TODAY -

Rani Gaidinliu: A Post colonial reading

Benjamin Gondaimei *

Rani Gaidinliu stamp
Rani Gaidinliu stamp :: Pix - TSE



Gaidinliu was born to Lothonang Pamei and D. Kachaklinliu of Pamei lineage in 26 January 1915 at the Village of Luangkao (Nungkao) in the present Tousem Sub-division in Tamenglong District of Manipur. Her father was the owner of Luangkao-Khangchu (male dormitory of Rongmei/Zeliangrong (Kabui) –custom). She joined freedom struggle with Jadonang in her first teenage of 13 on her visit to Puiluan. She was called lovingly as Dina (Dihna-to pronounce) by Jadonang. At 16 years of age, she was made a women wing leader in the religious activities and to impart the traditional mannerism and discipline.

After the execution of Jadonang on 29.08.1931 by the British, she shouldered the responsibilities of the Zeliangrong Movement against the British, and for the uplift 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.

STRUGGLE: She came from a dilapidated hamlet with a zealous zeal to free her people following the phenomenal footstep of Haipou Jadonang.

The imperial brutality and whims of navigating their power across the land prove perilous and endangering against life and people's livelihood. The host of British soldiers towering upon the land of the Nagas and Zeliangrong in particular signified the coming of enslavement in political, social, cultural, and economically.

The hamlet girl who wished to see her people live in freedom was vulnerable to the move of the British callous rules. As she sacrificed too much for the struggle – the chance to feast, sing, dance, and to be with the villagers were out of it. Yet she was surrounded by love, by excitement in the struggle for her people's freedom. Hunted by her adversaries she walked through the forest with the comrades, and that was a place of laughing.

The taxation the villagers paid to the stranger imperialist. Slavery in the mode of porter-system, force labour, walking through the hilly terrain and the route edges of thick jungle where her people struggles on with silence to the brute of British was unbearable for her. She was hiding in her own land as being hounded by the alien who came to subdue the tribal who are naturally republic in its administration.

She was captured and jailed in her homeland. She lost her youthful life in the prison cell and grew up without father and mother to look after; she learnt early on that rule, look out for her self-independence. Much of what she can do and say came from being independent at an early age.

She was hated and taunted by people for being a clumsy girl, being among the gangs of men with a gun. People had been pelting with stones of harsh words against her endeavour; the British launch of a hunt against her and on the other hand she was interrupted by secessionist Naga political group who stormed the stage; she was charged with sedition for fighting the right to self-determination. "They tried to keep her destabilised," and yet she does not feel threatened? "Anybody who said anything against the empire was in danger as Hundreds of people were in jail."

She was indomitable mother and daughter of Zeliangrong. Many countries and kingdoms were struggling for independence, Empire has sprouted other subsidiary heads, some dangerous by-products - nationalism, religious bigotry, fascism and, of course, terrorism.

Corporatization and Privatization were being on the wave with the practice of imperialism and merchandization by the British. The dismantling of freedom was proceeding with the speed and efficiency of a Gun and Bible. While people's lives had been ransacked which pushed people off their land and out of their jobs. Hundreds were impoverished by war and starvation.

She has been the centre of a lot of conflict in struggle for life and freedom for her people. She's an extraordinary woman, and when the empire kept her in the jail she did not feel thwarted.

Cultural hegemony came in through western influences. The ignorant and naïve Nagas has fallen prey to the bait of imperialism. Her culture was on the route of obliteration with the claiming of Nagaland for Christ by the Naga National Movement. Many were converted and thus the traditional heritage was on the move of being dumping away. Wave of Christianity and its impact came as a threat to her indigenous religion when revivalism the force of Peitism was swarming across the Naga country.

She was trying to refashion her people from the ashes of the havoc wrought by the colonialists. In India the movement against corporate hegemony and movement for free states was gathering momentum and was poised to become the only real political force to counter Democratic Centralism and imperialism.

Many of us had dark moments of hopelessness and despair. We knew that under the spreading canopy of the war against secession or sedition militarization gallops through our villages which were term as national security.

While bullets rained down on the land, and Armed Forces creeps across the lands, natural resources are being plundered. The look at conflict as a straightforward eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation between "Empire" and those who were resisting it, it might seem that the locals are losing. But she understood that there was something that's alive.

As the disparity between the foreigners and the locals poor grew. Viewing the opinion of Arundhati Roy, "To push through their empire sweetheart deals," to win the local hearts, through the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the dreams we dream, they began the policies of loyal dear development in the form of education and health care centers, they push through unpopular reforms of tribal oral laws and quell the locals with mutinies. Imperialism uses a press that pretends to be free and courts that pretend to dispense justice by arresting many freedom fighters."

This obscene accumulation of power, his greatly increased distance between those who make the decisions and those who have to suffer them is the imperialism that hover the land. The fight, goal, and vision of Rani Gaidinliu were to eliminate the beast and power that binds her people.

RESISTANCE: But there was another way of looking at the oppressor. Roy said, the powerless stood and watched, each in their own ways, laid siege to "dominator." She may not have stopped it in its tracks and achieve what she aimed at it, but she had exposed the nakedness with the pace of her movement. She managed to loosen and drop the mask covering forcing it into the open.

