RANI GAIDINLIU - THE REVOLUTIONARY, THE REVIVALIST AND THE REFORMIST
- Jagdamba Mall
In the whole of Northeast region, though far away from the mainland of the country and inaccessible during olden days, there was a spontaneous revolt in most of the janjati communities of this region against British rule and the leaders of such revolutionary movements were spiritual leaders, religionists, revivalists, and reformists as well. The freedom movement against British suppression and aggression and revival of Sanatan dharma (eternal religion) were two sides of the same coin. Both went parallel. Because wherever Britishers went, they brought Christian missionaries to strengthen their rule and a grip over the victim community. The conversion to Christianity by any means was one of the major agenda of white aggressors. This was the reason the spiritual leaders played a lead role in the freedom movement in this region.
The Spiritual Master of Rani Gaidinliu
The political happenings in Assam in Brahmaputra valley had rendered a great impact on the Naga priests-Jadonang and Gaidinliu. Mahatma Gandhi’s visit to Assam first in August 1921 and second in December 1926, the Congress session, non-cooperation and khadi movement led by Congres and working committee of Indian National Congress in December 1926 at Pandu near Guwahati attended by Mahatma Gandhi which demanded straightway the self-determination for Bharatvarsh, had a tremendous effect on patriotic and nationalist Assamese, Bengali, Kachari, Manipuri, Naga, Khasi and Garo leaders who began to hear and follow the movement of Indian National Congress led by Mahatma Gandhi.
In Naga areas, all the Nagas were followers of Sanatan Hindu dharma (eternal religion) and they called themselves Hindu and Christianity was against Sanatan dharma in all the possible ways because of their different concept, origins, approaches, compositions, and functions. In essence, traditional Sanatan dharma believed in the existence of one omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent supreme God with many other subordinate good and bad gods, goddesses, the sun, moon, earth, mountains and hills, rivers and forest etc. Worships, offers, ceremonies, and rites were made compulsory to them when any good or bad occasion and events had arisen in their traditional Hindu life. The Church banned all these traditional Sanatan (eternal) practices and British rulers patronized Church to march ahead on the path of conversion and de-Indianization crusade. In other words, Christianity and British rule had come into direct conflict with an ancient faith and freedom firmly held. For all these reasons. Haipou Jadonang, popularly known as “Seer of Kambiron” and “Preceptor of Heraka dharm” denounced Christianity as a danger to their Sanatan Hindu Dharm, moral order and Bharatiya national security.
When Zeliangrong Nagas were off the scars of Kuki atrocities, when words and activities of Bharatiya freedom movement were spread rampantly in the Surma and Brahmaputra valleys, when Christianity was progressing ceaselessly destroying traditional Naga Sanatan dharm and when freedom of civil society was put in danger, Haipou Jadonang emerged as a claimed “Messiah” for the Nagas. Right from childhood, he was a religious man. He used to pray God for hours lonely and visited all Hindu religious places like Bhubon cave, Zelak lake etc where gods and goddesses were believed to reside in; Jadonang (1905-1931), was a mystic Naga rebel who was spiritually inspired to organize the religious and social reforms among the Zeliangrong and Pamei Nagas. His concept of Naga Raj brought him to a headlong clash with the British Government. He was also inspired by Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress movement for freedom. He took Gaidinliu to Guwahati in 1926 to meet Mahatma Gandhi when he had visited. He was imprisoned at Tamenglong in December 1928 for prophesizing that the British rule was coming to an end and would be replaced by Naga Raj. He rose into rebellion against British and started the no-tax campaign. He was arrested for the alleged proclamation of the Naga Raj and falsely implicated in a murder case with which he was neither connected nor involved and executed at Imphal on 29th August 1931.
The leadership passed on to Rani Gaidinliu
The martyrdom of Haipou Jadonang was followed by a serious revolt under the charismatic leadership of Gaidinliu, the spiritual successor of “Messiah”. The renewed rebellion was a Zeliangrong protest against British imperialism and a logical sequence of the master’s ideology and strategy. The arrest, trial, and execution of Jadonang stunned his followers with anxiety. The charge of revolt was taken up by his brilliant disciple to put his ideology into practice.
The third daughter of Lothonang of Pamei clan of Lungkao village in Tamenglong district of today’s Manipur, Gaidinliu was born on 26th January 1915. Independent and strong willed, a girl of character and sincerity, deeply religious and ambitious, she came to be associated with Jadonang’s freedom movement. By her spiritual strength, skill in organization and talent for music, Gaidinliu became the natural lieutenant of Jadonang. In the last pilgrimage to the Bhuvan cave in North Kachar Hills (Dima Hasao) near Silchar in January 1931, she was blessed by Lord Tingwang to be the leader of her people and the prophetess of the reformed religion called “Heraka” which was revealed to her and Haipou Jadonang by the Supreme God-Tingwang. Gaidinliu believed that she had divine sanction to the revolt against the British and fight for Independence and advance Heraka religion.
