Jadonang paid the price: The indomitable faith of martyrdom

Gwangphun Gangmei *

86th Martyr's Day of Haipou Jadonang observed at Haipou Jadonang Park at Keishampat :: 29 August 2017
86th Martyr's Day of Haipou Jadonang observed at Haipou Jadonang Park on 29 August 2017 :: Pix - Angam

Our Nation is indebted to patriotic martyrdom of the countrymen.

The works of martyrs were written by the ink of blood but their histories were written by the sweats and strains of scholars. All the deeds of great men of the distant past are the lighthouse of faith and courage for the present and poster generations. The pride, glory and prestige of the nation would be lost and gone to naught if citizens forget to honor their heroes and heroines. Oral and written account of the past patriots has kept alive and restores the forgotten history that the present generation may straighten and strengthen the way of life of the nation.

To build a Nation and people is to honor and respect its heroes and heroines of the past and exemplify them in our persons in the present. The present generation and posterity may find rest and hope in the spirit of nationalism displayed by our patriots. The height and pride of patriotism shown by the past patriots are the model and spirit for our time to reflect.

Our historic forces have not been given a memory and due place in our society. This is our grievous mistake committed and regretted. For a people and a nation to rise to height of glory and greatness, the people must have a common memory of their great heroes' heroines and be proud of the triumphs and achievements they gained.

The British rose to height of world admiration because they had great heroes and heroines to admire and to be inspired. Japan rose to height of world economic triumphant from a humiliating military defeat. All nations that rose to great heights are made of their great men's vision and mission achieved. Do we value, admire and appreciate our heroes? We rise or fall on how we think and value on what we believe.

We commemorate the martyrdom of Jadonang every year on 29th August to pay our highest homage to him, as one of the Rongmei Naga patriots who fought and died for his country.

His youthful life sacrificed was the price paid for the cost of freedom of the people. The Day is observed to mark the heroic and historic deed of Jadonang. He had committed a resolute act of defying the foes in order to defend people and their land. He stood firmed like a rock in his principle and to the cause to die for till his last.

No words of surrender or act of withdrawal was uttered or left behind him when he died. Jadonang was hanged for refusing to submit or succumb to the invading policy and force of the British colonial imperialism in the land. He defied the rule of the foreigners to defend Makaam's people and their land. The time, Indian Territory was not yet demarcated/constituted and Manipur state boundary not curved. It was this spirit and rights that moved the people to rebel and resist all outside invading and occupational forces.

The British attempted to penetrate their rule over the hill people by sending their assistant political agents and military forces along. Jadonang (1905-1931) was perhaps the first Nagas martyr who was hanged at the British scaffold. He out rightly denounced the foreign rule at the face of the cruel imperialists and invaders.

He vehemently opposed the introduction of foreign religion and culture. He resisted Force taxation and claim of dominion over the people and land. He projected the indigenous original faith before the world, defended the rights of the people over their culture, faith and the land. He fought as a non-conformist against the dominating force.

He organized a rebel movement called "No Tax Movement" and "Civil Right Movement (Makaam mei rui Gwanghtu puni); Makaam People will reign in their land. Sir Robert Reid, the then Governor of Assam, British India termed "The Naga Raj Movement" as reported by J.C.Higgins a political agent of Manipur province. He raised a regional resistance force (Makaam Riphian) about 500 soldiers (men and women) who were later slain, imprisoned and tortured to death.

Few survived yet weakened and aged by the effects of persecution. Thousands of his tribesmen and villagers were persecuted, women molested and raped before their husbands and parents in broad daylight, thousands were enslaved and sent to different far flung areas in the region and abroad as porters, sweepers, cooks, watchmen and personal servants.

Unnumbered Rongmei Naga youths were taken abroad as slaves. Only few returned home. Villagers were imposed with heavy fines and penalties for supporting the movement. Force conversion to Christianity meted and disadvantaged the indigenous faith. When the pressure of suppression was at the zenith, He was ultimately sentenced to cruelest act of hanging on the gallows/scaffold on 29th August 1931 at the river side of Nambol Imphal. No

Criminal investigation report against him could be established to substantiate for such act of penalty except for reason and presumption that, the Anti-colonial Naga Movement would be plucked in the bud if Jadonang were put to death. The implicated case of murder as alleged against Jadonang was not sufficient ground and reason to justify the execution.

