We know Rani Gaidinliu as a well known freedom fighter immediately, remembered fondly by the individuals and given recognition and honour by the Government of India. Her struggles and legendary exploits towards the mighty British Empire in Northeast India are properly documented. Her contribution to the liberty wrestle is being taught as half of the historical past syllabus in faculties and faculties in India.

Some years in the past, on 26 August 2015, the Government of India commemorated the start centenary of Rani Gaidinliu culminating in a year-long celebration throughout India. At the inauguration of the start centenary celebrations at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a commemorative coin of 100 rupees and a circulation coin of 5 rupees that includes Rani Gaidinliu (p. 233). The Prime Minister credited Rani Gaidinliu with spreading the message of Mahatma Gandhi in Northeast India. Referring to her as ‘Rani Maa’, the Prime Minister mentioned that it’s our misfortune that folks akin to Rani Gaidinliu should not remembered adequately.

 

Chief ministers of Nagaland and Manipur, T.R. Zeliang and Okram Ibobi Singh, respectively, had been current on the event and paid wealthy tributes to her reminiscence. Minister of State for Development of North East Region Jitendra Singh introduced that as a tribute to Rani Gaidinliu, the DoNER ministry intends to create a library-cum-museum at Kohima. Unfortunately, this announcement set off a series of occasions again within the small state of Nagaland the place social organisations representing varied tribal teams, tribal councils and even spiritual organisations vehemently protested towards the establishing of the library-cum-museum at Kohima. A battle of phrases began within the native newspapers condemning the proposal to commemorate and honour her in Nagaland. The fundamental arguments towards the transfer had been based mostly on the premise that Rani Gaidinliu was ‘pro-India’ and subsequently ‘anti-Naga’ as she labored towards the curiosity of Naga nationalist political teams who needed an unbiased sovereign Nagaland. Also, since Gaidinliu promoted her personal model of indigenous faith often called the Heraka in an in any other case Christian majority state, she was seen as working towards the curiosity of the bulk spiritual teams. Vilification campaigns towards Rani Gaidinliu adopted this announcement by varied pro-independence writers and retired bureaucrats egged on by vested curiosity teams. This continued for months. Most views expressed had been jaundiced and biased, based mostly on the writings of British colonial authors and on data handed down from social milieu based mostly on rumour and rumours. One attention-grabbing allegation was that it was a conspiracy by the rightist RSS to promote Hinduism and proselytise Nagas. Nothing might have been farther from the reality.

 

I started to marvel why the character of Rani Gaidinliu aroused such excessive reactions from completely different units of individuals in Northeast India? These reactions from completely different quarters have confronted me as an writer as I began to learn extra and delved into the enigmatic life of Rani Gaidinliu.

Gaidinliu was merely often called ‘Apei Rani’ or Grandma Rani amongst her individuals, the Zeliangrongs, a proud and conservative tribe inhabiting the once-contiguous geographical space of Manipur north and west districts, Cachar district, elements of Barak Valley of Assam, and Peren district of Nagaland.

 

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Around December 1937, Jawaharlal Nehru whereas touring undivided Assam as president of the Indian National Congress, because it was his wont, threw himself into the affairs of the state. To perceive the issues besetting the state of Assam, he began assembly all of the stakeholders, representatives from completely different communities, tribal teams and varied splinter teams. It was throughout such interactions with some Congressmen from Cachar within the Surma valley that Nehru first heard about the heroic deeds and struggles of Jadonang and Gaidinliu. He was very impressed by the truth that Gaidinliu was recognised by her Naga individuals, particularly the Zeliangrong tribe, as their saviour and chief. A visionary freedom fighter and a romantic author, Jawaharlal Nehru was drastically impressed by the exploits of Gaidinliu and was shocked {that a} younger Naga lady ought to undergo a lot by the hands of the British.

 

While Nehru was in Sylhet in December 1937, he wrote:

“In Sylhet additionally, many Nagas from the encompassing hills got here to go to me with greetings and presents. From them and others, I heard a narrative which India ought to know and cherish. It was a narrative of a younger girl of their tribe belonging to the Kabui clan within the Naga Hills. She was of the priestly class and she or he had the distinctive alternative to obtain her training in a mission college [this was probably misinformed to Nehru as Gaidinliu was unlettered], the place she reached the ninth or tenth class. Gaidinliu was her identify and she or he was about nineteen six years in the past when the civil disobedience motion blazed over the size and breadth of India, information of Gandhi and the Congress reached her in her hill abode and located an echo in her coronary heart. She dreamt of freedom for her individuals and the ending of all restrictions they suffered from; she raised the banner of independence and referred to as her individuals to rally round it. Perhaps, she thought fairly prematurely that the British Empire was fading out. But that Empire nonetheless functioned successfully and aggressively and it took vengeance on her and her individuals. Many villages had been burnt and destroyed and this heroic lady was captured and sentenced to transportation for all times. And now she lies in some jail in Assam, losing her shiny younger womanhood in darkish cells and solitude. Six years she has been there. What torment and suppression of spirit they’ve introduced to her, who within the prime of her youth dared to problem an Empire! She can roam no extra in her hill nation via the forest glades, or sing within the recent crisp air of the mountains. This wild factor sits cabined in darkness with a couple of yards of area within the daytime, craving her coronary heart. And India doesn’t even know of this courageous youngster of her hills. A day will come when India will keep in mind her and cherish her, and produce her out of her jail cell.”

 


 

Excerpted from Rani Gaidinliu: Legendary Freedom Fighter from the Northeast (Niyogi Books)


 

Rani Gaidinliu

By Som Kamei

Niyogi Books

pp. 230, Rs.299

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