Gaidinliu urged her people not to pay house tax and to refuse porter service to white aggressors. This campaign was a grand success. It became very popular among the people. As a result, she had immensely incurred the wrath of British authority who decided to deploy the army to contain her revolt. Gaidinliu had heard from Jadonang, Kacharis, Bengalis, Nagas and others about Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and other freedom fighters who had been calling the peasants and urban people of the country to refuse to pay taxes to the British aggressors and to defy British laws and the soldiers to stop serving British crown for the freedom of Bharatvarsh. She said. “We Nagas were and are a free people. The white British have no right to rule over us; so we should not recognize their sovereignty over us and will not pay house tax and porter service to British Government; so we shall not obey their Government and unjust laws like forced labour and compulsory porter subscription.”
Gaidinliu then proudly and vigorously recalled the Nagas’ traditional apt prophecy as what Jadonang had done that a day would come when a “Naga government” would be established and foreigners expelled from their land. Incidentally, at this time, non-cooperation and civil disobedience movement led by Mahatma Gandhi was going a full swing to pressurize the British Government to quit Bharatvarsh and leave it free. In her fervent propaganda for independence, she often used the name of Mahatma Gandhi. She told the Nagas that the British would be turned out of the country including Nagaland under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. In this way, Gaidinliu urged the Naga people to fight the British Government following the principles and methods of Mahatma Gandhi in their struggle and to sing the song of Gandhi composed by Jadonang as an ideal and symbol of bravery and inspiration to achieve their goal. Her political and religious movement fast spread in whole of the Zeliangrong areas, other neighbouring Naga and Kukis areas. The people gave every respect, substantial co-operation, every support and fund to carry on the movement and unity of Nagas for the first time taking on a great meaning and stride. People worshiped her as if she was the only Naga Messiah sent by God to save their Heraka religion from destruction and decay due to missionary menace, to lead them to fight to reinstall freedom from the British rule. That is how the movement continued to gain momentum under the leadership of Gaidinliu.
The British Suppression
The British Government perceived a grave threat to their imperialism and colonialism and had determined to take effective, stern measures to bring the movement to an end before it engulfed all Nagas to fight against the British. By the order of the Assam Govt. the military punitive operations against Gaidinliu and her followers were placed directly under the control and supervision of the Deputy Commissioner of the Naga Hills of Assam as the Gaidinliu’s revolt was predominantly being shifted and carried out in the Naga and North Cachar Hills after the execution of Jadonang. She was ultimately declared as a “wanted” woman on a charge of murder and a warrant was served for her arrest and to put her on trial. She was also wrongly implicated as one of the conspirators in the gruesome murder of four Manipuris. Above all, the Government also blasphemed that Gaidinliu was the priestess of a heinous cult worshipping the devils, practising human sacrifices and holding blood feasts. But military operations at this moment were rendered very vigorously.
Meanwhile, to elude the arrest, she had been moving underground from village to village and told her people not to fear the British rulers and their lackeys i.e loyal Nagas (Christians), Kukis and Manipuris.
On 16th February 1932, the sepoys of Assam Rifles encountered with the Naga fighters in Hangrum village in the North Cachar Hills. The whole village was burnt down and some persons were also killed and many others were tortured. While burning the village, their granaries were also destroyed with a view to making them starve to death.
On 20th February 1932, the Govt. of Assam reported to Govt. of Bharatvarsh for action-the resuscitation of the unrest among the Zeliangrong Nagas under the leadership of Gaidnilu after the execution of Jadonang. The report said that after the execution of Haipou Jadonang the woman Gaidinliu reappeared among those people. The arrival of the Dy. Commissioner with a detachment of Assam Rifles at Henima (Tening) led to the fight of the woman and her party but she had already established the belief that the “Messiah-King” was again among them. Every attempt was being made to capture Gaidinliu who had escaped apparently with a large escort into the North Cachar Hills and sepoys of Assam Rifles were pursuing her and her army.
Meanwhile, Gaidinliu’s Heraka movement had clearly spread over a large area of Naga Hills, Manipur and North Cachar Hills. The Government apprehended a grave danger of a serious outbreak. The Government-in-council had, therefore, sanctioned organized operations to round up Gaidinliu and her party and catch her live or dead and put down the living force as quickly as possible before it was spread rapidly far and wide to all Naga areas.
The Assam Government-in-council ordered for organized operations and the Deputy Commissioner of Naga Hills was placed in control of authority to draw on the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Assam Rifles for such men as he might think needful to capture Gaidinliu. The Sub-Divisional Officer of the Manipur Government had also been directed to extend full co-operation and coordination as the Assistants to the Deputy Commissioner-J.P. Mills.
