Jadonang in History
- Part 1 -

Samson Remei, Ashinpou Gangmei, Dr Benjamin Gangmei, Thomas Kamei *

 82nd Death Anniversary of Haipou Jadonnang at Jadonnang Memorial Park , Imphal :: 29 August 2013
82nd Death Anniversary of Haipou Jadonnang at Jadonnang Memorial Park , Imphal on 29 August 2013 :: Pix - Lamdamba Oinam

Historian, John Seeley has said that politics without history "has no root". His observation is true of Naga freedom struggle. The history of the Nagas has inspired the Nagas to political movement and it continues to do so instilling hope and confidence in us. The fact of the Nagas as free people is practically posited as historical truism. That is, historically the Nagas did not accept any political authority to be under it. Hence claim to unique Naga history.

The history of the Nagas, like a cloth woven with threads of different colours, historically tends to be inclusive of different backgrounds of places, times, history-makers, events, etc. The history woven in such way gives no way to change the same by way of exclusion and underrating. Inclusiveness in Naga history was postulated early and purported to be a built-in direction for all concerned.

Historical exclusivism has much to teach us from Indian and North Eastern lessons. Making the Nagas wiser from the lessons be our lot.

The full import of the movement which still remains recondite to many especially among the Nagas was known to colonialists. The political movement popularly known as "Naga Raj", a title given by colonialists, of Jadonang is part of history of the Nagas from the angle of context in which the event occurred, his struggle for freedom of people and his struggle as exemplar for many including Naga nationalist leaders like AZ Phizo, Th Muivah, etc.

With regard to exemplar, former Union Home Minister (MOS), Prof. Meijinlung Kamson recalled what AZ Phizo who is said to have told ZNU leaders that "he followed the footstep of Jadonang". AZ Phizo was, at that time, enroute to erstwhile East Pakistan (now named Bangladesh) through Zeliangrong region, Manipur West district in 1956. He was accorded escortage by Zeliangrong men to Silhet and late Tadingpou Gangmei, former Tatar of NSCN (IM), Binakandi, Cachar district was one of the escorts who was fluent in Bengali.

Th Muivah was impressed with the patriotism of Jadonang and he said that "Jadonang had set an exemplary work for all of us. He did not surrender to the British and stood for the cause of the people till death". He urged the people to follow his footstep. He said this when he visited Peren district headquarters on 13 July, 2010.

Interestingly Jadonang's movement had coincided with the submission of historic memorandum to the Simon Commission in January 1929 in Naga Hills. Ultimately the coincidence, as history proves, was a reason, on the part of colonial authority, to have suspected his movement to be "potential source of danger" to colonial administration. Consequently, the authority implicated Jadonang in a murder case and hanged him on 29 August 1931 in Imphal.

Born in around 1905 at Puiluan (Kambiron) village in Tamenglong district, Manipur he grew up as an extraordinary man. Later he became seer. Jadonang told the people that the days of the British Government were counted and the rule of the Makaams would come. While his portent to the former was fulfilled, his auspication to the Makaams is yet to see the light of day. This is one reason that his movement is re-studied in trying time of would-be Naga new political dispensation.

Truly, Jadonang wanted freedom for the Makaams who are his people and the people to whom his people belonged. The latter are the Nagas. In Rongmei (Ruangmei) lexis the term Makaams are an aggregate of people who are common in history, origin, cultural life, etc.

He started roping other Naga groups like the Angamis, the Zemes, the Liangmais (now called Zeliangs) of Naga Hills and the Zemes of NC Hills, the Marams, the Paomais, the Puimeis (Inpuis), the Zemes and the Liangmais ( Kacha Nagas) of Manipur into his movement. According to "Report on Jadonang" by JP Mills, Deputy Commissioner of Naga Hills, Jadonang was said to have spoken that his people and the Angamis had common origin stating that "...though we and Angamis had different countries and different languages, we had a common origin" (See Gangmumei Kamei, Jadonang A Mystic Naga Rebel, 2002, P.52).

According to JP Mills, the Angamis, on the question whether to support Jadonang or not, were said to have discussed at Khonoma village. Again, SDO Tamenglong conducted, after a report given by the Kuki employees of Manipur, on the involvement of other Naga tribes. The report says that "the Angamis of Khonoma visited Tharon village... and there was a whole night dancing and feasting, hinting at the possible collusion between the Angamis and the Liangmais of Tharon..." SJ Duncan, the then SDO, Tamenglong reported that "...he is being held in awe and respect by the superstitious Nagas on account of his vagaries,...Even villages from the Naga Hills have gone to him with tributes".

As a result of that connections, DC of Naga Hills was informed to prohibit the entry from Naga Hills through Henima to Manipur except through Imphal. The clasp Jadonang maintained was, as has stated elsewhere above, the reason for suspecting him and the colonial administration had stepped up their conspiracy plan of physical elimination of Jadonang. For their apprehension was that if the wave of his movement spread unchecked to other Naga areas including Naga Hills, colonial administration would be in troubles.

