Rani Gaidinliu’s, resolved to demand a separate Zeliangrong Administrative Unit or political Unit” within the Union of India. The files in Union Home Ministry in Delhi moved in favour of integration of whole Zeliangrong areas with Nagaland.
25. India Government came to know the insecurity and danger of Rani Gaidinliu’s life that she was fighting against the Naga underground leaders in 1966. After constant persuasion, Gaidinlui laid down arms and ammunition before Subodh Chandra Dev, D.C. of Kohima on behalf of Nagaland with the collaboration of India Government. On 5th January 1966, she came out from the jungle hide out for betterment of Zeliangrong people through democratic and non-violent means.
26. Rani Gaidinliu could not tolerate the disintegration and scattered in different areas of Zeliangrong people. She apprised Smt. Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi in New Delhi on 22 February 1966 when Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister of India in 24 January 1966 and demanded a separate Administrative Unit. Smt. Indira Gandhi showed respect love and respect to Rani Gaidinliu like her father Jawaharlal Nehru and assured to Rani Gaidinliu to examine and give serious thought on her political demand for separate Zeliangrong Administrative Unit and for recognition of Zeliangrong Tribes living in the three states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
27. In her own words to the Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Gandhi, she said, “As a woman you can imagine that a girl of 16 years of age has her own proud youthful dreams-wild, perhaps, ecstatic. Like any other ordinary girl, I had my own cheerful dream of raising a happy family but the choice left to me was either to live on normal peaceful life like any other girl, or to sacrifice every thing in the world by taking up the leadership for the liberation of my people from the atrocities of the alien rulers, in order to set off claims of their atrocities. I chose the later for betterment and salvation of my people”. What a sacrifice!
28. Smt. Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India recognized and acknowledged the social and political works of Rani Gaidinliu. The Government of India conferred the Freedom Fighter Tamra Patra Award to her in 1972.
29. She tirelessly pursued Smt Indira Gandhi for the materialization of separate Zeliangrong Administrative Unit on her visit to Delhi in the 1st February 1973. Again she met Morarji Desai, when he was the Prime Minister of India, and placed the same demand in the 3rd September 1977.
30. In 1980 the Zeliangrong People’s Convention (ZPC) was formed at Tamenglong, Manipur. Rani Gaidinliu was elected unanimously as the President of the Organization with main objective to demand a separate state for Zeliangrong people form the Government of India.
32. In 1982 Rani Gaidinliu along with ZPC delegation went to Delhi and submitted a memorandum to Smt. Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister. The memorandum contained a map indicating the areas of Zeliangrong people, who live for time immemorial in North Cachar Hills of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland and urging for the integration of Zeme, Liangmei and Rongmei. On study of ethnicity and Culture of Zeliangrong community, the Anthropological Survey of India opined the validity and rightful demand of ZPC and report was submitted to Prime Minister Office.
32. Most part of her life was spent in Kohima.
33. In recognition of her patronage and selfless services to the society and to the nation, Rani Gaidinliu was conferred a number of awards by various institutions and Government of India.
(i) The Freedom Fighter Tamra Patra Award in 1972 by Prime Minister, Smt.Indira Gandhi.
(ii) The Padma Bhusan in 1982 by the President of India, Sanjeeva Reddy.
(iii) The Vivekananda Sewa Summan in 1983 by the Bada Bazar Kumarsabha Pustakalaya, Kolkata.
(iv) The Birsa Munda Award in 1996 (Posthumously).
(v) The Government of India released a one Rupee Postage stamp of Rani Gaidinliu under theme of great personality.
(vi) The NDA Government in the Centre instituted an award called Stree Shakti Puruskar in honour of five eminent women in the Indian history, viz.Devi Ahillya Bai Holkar, Rani Lakhsmi Bai, Mata Jijabai, Rani Gaidinliu and Kannagi. The award of Rupees one lakh and a citation is given every year on 8th of March to veteran women social workers in recognition of their sacrifices for the society (2000).
(vii) Paying tribute to renowned freedom fighter of Manipur, the Indian Coast Guard launched its fourth in-shore patrol vessel (IPV) christened ‘Rani Gaidinliu’at Vishakapatnam Shipyard on 6th November 2010. IPV-Rani Gaidinliu cost Rs.60.00 crores.
34. Passing years made her old and weak, Rani Gaidinliu, the determined lady, wanted to spend her worldly life in her Native village at Lungako (Nungkao) with her relatives and friends. Sometimes in 1992 she went to visit Bhuban Cave via her native place. On the way she was fallen sick in her village before she could visit Bhuban cave. Her stay in the village was unknown by many as there was no electricity, no telephone, no TV, no supply of drinking water, no medical care. Her village road was not linked with motorable road. Whenever, she returned home she had to be lifted in a palanquin by her village folks since vehicle could not reach there. In fact, she did not have a house of her own. She breathed her last on 17th February 1994. Her death was mourned by the whole nation including Shri Narasimha Rao, the Prime Minister of India. Shri Chitamani Panigrahi, the then Governor of Manipur, personally visited Nungkao to attend the last rites of Rani Gaidinliu. Nagaland Government deputed high officials to attend the funeral function. Many public leaders, village headmen, thousand of her associates and admirers paid the last respect and tribute on the funeral day. Gaidinliu was buried at the courtyard of her house as per traditional and customary rites of Zeliangrong. The Nation remembers her as the woman Freedom Fighter of the country from North East India.
35. Stree Shakti Puruskar given every year to eminent women for their dedication to the cause women and struggles in their own lives to bring about a more gender equitable society. One of the name of the award is Rani Gaidinliu Zeliang,which give a wrong signal and intuition to the Kabui ( Rongmei) in particular and create confusion to other people in general. In fact Rani Gaidinliu was born to Pamei clan of Rongmei (Kabui) Tribe. To remove the confusion, the Title of the Award shall be called Rani Gaidinliu, not to add the word Zeliang as suffix. Civil Societies or the admirers of Haipei Rani Gaidinliu shall take up the concerned authority for ratification and Title of the Award shall be called as Rani Gaidinliu. She was born in Nungkao and buried in Nungkao. She was born with Rongmei blood and died as Rongmei. Her movements do not mean for the two cognate names of Zeme and Liangmei alone, she dedicated her life for entire nation. Jawaharlal Nehru rightly conferred her with epithet “Rani Gaidinliu” for the Nation to know. Let it remain “Rani Gaidinliu” in the citation, not as Rani Gaidinliu Zeliang.
36. Every Celebration of Birth anniversary of Haipei Rani Gaidinliu be the reaffirmation and commitment for peaceful coexistence and believe in single race of humanity among the people of Manipur, giving exemplary to the world.