On 16th March 1932 a detachment of the Assam Rifles when came close on her heels they were attacked in broad daylight at Hangrum outpost by a large body of her army. The Assam Rifles suffered a setback. In this encounter, some sepoys and coolies were killed and injured heavily. Seven sepoys of Rani Army were martyred. Suspecting them to be the people of Bopungwemei (Baupungwa) in Naga Hills, this village along with Hungrum was burnt down, people were beaten and tortured and crops, properties, and cattle were indiscriminately destroyed. Even Lungkao village in Manipur was burnt and similar atrocities to that of Bopungwemi village were committed.
Gaidinliu now moved towards Angami area to seek shelter and to ask the people to fight for Naga freedom. By the time, her story of influence had reached the Mao (Shipou) and Maram (Mahar) Nagas in the extreme Northern Manipur. Even Nagas in Naga Hills were getting prepared to join her Heraka freedom movement. And many Hindu Nagas (follower of eternal faith) who had a strong conviction of Sanatan dharma (eternal faith) drank “Gaidinliu water” to get themselves pure, healed and blessed of God. Gaidiliu was worshiped like Goddess. It was believed that by obeying her orders and doing ceremonies in her honour, sickness would be banished and herbs and crops would flourish.
A sizeable detachment of British troops was sent out to suspected villages in Manipur, Naga Hills, and North Cachar- Mikir Hills of Assam, a number of outposts were established and patrols were sent out ceaselessly, searches for Gaidinliu were well-instituted, her photos were widely distributed. And the girls of her age and resemblance were worse affected in the hunt of Gaidinliu. Many changed their names. Even Gaidinliu herself had changed her name as “Dilenliu” in disguise in order to escape arrest. The President of Manipur State Darbar, Harvey had declared on the attractive reward of Rs. 200 for the vital information leading to the arrest of Gaidinliu; further any village furnishing such reliable information about her was promised a complete remission of ten years’ house taxes. After few months the amount of reward of Rs. 200 was increased to Rs. 500.
Still, Gaidinliu eluded capture moving from village to village. British applied all sorts of possible means to arrest her but in vain. Once she was coaxed with a marriage proposal by a handsome man deputed by the Political Agent of Manipur to arrest her. She was told that if she accepted the royal proposal she would be forgiven of all the charges framed against her by the Government. She turned down the proposal with great scorn, hoodwinked him as a traitor and escaped from Lungkao with her trusted lieutenants.
She shifted her temporary headquarters to North Kachar Hills and Kachar plains. People regarded her as a supernatural being and could elude her captors through her magical power appearing in several places at the same time. The troops were baffled as she was rumoured always to be in dozen places at one time.
But British authorities were pursuing her very vigorously day and night; serious punishment was meted out by the Government to any of her real or suspected supporters. Combing operations were being carried out simultaneously on several suspected villages providing shelter to her or extending support for the Heraka Movement and they had been burnt down, Licensed guns were seized because of which 29 guns were captured. Collective fines on stronghold villages of the movement amounting to Rs. 2920 were imposed. Despite all these oppressive measures of the Government the people with determination went on supporting the movement that was very dear to them.
Still, Gaidinliu was moving constantly underground through jungle and villages under the guidance of her most staunch follower, Masang from Kepelo (Kepeilua) like a divine personality denouncing the White rule, preaching with full vigour and strength the independence and Heraka dharm to whosoever listened and paid honour and respect to her. She did all these without even proper sleep for days and nights together to keep her movement vigorous. She had well-organized her movement by raising her own army similar to that of Government. Masang was the army commander and was entrusted with her security. She kept a number of her faithful as spies and informants at Kohima, Imphal, Haflong and Silchar simultaneously to know the action taken by the Government against her and the movement of troops of Assam Rifles.
At the same time, she established an alliance with Angami, Mao and Maram Nagas in particular and other Nagas in general. Knowing fully well the Khonoma war in 1879-80 for independence and protection of Sanatan Hindu charm, she appealed to Angamis to join her movement or raise similar movements to oust Britishers and protect the Sanatan Hindu Dharm.
With a view to accomplishing her movement by raising and stationing her army, Gaidinlu chose Pulomi (Poilwa) village, 29 miles from Kohima, for her army headquarter which was the most strategic center for Zeliangrong Nagas.
Betrayal of Church
A number of Christian Nagas who had been educated in British and American missionary schools and colleges in Bharatvarsh ceased to support the cause of Jadonang and Gaidinliu fighting for independence and working against the introduction of Christianity rendering hostility against Christian Nagas by violent ways. Instead, some of them co-operated with British Government in suppressing Heraka Movement.
