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Rani Gaidinliu – Warrior Queen of the hills

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“We are free people, the white men should not rule over us….”

Rani Gaidinliu who gave a clarion call at a tender age of 13 to her people from the Naga Tribes with precocious abilities was set to take the centre stage of the Heraka spiritualist Movement after the Martyrdom of her cousin Haipou Jadonang.

The Heraka movement began as a spiritualist movement within the animist religion of the Nagas with a monotheistic approach towards God and nature worship in centre. In a short time it grew into a political movement insinuating British authorities and Christian missionaries who were laying ground work to evangelise the Naga Tribes. Her courageous actions against colonial govt soon transpired her into incarnate of the Goddess Cherachamdinliu in Manipur and surrounding regions.

The reformist movement steadfastly turned into a political movement against the British Raj. Sensing this the British caught Haipou Jadonang and then hanged him to death. Rani not to be cowed down by this heinous act took over the leadership. She urged the people neither to pay taxes and nor to work for the British which were the practices of t
he freedom struggle so she went underground and making many attacks on the British administration.

As she gained tremendous support, magnetizing masses against the British administration in the hills taking the leadership of the group in her own hands she encouraged the citizens neither to pay taxes nor to work for them.

As she gained tremendous support, magnetizing masses against the British administration in the hills were intimidated and forced to hang his cousin Haipou Jadonang on charges of treason in 1931. Taking the leadership of the group in her own hands she didn’t cowed down to the British and encouraged the citizens neither to pay taxes nor to work f
or them.

The British authorities launched a manhunt for her so much so that monetary awards were put on her head for information to facilitate her arrest. It included a declaration that any villager providing information on her whereabouts will get a 10 years tax break, a huge offer that time. But she continued to fight the Assam Rifles which was under the
British administration in armed conflicts in the region.

Every decree by the state only emboldened her actions further and she continued fighting against the Assam Rifles and in the year 1932 Rani and her supporters were attacked suddenly by a contingent of Assam rifles and arrested while she was sheltered at a fortress being constructed in Pulomi village.

That same year she was arrested with her followers on abetment of murder of a Kuki chowkidar (watchman) of the Lakema Inspection villlages under the suspicions of him being the informer to the British for the arrest. Which led to her life imprisonment by the Political Agent’s court. Her followers were either jailed or executed.

For nearly 14 years, Rani with her late cousin Jadonang) stayed in the jails of Guwahati, Aizawal and Tura motivating many more rebels against the British in refusing to pay taxes.

Watching the valour and courage even Jawahar Lal Nehru met her in 1937 and bestowed her with the title of ‘Rani” as daughter of the hills in 1937 in Shillong Jail. Furthermore he asked British MP Lady Astor to give order to release Rani but the Secretary of State denied the petition citing reasons of tensions may rise in the state.

In the first year of the Interim govt of India Rani Gaidinliu was released from Tura jail after completing 14 years of imprisonment in 1947. In the following decade she continued the works of development for her people settling in her native village Vimrap.

During her imprisonment years Nagaland went through tremendous Christian infiltration and conversion activity which would develop into a Christian state in the next five decades, despite fierce resistance by the Heraka Movement.
Christians knew the Heraka movement was an anti-Christian under the guidance of Rani Gaidinliu so they resented her.

She founded Naga National Council which advocated separation from India, but, however disagreed and demanded for a separate ‘Zeilgrong’ territory within the Union of India. The Naga separatists were antithetical to the idea of revival of the tribal Naga territory of Animism or Heraka as it was popularly known she went underground again in the 1960s, this time to raise an army of a thousand men armed to defend their land, religion, and culture—to put pressure on the govt to recognise a separate Zeliangrong territory.

She established her own quasi-administration and named it the “Zeliangrong Government of the Rani Party” against
Phizos’s “Naga Federal Government.” So in 1964, the popular Zeliangrong leaders, in correspondence with the und
erground leaders led by Rani Gaidinliu, demanded a Zeliangrong Administrative Unit or a political unit within the Union of India.

After more than a half-decade of underground life filled with hardship and conflict with the government, she finally emerged with her supporters in her old age through peaceful negotiations. The demands for a separate Zeliangrong were finalised after she met PM Lal Bahadur Shastri in Delhi in 1966. Some 320 of her followers were absorbed in the Nagaland Armed Police on September 24 after talks with the government.

Rani’s life was a constant struggle against political and religious tyranny, as she faced betrayal from her own people when a relative converted to Christianity. Even today a she’s a disparaged figure in the Naga hierarchy due to her stiff resistance to Christian conversion in the state.

In her lifetime, she was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1982 and Birsa Munda award posthumously in 1993. An inshore patrol vessel too was named after her by the Hindustan Shipyard at Visakhapatnam in 2010.

She died in her birthplace Longkao, where she died on February 17, 1993, at the age of 78.Rani Gaidinliu = Warrior Queen of the hills.

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