While the extent of the troubles cannot be stated, the apprehension carries reality as his preparation, though humble for mighty British, turned out to be an armed struggle against British India.

He conscripted 500 youths into fighters of the movement; he was said to have acquired more than 30 muzzle loading guns and sizable number of other weapons including daos, spears for his movement. The youths were trained in wielding daos, spears and shooting guns along with military drill and words of command after his own innovation. He devised and applied strategy for the formation of military alliance among the Makaams living in the region. He sent spear to villages and whichever villages accepted the same it was signal of their support and solidarity with him. His military preparation began with the slogan: "The Makaams will rule".

The time Jadonang started his movement in the days the colonial power took control of the region. Colonial administration, as it was elsewhere, was oppressive by collecting, sometime with force, tax from the hard-up tribals, resorting to forced labour and subscription of money for touring Govt. employees to hill region, etc. And, on failing or refusal for these duties, the helpless tribals were severely punished anywhere and anytime.

The condition had made the people to do a readily response to the option which could, they supposed, relieve them from this oppressive rule of colonial masters. Combined with this hope of freedom from the rule and Jadonang's portent to the British authority, the response of the masses to his movement was overwhelming. Jadonang's native village became political nerve centre. In 1928 Jadonang declared that the rule of British Govt. was soon coming to an end.

Jadonang who was truly adverse to that oppressive rule and who had heart for the sufferings of people under the rule, declared his anti-Govt. stand over administrative concerns: no tax to Govt. from 1932; no subscription of money for touring Govt. officials and Lambus; no forced labour for Govt. employees. Instead of these duties to colonial administration, he declared, people should give tributes (in kind:mithuns) to him who was leading people for their freedom.

On account of his anti-British activities between 1928-1930, the colonial authority began to suspect him and started deterring his movement. As for first incident, in Dec 1928 he was imprisoned in Tamenglong for declaring the end of British Government. Yet it had little effect on him and continued his movement without being let up. The colonial authority who dealt with him with strong hand were JP Mills, DC of Naga Hills, JC Higgins, Political Agent in Manipur, WA Crosgrave, Chief Secretary of Assam and Christopher Gimson, DC of Cachar along with SJ Duncan, SDO, Tamenglong.

In his communication with JC Higgins, JP Mills informed him about his connection with the Angamis of Khonoma and Zeme villages of NC Hills. He also informed the Commissioner of Surma Valley about him stating that Jadonang was leading a political movement for the Makaams with a declaration that the days of British Govt, the Manipuris (or the Meiteis) and the Kukis would end in three years.

JP Mills was an administrative authority who informed JC Higgins about the connections between Naga Hills and the Nagas of Manipur hills particularly, Manipur West and North in those days. It was also he to whom Lhoupa, Mauzadar of Henima informed about Jadonang's declaration of would-be new reign which the Nagas of those areas, who were under his sway, accepted; the urgency of prevention of the movement by deploying security forces in the areas. It was also he whom SJ Duncan, Tamenglong SDO, by report to JC Higgins, wanted him to take up restriction of entry of the Nagas from Naga Hills into Manipur via Henima village.

Spearheading a conspiracy plan against Jadonang for his anti-British movement launched for freedom of the people, JC Higgins instructed SDO, Tamenglong to conduct on the nexus between the Angamis of Naga Hills and Liangmais of Manipur and the SDO affirmed it in his report. Interestingly, his report also mentioned Jadonang's declaration not to pay tax to the Govt; the impending end of British Govt. and about the new ruler which was to replace the British Govt.

His report also had a mention pleading that the Nagas from Naga Hills be restricted from entering Manipur through Henima village of Naga Hills. Further the report pleaded that both Jadonang and Gaidinliu be arrested and confined in jail for not less than a year. And, Higgins informed Christopher Gimson, DC of Cachar to arrest Jadonang when he was enroute for his home-centre from his worship at Bhuvan Hill.

Further he also consulted Mills for carrying out his conspiracy plan against Jadonang. After the arrest of Jadonang at Binakandi, Silchar, he wired Gimson to extradite him to Manipur State. Finally, it was JC Higgins, upon him the authority of police, judiciary and executive lied, judged him with a sole intent of execution of Jadonang.

The prosecution of Jadonang by JC Higgins was without due legal procedure but it was politically motivated. This is proved on two counts: the crime for which he was charged was not justified; the process of prosecution was implicative and incriminatory for political end.

To be continued.....

* Samson Remei, Ashinpou Gangmei, Dr Benjamin Gangmei, Thomas Kamei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
Samson Remei, former President (UNC),
Ashinpou Gangmei, former Chairman of Alternative Arrangement,
Dr. Benjamin Gangmei, Assoc. Prof. and
Thomas Kamei, former President of Zeliangrong Baudi, Manipur
This article was webcasted on September 02 2021.

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