As such some loyal Nagas particularly educated and official ones, dobashis, gaonburahs made themselves easily available or were employed under the imperial colour and Gaidinliu and her followers were soon to be hunted down in the mountainous villages. Among others, Dr. Haralu and his brother Namtehing, Ishejungbe, gaonburah of Pulomi (Poilwa), Lengjang, Thipfourhitsu, Ramjiman and Iranpou- all Christians, were rushed to Zemai, Liangmai and Rongmei villages to find out her whereabouts and her army. Along with them, all forces of the hunt to catch hold of her were hotly working. Facing this grave situation she had been staying in secret in Pulomi village with new imagination and hope.
Dr. Haralu, a physician hailing from Pulomi village of Zemi community extended his full support to British authorities in capturing Gaidinliu and her army. Quite strangely, Dr. Haralu’s younger brother, Jenyi was one of the eight stout followers of Gaidinliu standing by heart and soul till her arrest and thereafter. He used to interpret Gaidinliu sayings and predictions and read script which Jadonang invented.
Pulomi was strongly fortified with wooden fortress mostly under orders of Gaidinliu and heavily guarded for the protection and defence and no one was allowed to come in and go out without permission. When completed, the fortress was initially proposed to accommodate thousands of Naga freedom fighters to carry out their activities.
Unfortunately, before completion of the fortress for housing over four thousand armed jawans of Gaidinliu, the operations of British Government took place. Ishejingbe-a Christian convert, one of the Naga British spies, had cleverly penetrated into Pulomi. He dodged himself to be a follower of Gaidinliu. After collecting all the classified information’s of Gaidinliu’s future plans, he escaped pusillanimously and secretly in the dark night from Pulomi village to his village. However, he got sick on the way and could not come to Kohima to pass on the collected information. After having recovered from the illness he swiftly proceeded to Kohima expecting handsome rewards and favour from Government and met Dr. Haralu on 15th October 1932. Immediately, Dr. Haralu took Ishejingbe to Hari Blah, the Extra Assistant Commissioner of Naga Hills in his bungalow at about 10:00 PM and informed him about the whereabouts of Gaidinliu and her faithful adherents. Hari Blah immediately communicated with the commandant of 3rd Assam Rifles, Capt. Macdonald and planned the means and strategy for arresting her and destroying the movement with all British power.
At the same time, among the dobashi, Lengjang and Thipfourhitsu, the two Christian converts most loyal to the British authorities and having a thorough knowledge of Zeliangrong villages were also minutely consulted for taking appropriately successful military expedition. Thereafter, the expeditionary party had set into the task. They planned to reach Pulomi in the night. While marching on to Pulomi, the British army and their assistants bluffed the people that they were passing to other destination obviously to keep the people in dark about their military expedition against Gaidinliu.
According to the decision, the commandant of 3rd Assam Rifles, Capt. Macdonald sent a column of 100 Rifles at 10:00 AM on 16th October 1932 to march on to Pulomi in utmost secret and alertness. At the same time, EAC Hari Blah also collected 100 Naga, Kuki, Nepali coolies from Kohima and ordered them to proceed to Khonoma on way to Henima (Tening) at 10:00 am in order to arrest Gaidinliu.
Thus, 100 Rifles, the selected men, and dobashis left for Khonoma at the appointed time while commandant and EAC wired for the express arrival of the Deputy Commissioner from Imphal to get his instructions. The Deputy Commissioner of Naga Hills J.P. Mills who went to Imphal for the discussion of the operations arrived in time and after taking his instructions, they, commandant and EAC, also left for Khonoma. Having reached there before 6:00 pm, they again left Khonoma at 7:00 pm with the riflemen and dobashis leaving their luggage and other articles behind to be sent in the next few days.
The parties reached Dzulke on 17th October 1932 before midnight and took slippery mountain path along a stream through the thick forest to reach to Pulomi. They reached the border of Pulomi at 4:00 am in the morning.
One section of expedition party was detailed to guard the first gate and another section the second gate while the rest had proceeded with caution to surround the village. The path leading to the village was blocked with strong wooden palishades. But Irap and Dobashi and a couple of sepoys sealed the palishades. As a result, two village spies of Gaidinliu posted by the village on the other side of the blockade could not manage to escape and they were captured by the British military. Both of them were tortured inhumanly to extract the information about the hideouts of Gaidinliu and they told that Gaidinliu was living in the house of Hailung.