It now stands before the world's stage that Zeliangrong had been brutalized and the iniquitous nakedness not fulfilling the contributions of Zeliangrong patriots. It was a secret hidden especially from the people. But now all the secrets are history, and its history is public knowledge. It's street talk.

Today, we know that every argument is a lie that is being used to escalate the war against the tribal and kill. The most ludicrous of is the Hanging of Haipou Jadonang and putting Rani Gaidinliu in a dungeon, killing people to save their brutality and barbarism from freedom.

For poor revolutionist and the locals the empire did not always appear in the form of guns and bombs. But it appeared in their lives in very local avatar-losing jobs, being enforced with non-payable taxes, porters of no wages, being evicted from their homes. It was a process of relentless impoverishment which the locals were very much familiar and what they did was exacerbate inequalities and favouritism.

Quite knowing that they had become the victims of the empire the locals and Rani Gaidinliu began to confront in a very different ways. The illegal invasion, the brutal occupation in the name of civilisation, development and education, replacing laws against the indigenous/local laws and their shameless appropriation of wealth and resources and till today they justified that the tribal lands were developed because of them.

The first militant confrontation in the Naga History between the Empire and the Naga Raj was carried out by Haipou Jadonang in 1920s. Many mass movement came up and one among was the Zeliangrong Movement while the British tried to repress it by hanging Haipou Jadonang with a false accusation of murder in 1931.

There was none to stop the patriot who took to revolt for her people and free from the clutch of the power monger the empire. Dangers were around as deadly confrontation between the Zeliangrong Patriots and the repressive empire increased. Wherever the slightest hint of local and civil resistance signs appeared, the crackdown were merciless, leading to burning of villages, raping, slaughtering animals and burning of granaries.

"One did not endorse the violence of militant groups. Neither morally nor strategically, but to condemn it without first denouncing the much greater violence perpetrated by the state would be to deny the people of the regions not just their basic human rights, but even the right to a fair hearing. People who had lived in situations of conflict knew that militancy and armed struggles provokes a massive escalation of violence from the state. But living as they do, in situations of unbearable injustice, could they remain silent forever?" The resistance movements are being crushed, bought or simply ignored.

There was no alternative but taking up arms or Armed Struggle or insurgency. And there was also an alternative to insurgency or Armed struggles and it is called justice. It was time to recognise that no amount of guns, bombs or full-spectrum dominance or daisy cutters or spurious governing councils could buy peace and freedom at the cost of justice.

The voice of the people and struggle will continue to haunt and wave around until justice is placed at the rightful place. To conquer over the empire and to bind their power was "To deprive their oxygen, to shame them, to mock it. To conquer them with our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness and our ability to tell our own stories in our own ways. Stories that were different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe."

Everyone shall salute from their deepest homage and immense admiration to the Womanhood of Zeliangrong who in the time of danger for the native soil forsook the sanctuary of their homes and with constant valor and fortitude stood shoulder to shoulder with her menfolk, in the frontline of her army contribute with them the sacrifices and triumphs of the struggle. Women had always been there of course but now there was an avalanche of them, which took not only the British Government but their own menfolk by surprise.

The entire history of the freedom movement is replete with the saga of bravery, sacrifice and political sagacity of great men and women of the country. Their number and stature often gave us an erroneous impression that it was only a man's movement. But it was not so. Many prominent women played a leading role in the freedom movement.

In keeping with this tradition, burden of tears and toils of the long years of struggle for people's freedom was borne by the wives, mothers, and daughters, silently and cheerfully. The programme of self-imposed poverty and periodical jail going was possible only because of the willing co-operation of the worker's family. In the various resistance movements in the villages, the illiterate women played this passive but contributory part as comrades of their menfolk.

In 1932 Gaidinliu was captured by the Britishers and tried. She was sentenced to life imprisonment. Kabui Samiti formed on 7-7-1934 performed Chukthoibe on 1-4-1934 as reconciliation and cleansing of sins from 'Sangnari' (inter village feud/head hunting) that maidenly led to the Zeliangrong Solidarity. The Samiti later resolved a condemnation against Jadonang and Gaidinliu stating that their Nagaraj Movement caused the Kabui & Kacha Naga (Zeliangrong) to suffer under the British repression (as reproduced on 7-8-1978 on Zeliangrong Integration meeting at Majorkhul, Imphal).

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who visited Gaidinliu at Shillong jail in 1937 called her "Daughter of the Hills, Rani of her people, and compared her with Joan-de-Arc of France and Rani Laxmi Bai of Jhansi". Ever since, the title "Rani Gaidinliu" remained attached to her name. She was the freedom fighter of Asia, India and Nagas because all fought against Britishers.

Pandit Nehru sought the help of Lady Aston, MP, UK for the release of Rani Gaidinliu but, Lady Aston replied that the Britishers were reluctant for fear of further revolt. Only on 14-10-1947 Rani Gaidinliu was released when Indian won freedom. Rani gaidinliu was not satisfied with all the personal honours like "Padma Bushan, Stri Shakti Puraskar" and other Awards. She struggled for the deliverance of her people to find political solution.


* Benjamin Gondaimei wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on June 01, 2015.


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