Unfulfilled vision and dream of Rani Gaidinliu
- Part 2 -

Dr. Gairiangmei Maringmei *

Birth Centenary of Padmabushan Rani Gaidinliu at Iboyaima Shanglen :: February 01 2015
Birth Centenary of Rani Gaidinliu at Iboyaima Shanglen on February 01 2015 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

Rani Gaidinliu led the Zeliangrong People's Convention (ZPC) since 11th October, 1980 till her demise in 17th February, 1993. The ZPC on 30th November, 1982 made a solemn declaration and pledge to demand the "Zeliangrong Homeland" within the Union of India which meant the earlier Status "Zeliangrong Province (7th Province)" of Federal Government of Nagaland in 1957.

In 1982, Rani Gaidinliu led ZPC delegations went again to meet Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, New Delhi, and submitted a memorandum along with map indicating the areas where Zeliangrong people lived for centuries. Since then, several ZPC leaders discussed the matter and raised the demand for the Zeliangrong people with the then Prime Ministers of India: Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and the officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India.

As a partial fulfillment of the demand of ZPC, the Government of India sent the expert team of the Anthropological Survey of India to examine the "Zeliangrong as a same ethnic group".

After the study of ethnic and culture of Zeliangrong people, the Anthropological Survey of India report to the Prime Minister Office stated that the Zeliangrong as an ethnic-culture entity is a valid concept. Rani Gaidinliu reiterated the demand of the ZPC in a memorandum submitted to Narasimha Rao, the then Prime Minister of India for the recognition of the Zeliangrong community as a Scheduled Tribe in 1992.

Rani Gaidinliu was well recognized for her role in the freedom struggle against the mighty British rule to win back indigenous people's freedom and she was appointed as the President of All India Freedom Fighters Association of Nagaland state. She was instrumental in all round development of Zeliangrong people like for the creation of Tamenglong district in Manipur, the establishment of Peren district of Nagaland, the protection of the Zeliangrong people in North Cachar Hills in Assam etc.

She was also closely associated with various religious and cultural organizations and became the preceptor of traditional religion of Zeliangrong community i. e., Heraka.

The Government of India recognized Rani Gaidinliu's selfless service towards the society and conferred to her number of awards and honour.

The following awards and honour conferred to her are given below:

1. The Tamra Patra, the freedom fighter award (1972).

2. The Padma Bhusan (1981).

3. The Vivekananda Sewa Summan (1983).

4. The Birasha Munda Award (1994).

5. The Government of India released a One Rupee Postage Stamp of Rani Gaidinliu (1996).

6. The Government of India instituted an award called Stri Shakti Puraskar Award in honour of five eminent women of India, viz., Devi Ahillya Bai Holkar, Rani Luxmi Bai, Mata Jijabai, Rani Gaidinliu and Kanungi. The award of Rupees one lakh and a citation is given every year on the 8 of March that falls on International Women Day to every women social worker in recognition of their work contributions for the society (2000).

7. The Navy Vessal "Rani Gaidinliu" (2010).

8. The massive Dharmasala Guest House (Rani Gaidinliu Bhavan) in Mumbai (2000).

9. The currency note of Rs. 100 and coin of Rs. 5 are issued in her name (2015).

The work contributions and supreme sacrifices for the society made by Rani Gaidinliu, the legendary freedom fighter have not been rewarded in true way till today. To understand what exactly she wanted for in her lifetime, here below reproducing the statement made by Rani Gaidinliu during ZPC movement:

1. It is my lifelong mission to reunify the Zeliangrong people scattered in the states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland into a common Homeland. I am pained that the colonial legacy of fragmentation of Zeliangrong inhabited areas has been lingering in independent India. This colonial mistake should be immediately rectified.

2. I fought against the British in 1930s for liberation from foreign rule. I suffered 12 years imprisonment in British jails. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and subsequently Smt. Indira Gandhi sympathized with the aspirations of the Zeliangrong people. I went underground again (1960-66) to fight the secessionist forces in my area and for political reunification, preserving of our identity and our cultural heritage. Since my coming from underground to over-ground in 1966, I have been carrying on a peaceful demand for a Zeliangrong homeland. Now the Zeliangrong People's Convention (ZPC) is spearheading a peaceful, democratic and constitutional movement for the Zeliangrong Homeland. Our objective has not yet been achieved. I do believe we will attain the goal.

3. Our talks with the Central leaders during the last three years have not produced any tangible result. It is a story of unfulfilled and unredeemed assurances. Time has come and I must inform the nation of our demand. Shri Buta Singh, Hon'ble Home Minister told me on 16th August, 1986 in New Delhi that the Zeliangrong people would be integrated into a single territory. ZPC welcomed it but an official of the Home Ministry denied it. I still maintain that he gave this assurance in front of a 14 (fourteen) member delegation. He also made the offer of a Central Development Authority for the Zeliangrong areas on 16th February, 1988. Nothing has come so far. Perhaps it was shelved.

4. I had a meeting with Santosh Mohan Dev, Hon'ble Minister of State (Home) on the 14th October, 1989 along with the delegation of ZPC. He had assured to take up necessary action in favour of the demand of the Zeliangrong Homeland. Many assurances have failed to be fulfilled till now. However, I have been waiting with earnest hope that the Central Government shall not fail with its assurances this time.

5. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who was sympathetic to our aspirations told me on 21st February, 1987 that the development and cultural demand of ZPC were acceptable to the Government and that our demands would be examined whether they could be fulfilled "within the existing framework". Detailed discussions were held with the Prime Minister's Secretary on several occasions. The Prime Minister expressed his difficulty on 1st February, 1988 for the creation of a separate Zeliangrong State at the present circumstances even though he emphasized on the need for a proper analysis on the feasibility of the proposal. However, he invited suggestions to solve the problems. I submitted a proposal, which may be a basis for the settlement of the Zeliangrong demand. There is no reaction from the Government of India.

6. Our demand for constitutional recognition of "Any Zeliangrong Tribe (including Zeme, Liangmai, Rongmei and Puimei)" though "agreed in principle" has not been implemented.

7. After many years of fierce struggle I gave up violence as a means of political action in 1966 with the hope that justice will be done to my people by the Government of India. However, I am compelled to launch a peaceful political agitation as per the resolutions of the Sixth Conference of ZPC held at Halflong, Assam on 15th October, 1988 in view of the refusal of the Government of India to concede our genuine demand. I have also informed Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi personally about this decision. I seek the cooperation of the liberal, patriotic and democratic forces in the country for the fulfillment of our long standing demand for Zeliangrong State within the Union of India. I believe India is a great nation, magnanimous enough to accommodate the aspiration of a small ethnic group like the Zeliangrong people.


* Dr. Gairiangmei Maringmei wrote this article for The Sangai Express and Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on February 14, 2015.

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