Dr. Haralu and his companions went swiftly and gathered exact location of Gaidinliu’s stay. Now, commandant of army entered the village cautiously. The villagers very immediately disarmed and arrested. The whole village was surrounded. And she was captured from one house of the village. Instead of regretting his treachery, Dr. Haralu shamelessly proposed to marry her which she refused blatantly. All these happened at 5:00 pm of 18th October 1932. On 19th October 1932, she was brought to Kohima. At last, she was brought in chains to Imphal with her younger brother Marang for criminal trial after having imprisoned for two months in Kohima. The trial was conducted by Political Agent of Manipur, J.C. Higgins at Imphal. As a result of this trial, she was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment at the tender age of barely seventeen on a charge of the abetment of murder. She was kept for eight months in Imphal jail after which she was transferred to Guwahati jail for few months.
Dr. Haralu, the traitor who was a British spy, was rewarded with the Kaiseri Hind and other benefits by the British Government. Gaidinliu charged him as the big traitor to the Naga cause who sacrificed Naga honour to the reigns of British imperialism and colonialism. With the execution of Jadonang and arrest of Gaidinliu, the Church spread its tentacles far and wide in the area.
After the arrest of Gaidinliu at Pulomi (Poilwa), her supporters from Leng village in Manipur and Bopungwemi in Naga Hills retaliated in December 1932 by massacring the wife and children of chowkidar of a PWD bunglow at Lakema and two Kuki men including chowkidar thinking that chowkidar gave the information leading to Gaidinliu’s arrest.
Revival of freedom movement
The message of freedom movement spearheaded by Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu reverberated in every nook and corner of areas inhabited by Zeliangrongs, Angamis and other Naga communities. In fact, the hanging of Haipou Jadonang, life imprisonment of Rani Gaidinliu and betrayal of Church and Christian Nagas, had shaken the Hindu Nagas from inside and the whole of the Hindu Nagas stood up like a rock against British invasion and missionary menace under new leadership. The three lieutenants of Rani Gaidinliu – (i) Dikhiyo, (ii) Ghumiyo and (iii) Masang took a vow to fight against British and Church and protect their freedom, their religion, and culture.
When Rani Gaidinliu was captured, she was kept in Kohima jail for two months and she was shifted to Imphal jail thereafter. She was in Imphal Jail for eight months for trial where she was convicted of life imprisonment on the fake charges of murder and abetment of murder. She was shifted to Guwahati thereafter. In Imphal Jail, the followers of Heraka and Heraka sepoys met her secretly by paying bribes to jail guards. She encouraged her followers and her sepoys never to succumb to the pressure of enemy forces and Church and continue the fight till they succeeded.
Slowly and gradually, her all the commanders were chased and murdered. The Church and Christians helped British against their own people only because Rani sepoys were Hindu and stood for freedom of Bharatvarsh.
The British rulers put her in different jails.
2 months in Kohima jail (19 October to December 1932)
8 months in Imphal jail (1933)
Few months in Guwahati jail (1933)
6 years in Shillong jail (1934-1939)
3 years in Aizawl jail (1940-42)
4 years in Tura jail (1943-47)
She was released on 14.10.1947, two months later from the date our country got freedom. Thus, Gaidinliu was the lone freedom fighter who spent the longest time – 15 years (18.10.1932 to 14.10.1947) in British prisons in the history of Bharatvarsh’s freedom movement.
In 1937, Jawaharlal Nehru became president of Congress party. He undertook a tour in many parts of Assam to acquaint himself with the people and their problems. During the tour in Assam, he learned about Jadonang’s movement for freedom and his execution by British ruler. He also came to know about young girl Gaidinliu and her imprisonment in Shillong jail. She was merely 22 years old spending her life in prison. Later, Nehru personally went to meet Gaidinliu in Shillong jail. On seeing her in the prison, he felt shocked and highly praised her for the brave fight against the mighty British.
In an article carried by The Hindustan Times on December 18, 1937, Nehru wrote, “News of Gandhi and Congress reached her and her hills abode. She dreamed of freedom for her people and she raised the banner of independence and called her people to rally round it. India does not even know of this brave child of her hills.” He further wrote that a day would come when she would be released from her prison cell and free India would remember and cherish here recognizing her heroic deed who dreamed of freedom. Affectionately, Nehru called her “Rani of Nagas” and assured her that he would move the British government to release her from the jail.
As he promised earlier, Nehru tried to secure her release from the prison with the help of Lady Nancy Astor, Member of British Parliament and other British MPs but the request was turned down by Secretary of State for British Bharat because Britishers felt that her movements would break out if she was released. The British termed her as the “Terror of Northeast”. Soon after Bharat became independent in 1947, Nehru personally interfered to secure her release from the prison against the advice of Assam Government. Rani Gaidinliu was released after 15 years on 14.10.1947 – 2 months after the country got independence from Tura Jail (now in Meghalaya). She was caught on 18.10.1932 from Puilwa Village in Nagaland. However, many restrictions were imposed on her free movements. She was neither allowed to visit her area nor to meet her people. She was kept in house arrest in a Chang village – Yimrup in Tuensang district nearly 500 km away from her village – Lungkao in Tamenglang district of Manipur. Her younger brother – Khiusinang accompanied her in this village who married a Chang girl from this village afterward. She was granted a section of soldiers as her security guards, two girls as her attendants, a tinned house and a freedom fighter’s pension of Nagaland and Manipur.
