Rani Gaidinliu whose unbelievable story of struggle and sacrifice from the North east for the cause of freedom struggle as well as for her Naga tribal culture & identity went unnoticed for the left historians occupying a position of prominence in Delhi. Who was she?
A story of Perseverance and humane dignity should have been held for highest reward. She struggled against British and then against orthodox missionary for protection of Naga culture. No wonder, why traditional Naga holds her with divine reverence and spiritual motivation?
Rani Gaidinliu, Born on 26th January in 1915, at Nungkao, a Rongmei village in Manipur has had her troubled childhood. At an early age of 13, she joined a religious movement called the Heraka movement demanding a right to rule for Naga. It was a religious movement and a fight for the purity and protection of Naga culture under the leadership of Haipou Jadonang. These were the days when missionaries started infiltrating the north east under the protection of British government.
She was spiritually conscious and amazingly matured for her Naga Tribal identity.
Missionary conspired to eliminate her. They complained about her and about the tribal resistance against the missionary activities. In a surreptitious assault, British trapped, arrested her younger brother and executed the small boy.
The bereaved Rani Gaidinliu emerged from the pain of this tragic loss and built a regular guerrilla band of army. She decided, expelling British and banished Missionaries from the Tribal land is her ultimate goal of life. She used the mountainous terrain to her advantage and led numerous raids on moving British establishments. She persuaded and encouraged people not to pay taxes to British and asked them to refuse any institutional association. In 1931, her spiritual mentor Haipou Jadonang was martyred. Undeterred from this strategic loss of leadership, she took up the reign of command of her Heraka movement. Her reputation and valor in the region became folklore. The tribal community were looking up to her as their savior. She was able to halt the infiltration of the Missionary in the hill successfully.
However in one strategic error when she was building a fortress for forward movement, she descended too low to plain. It was disadvantageous terrain for Naga and British were able to arrest her swiftly. She was tortured and sent to jail. She stayed in jail for 14 years and could get relief of freedom only after India attained independence.
Post-Independence – Struggle for Nagaland.
When she arrived after being released, she was dismayed to see active missionaries in her region. The innocent gullible poor Naga were lured to shun their age old culture and accept an alien belief.
Fire within her, had not subsided as yet. She remained committed to her original ideologue Haipou Jadonang and decided to fight for the customs, tradition and belief of Naga people within the United India.
Many missionaries then and thereafter conspired to malign her struggle for traditional belief by writing reams of paper about insurgency in the northeast.
But the factRani ma consistently opposed those Naga groups advocating separation from India. According to her, such a demand was neither justifiable nor desirable. She was threatened by secessionist forces as well from missionary. The danger to her life was so obvious that she had to move into an anonymous location.
Struggle for Protection of Tribal Culture from Christianity
Rani Gaidinliu could see and anticipate the expanding danger to Naga tradition from missionaries. Now missionaries were making direct assaults on the indigenous culture. While she was in jail for 14 years under British Raj, the Missionary had been able to deceitfully lure the innocent Naga and convert them into Christian belief. Given the reason, foreign funded as well as ancillary to power centers, missionaries were far stronger then Rani Gaidinliu.
She felt the urgency of raising another military command to confront these touts. Under-resourced from both warrior and armory, it became easier for her opponent to challenge. Those days the insurgent among a section of Naga was utilized by her opponent to eliminate her as well. The local missionary played a pernicious identity politics by dividing all the sixteen tribes residing in that vicinity.
Such was the missionary conspiracy against her that she had to hide in obscurity for six years from 1960 to 66.
Rani Gaidinliu was fighting a losing battle where her own tribal society was slowly deserting their traditional beliefs. Yet she never blinked for a while in her lifetime. She fought for Naga identity and was able to extract a beautiful state Nagaland under Union territory. On December 1st, 1963, Nagaland was inaugurated as the sixteenth state of the Indian Union.
Missionary specially Baptist throughout life conspired to malign, oppose and conspired against the Heraka revival movement. As it was a big obstacle in their conversion business. Ageing and lifelong struggle had enervated her stamina. She finally set for heavenly abode in 1993 at the age of 78.
The Government of India awarded her Padma Bhushan, conferred her with the Birsa Munda Award posthumously, and issued a postal stamp in 1996 in her honor.
Rani Gaidinliu will be remembered for her lifelong struggle against the Baptist missionary for the protection of tradition of Naga Society.
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