Rani Gaidinliu, the Naga spiritual and political leader who led an armed rebellion against the British passed away on 17 February 1993 at Longkao, Manipur. Read more about this inspiring freedom fighter’s role and her contributions for the revival of ancient Naga Tribal religion, her steadfastness to remain committed to the Union of India despite secessionists movements, and a host of awards bestowed on her by the Government for her services.
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Rani Gaidinliu – Freedom Fighter Belonging to Naga Tribe
- Gaidinliu was born on January 26, 1915, at Nungkao, Manipur to Lothonang Pamei and Kachaklenliu. She belonged to the Rongmei tribe, which is a major Naga tribe.
- Because of the lack of schools in the area, Gaidinliu did not get a formal education.
- At the tender age of 13, she joined her cousin Haipou Jadonang’s Heraka movement. The Heraka movement was a spiritual movement dedicated to reviving the ancient Naga tribal religion. Soon, it evolved into a political movement fighting the British to establish a Naga Raj in the area. The movement had a large number of adherents from the Zeliangrong tribes (which comprised the Rongmei, Zeme and the Liangmai tribes).
- Gaidinliu emerged as a leader of the guerrilla forces fighting the British at the young age of 16.
- She proclaimed, “We are free people, the white men should not rule over us….”
- In 1931, the British arrested and hanged Jadonang. After this, Gaidinliu led the Heraka movement.
- The movement exhorted the people not to pay taxes and submit to the foreigners. She was also against the Christian missionaries and wanted a revival of the tribal religions.
- The government started a massive search operation to arrest her.
- Financial rewards including a 10-year tax break were announced for any information that would lead to her arrest. But Gaidinliu evaded the police and engaged in rebellion.
- But in 1932, she was arrested by the British and sentenced to life imprisonment. Many of her associates were either given similar sentences or executed.
- She then served time from 1933 to 1947 in various jails. In 1937, she was met by Jawaharlal Nehru who promised to help her get freedom. He wrote to a British MP asking for Gaidinliu’s release. It was at that time that she was given the title ‘Rani’ by Nehru.
- After India achieved independence, Rani Gaidinliu was released from prison. She was resolved to work for the development of the Zeliangrong people.
- She was against the Naga National Council which was engaged in a secessionist movement. She wanted a separate Zeliangrong territory very much within the Indian Union.
- She also campaigned for a revival of the Naga tribal religion. For this reason, she was opposed by many Nagas themselves who by the 60s had converted to Christianity.
- She lived 6 years in the underground fighting the Naga insurgents and in 1966, pursuant to an agreement with the Indian government, she came out of hiding. She then started working through peaceful and democratic means for a separate Zeliangrong administrative unit.
- She was awarded the Tamrapatra Freedom Fighter Award in 1972; the Padma Bhushan in 1982 and the Vivekananda Seva Award in 1983.
- She returned to her native place in 1991 and passed away in 1993 aged 78. She was awarded the Birsa Munda award posthumously.
- Her legacy among the Naga nationalists is ambiguous because of her perceived closeness to the Indian government. However, her bravery, sacrifice and patriotism cannot be questioned since she had led the fight for freedom from foreign rule as a mere thirteen-year-old.
Also on this day
1883: Death of freedom fighter Vasudeo Balwant Phadke at a prison at Aden.
1907: Death of Henry Olcott, co-founder of the Theosophical Society along with Annie Besant.
1976: The Urban Ceilings Act came into force.
1986: Death of Jiddu Krishnamurti, writer, orator and philosopher.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.
The above details would help candidates prepare for UPSC 2022.