Thereafter, the Government of Bharatvarsh officially recognized Rani Gaidinliu as the legendary freedom fighter of Bharatvarsh. The restrictions imposed on her were lifted later and she was allowed to visit her people in Imphal and her native village Lungkao in 1952.
In Imphal and Tamenglong : In 1952, first President Dr. Rajendra Prasad visited Imphal. Rani Gaidinliu met him and submitted a memorandum apprising him with the problems of her people – followers of Heraka. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru visited Manipur and Naga Hills. She met Nehru in Imphal and apprised him about hardships faced by Zeliangrong people living in all the three states now.
Ranima came to Lungkao – her native village in 1952 where she was accorded a warm welcome. The whole village was one in sharing their joys and pleasantries on finding their most revered daughter - Gaidinliu – amongst them who had become now Rani Gaidinliu for the whole of the nation – Bharatvarsh.
The Lungkao village was the first and foremost target of British rulers. They had burnt the village many times. Along with this village, her other supporter villages were also burnt and the villagers were tortured for not revealing the hide-outs of Gaindinliu. Ranima was pained to see the pathetic condition of her people, her devotees. The whole area was under deep influence of Haipou Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu. Rani Gaidinliu toured all the villages of her supporters and devotees and planned to remain in Tamenglang town and work for the all-round development of her people.
Rani Gaidinliu up in arms again
The Church, Naga National Council (NNC) and a section of Christian Nagas were opposed to Rani’s freedom movement and untiring efforts to preserve, protect and promote eternal region and culture of Nagas. Rani Gaidinliu was dead against the secessionist demand of NNC and proselytization by Church. She proclaimed that she was a Hindu and a proud Indian (Bharatiya) and stood for unity, integrity, and sovereignty of Bharatvarsh. She quoted Gandhi and Nehru while referring her freedom fight. Because of that the nexus of Church, NNC and prominent fanatic Christian Nagas planned a coup to assassinate her and convert here supporters to Christianity in every possible manner including murder. Church preached in churches – “Gaindinliu is witch, devil and satan worshipper. She eats human flesh and drinks the human blood in the human skull. She can kill anybody by her “jadoo” and can appear in many places at one time.” Hulangbo – an NNC Kilonger in charge of Zeliangrong area was after her head and he targeted Hereka people at gun point.
Compelled by circumstances, Rani Gaidinliu adopted jungle path again in 1960 in Independent Bharatvarsh and formed an army of 1000 jawans including 500 with Rifles. She challenged Church and NNC. In a clash, Rani sepoys killed 9 NNC cadres in January 1965 in Ngaulong village of Peren district of Nagaland. NNC wanted to avenge the killing of 9 of its cadres. Meanwhile, Phizo met Rani Gaidinliu in Lungkao village and a peace accord was arrived at.
Surrender of Ranima
The Government of Bharatvarsh (GoB) came to know about the Rani Gaidinliu’s underground activities, the former closely monitored. When the GoB realized that Rani Gaidinliu and Naga underground leaders were having a different cause and fighting each other, taking full advantage of this situation, a vigorous attempt was made by GoB to find out her in 1966. And after great persuasion, a settlement to lay down arms and ammunition was arrived at the meeting between Rani Gaidinliu and Subodh Chandra Dev, D.C. of Kohima, on behalf of GoB. The meeting took place in her hide out in thick forest near Nsong village the location of which was not clearly known to S. C. Dev. He was allowed to come alone to meet her. While dialogue the security guards of Rani were hovering around. In this meeting, some agreement was arrived at. On 5th January, 1966 after many years of rigorous underground jungle life in an old age of 50, Rani Gaidinliu came out from the jungle hideout to work for the betterment of her people through democratic, non-violent and peaceful means. Most of her followers were absorbed in the Nagaland Armed Forces.
Indira Gandhi, like her father Jawaharlal Nehru, showed respect and love for Rani Gaidinliu. As Rani Gaidinliu could no longer bear to see her people segregated, disintegrated, and scattered living in different areas of Assam, Manipur, and Nagaland, she went to meet Indira Gandhi in New Delhi on 22 February 1966 and submitted a memorandum demanding a separate Zeliangrong Administrative Unit for Zeliangrong people in Bharatvarsh. Indira Gandhi assured her fullest support to the demand of Rani Gaidinliu. When Indira Gandhi became the Prime Minister of Bharatvarsh, she acknowledged Rani Gaidinliu’s social and political works. The Government of Bharatvarsh conferred Tamra Patra, the freedom fighter award upon Rani Gaidinliu as a distinguished guest of freedom fighter’s function on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of the Independence of Bharatvarsh on 15th August 1972.