The supposed crime against the British Government was the prime reason to which Jadonang and his men were convicted and succumbed. The alleged case of murder was labeled only to validate and corroborate the baleful design of the British policy to destroy the movement by killing the key and ring leader.

All actual evidences leading to the murder of Jadonang with the vindictive policy of the British was later brought to light for all to see. Judges and noble thinkers of the time stood aghast at the extremely unjust treatment meted to him without a tint and tone of compassion upon the veiled innocent. The judgment has been set and the sentence was promptly pronounced with a cruel vocal in a show of wrath and rage against the Nagas and their movement in general.

To the utter surprise and dismay of the British, the spirit and seed of defiant and resistance continued even to greater height by Gaidinliu who was absconded from the jail and the scene of hanging Jadonang. The fact has resulted re-enforcement of the British operational forces against the movement and greater degree of atrocities was committed upon the people.

She was captured and imprisoned for life so as Naga Movement could be forever closed and finished. The movement has set ablaze the fire of Freedom Movement in the hearts of the Nagas far and near in Naga Hills of Assam and Manipur Provincial state. Thus the regional anti-colonial movement was set in the history as lighthouse of National freedom Movement in the Northeast region since then.

Commemorating the death of Jadonang as a Naga Martyr by the Rongmei Naga Youths signifies a show of remonstration against all despotic invading forces and outrage over brutal killers. We value and remember in admiration the daring service he rendered for the people and nation. We recognized him to be the founder and mover of the Naga movement for freedom in their land. He is also recognized as the Naga Hero figure fighter for his valiant spirit displayed at the face of tyrannical enemies.

The synchronized Naga (Makaam) movement (1891-1947) and the rising tide of Naga Club (1918) with submission of memorandum to the Simon Commission of 1929 was the basis of the Nagas' struggle for freedom in their homeland. Therefore the Naga Raj movement and the coincident rising of Naga Club upto the formation of NNC in 1946 have a connecting link incorporating the Naga story of struggle for self determination and freedom. Denying the fact could mean refuting the history.

There can be no plant without its seed planted and rooted on the ground. Subsequently, the Indo-Naga war of independent since its initial struggle continues at momentum culminating into its final stage with the Government of India. Now all is well that ends well stage of reasoning and realization has come to its reality for Nagas and Indians.

Therefore the Nagas' long persistence struggle for justice and freedom is the human birthright to be recognized and respected. The Nagas too as a people and Nation are struggling for human freedom on equal footing on ground with the rest of the Nations and people of the world. The people are paying their high tribute of respect and love to the Martyrdom of those freedom fighters; counting the values and costs of their sacrifices and sufferings made in the cause of liberating the people.

Hence every 29th August is collectively observed in honor and great respect paying to those legendary patriots and freedom fighters of the people. The day is taken on account of the death of Jadonang who offered a supreme sacrifice of his own dear life as the cost of freedom of the people at the British scaffold/gibbet on 29th August 1931.

Equal importance and recognition be accorded to Jadonang with the death of Bhagat Singh, who was hanged on March 23, 1931 and Shivram Raj Guru, and Sukhdev of Jalandhar, as well. Their Death was richly accounted in the history of the Nation. It is all because the people know their heroes and worship in admiration. They admire, uplift and follow the path of valiant course trodden by their heroes and heroines.

The people of Jalandhar don't count or talk about the limitations, weaknesses or personal shortcoming of their hero-leaders; no fault finding no belittling comments on them but only talked about the success points that are gainful for the common good of the people. We too ought to think and do like-wise even with greater common sense.

Small and idle hearts talk negatives about others. Big and noble hearts talk positives about others. The quality of a tribe or nation is the quality of its citizens. The pride of a nation is progressive achievements of its citizens.

* Gwangphun Gangmei wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is a research activist and president of Rongmei Naga Youth Organisation
This article was posted on September 19, 2017.

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