Rani Gaidinliu again met Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of Bharatvarsh on 18th August 1972 and pressed her demand for the formation of separate Zeliangrong Administrative Unit. Pursuing her cause ceaselessly, Rani Gaidinliu led Zeliangrong delegation to Delhi, met Indira Gandhi on 1st February 1973 and urged her to integrate the Zeliangrong people into one administrative unit.
She took another round of trip to press her long pending demand and met Morarji Desai, the then Prime Minister of Bharatvarsh at his office in New Delhi on 3rd September 1977. The same day after meeting with Morarji Desai, she went to meet Indira Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi. Indira Gandhi called upon her son Sanjay Gandhi, daughter in law Menaka Gandhi and her grandsons to come and meet the legendary freedom fighter, Rani Gaidinliu. In this way, the meeting renewed the bond of love and friendship fostered between her and Nehru family members for years.
Indira Gandhi came to Manipur and inaugurated the Jawaharlal Bal Bhavan at Awangkhul village, Tamenglong, Manipur on 12th April 1981. She remarked about Rani Gaidinliu and said, “One of our veteran freedom fighters about whom my father told me when I was a small girl and whom I have hhonoredever since is Rani Gaidinliu. I am glad to regard her as a friend”.
The Zeliangrong People’s Convention (ZPC) under the charismatic leadership of Rani Gaidinliu launched a mass movement for the creation of a separate state/homeland for the Zeliangrong people in the Union of Bharatvarsh. The ZPC was formed in 1980 at Tamenglong, Manipur and Rani Gaidinliu was unanimously elected as the President of the organization. The main objective of the organization was to demand a separate state for Zeliangrong people.
In 1982, Rani Gaidinliu-led ZPC delegation went to meet Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of Bharatvarsh, at her official residence in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum along with map indicating the areas where Zeliangrong people lived for centuries, demanding the integration of the same people i.e., Zemi, Liangmei and Rongmei administratively scattered in the North Cachar Hills of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland.
Since then, several ZPC leaders discussed the matter and raised the demand for the Zeliangrong people with the then Prime Ministers of Bharatvarsh - Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs. As a partial fulfilment of the demand of ZPC, the GoB sent an expert team of the Anthropological Survey of Bharatvarsh to examine the “Zeliangrong as a same ethnic group”. After the study of the ethnic culture of Zeliangrong people, the Anthropological Survey of India report to the Prime Minister Office stated that “Zeliangrong as an ethnic culture entity is a valid concept”. In 1992, Rani Gaidinliu reiterated the demand of the ZPC in a memorandum submitted to the then Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao for the recognition of the Zeliangrong community as a Scheduled Tribe.
In recognition of Rani Gaidinliu’s selfless service towards the country, she was conferred a number of awards and she was also honoured by the Government of Bharatvarsh, as given in the order below:
The Tamra Patra, Freedom Fighter Award (1972).
The Padma Bhushan (1981).
The Vivekananda Sewa Samman (1983).
The Birasha Munda Award (1994).
The Government of Bharatvarsh released a One Rupee Postage Stamp of Rani Gaidinliu (1996).
The Government of Bharatvarsh instituted an award called Stri Shakti Puraskar Award in honour of five eminent women in the Bharatiya history, viz., Devi Ahillya Bai Holkar, Rani Luxmi Bai, Mata Jijabai, Rani Gaidinliu and Kannagi. The award of Rupees one lakh and a citation is given every year on International Women Day that falls on 8th March to every veteran women social workers in recognition of their sacrifices for the society (2000).
The Navy Vessel “Rani Gaidinliu” (2016).
The massive Dharmasala Guest House (Rani Gaidinliu Bhavan) in Mumbai (2000).
Rs.5 and Rs.100 currency with a photo of Rani Gaidinliu (2015).
Rani Gaidinliu had been away from her native village for many decades and had sacrificed all her dynamism for the cause of her people without expecting anything in return. As she had grown old, she wanted to spend her life with the members of her family, relatives and friends. In 1992, she returned to her native village Lungkao in Manipur to spend her last days. In her village, after spending some months of her last worldly days along with the villagers, elders and leaders, she breathed her last and left for her heavenly abode on 17th February 1993.
On the demise of Rani Gaidinliu, her people and the whole nation of Bharatvarsh including Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister of Bharatvarsh mourned. Chintamani Panigrahi, the then Governor of Manipur, public leaders, villages headmen and thousands of her admirers had thronged to pay last respect to the departed leader on her funeral ceremony on 20.02.1993 at Lungkao village, Tamenglong district. And also a Full General Holiday in Manipur was declared by R. K. Dorendra Singh, the then Chief Minister of Manipur, later he attended the Condolence Service at Majorkhul, Imphal. Rani Gaidinliu was buried at the courtyard of her house as per the customs and rites of the Zeliangrong people with the highest honour that her people could ever give.
The supreme sacrifices made by Rani Gaidinliiu have not been rewarded in the true sense till today. Her struggle against all odds was for freedom of her people and to restore the glory of past, not for personal benefits, the money, fame, awards etc. With the passage of time, she too had grown old but her spirit and determination were never fading and her last wish was to integrate all the Zeliangrong people scattered in different states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland into “one administrative unit”
It is so painful to say that Rani Gaidinliu, who had bravely fought against the mighty British Empire and spent her young womanhood in the dark cells of British Bharatvarsh, could not see the fruits of her fight during her lifetime. Her contributions towards the cause of nation and especially the Zeliangrong people as a whole remain a symbol of hopes and an inspiration to the struggling people.
Rani Gaidinliu`s goal –
Freedom of Bharatvarsh from British rule and good governance in independent Bharat.
Preservation, protection and promotion of eternal religion and culture of Nagas.
To unite Zemi, Liangmei and Rongmei segments of Zeliangrong Nagas and bring them into one administrative unit.
Protection of jal, jungle and jameen (natural resources) of Nagas.
Protection and empowerment of unity, integrity and sovereignty of Bharatvarsh.
Activities at a glance –
Spearheading freedom movement.
Religious movement by name of Zeliangrong Heraka Movement.
Acting as a bridge over the gulf between Nagas and rest of the country.
Uniting Zemi, Liangmei and Rongmei Nagas under one nomenclature – Zeliangrong and bring them into one administrative unit under any of three adjoining States – Manipur, Nagaland or Assam.
All round development of her people.
Her untiring Efforts –
Meeting Shri Guruji (Madhav Sadashiv Golvarkar) 2nd RSS Chief during Jorhat Hindu Sammelan 1969.
Submitting a memorandum to President and Prime Minister of Bharatvarsh in support of Freedom of Religion Bill 1978.
Attending 2nd World Hindu Conference 1979 at Prayagraj (Allahabad) on 24, 25, 26 January 1979.
Gracing RSS Camp at Delhi as Chief Guest in presence of Lala Hansraj Gupta (Sanghchalak) and K.S. Sudarshan (Pracharak).
Submitting memorandum to Prime Minister in selective support of AASU agitation demanding eviction of Bangladeshi Muslims from Assam.
Sending Pou N. C. Zeliang (President of Zeliangrong Heraka Association) to attend as Chief Guest in 1st Akhil Bharatiya Karyakarta Sammelan of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram at New Delhi on 12th to 18th October 1981 along with 18 Heraka delegates.
Submitting a memorandum to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi against the visit of Pope John Paul II to Bharatvarsh in 1986.
Welcoming Ekatmata Govind Rath and worshipping the photo of Bharatmata in 1985 in Assam Rifles ground of Kohima organized by Vishva Hindu Parishad.
Meeting 3rd RSS Chief Balasahab Deoras at Dimapur in 1978.
Submitting a memorandum to Prime Minister in 1990 in support of construction of Ram Mandir at Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya.
Attending Rashtriya Vanvasi Mahila Sammelan as Chief Guest at Bhilai on 24, 25, 26 January 1985.
Meeting Balasahab Deshpandey (Founder President of Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram) in 1978 in Kohima and close association with Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram.
Having close association with Ashok Singhal (International President of VHP) and VHP organisation.
Relation with other Hindu organizations –
National Vice President of Akhil Bharatiya Swatantrata Senani Sangathan.
Patron – Adimjati Sewak Sangh New Delhi.
Close association with RSS, VHP, Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Bharat Sewashram Sangh, Ram Krishna Mission and Vivekanand Kendra.
“Rani Gaidinliu is at the top in the list of those legendary patriots who sacrificed their lot for the freedom of the country and for its well-being. The life of Ranima and the story of her freedom movement is unique and most inspiring. The life of Rani Gaidinliu is an inspiring example of Guru-Shishya Parampara (Guru-disciple tradition) where she sacrificed her life to materialize the dream of her Guru – Haipou Jadonang who dreamed for independent and prosperous Bharat. She was an extra-ordinary girl who attracted a person like Nehruji to come and meet her in jail. She was true follower of integral humanism who believed in co-existence and symbiosis.”
(24th August 2015 in New Delhi while speaking in Vigyan Bhawan in inaugural function of yearlong Birth Centenary of Rani Gaidinliu, organized by Union Ministry of Culture & Tourism).