Rani Gaidinliu was one of the active participants in the fight for freedom from British rule in India. Born in Longkao village of Manipur She joined freedom struggle at the age of 13. She led a socio-political movement to drive out the British from Manipur and Naga areas. She was arrested in 1932 at the age of 16 and imprisoned for life. She was freed in 1947 after India gained freedom. After her release she continued to work for the uplift of her people. She organised a resistance movement against the Naga National Council (NNC)-led insurgents in 1966 and had to go underground. She was honoured as a freedom fighter and was also awarded a Padma Bhushan. Rani Gaidinliu died in 1993. The Government of India issued a postal stamp in her memory. Born on 26 January, 1915 at Longkao Village in the present Tousem Sub-division Tamenglong District, Manipur (NH-53), Rani Gaidinliu was a charismatic girl even at her tender age. Her father Lothonang Pamei and mother Kachaklenliu saw their surely little daughter Gaidinliu as peculiar and different from among their other children. She was the 5th among her six sisters and a younger brother. At the age of 13, Gaidinliu became restive and her mind was tormented as she saw the prevailing social and political condition in the western hills of Manipur under the British Regime. At this juncture, she came to meet Haipou Jadonang at Puilon (Kambiron) Village of the present Nungba Sub-division, Tamenglong District who had now emerged as the undisputed leader in the area. Influenced by the ideology and undaunted determination she became the principal follower of Haipou Jadonang that in 1927 the revolutionary movement against the British rule was started. The revolutionary movement of the western hills of Manipur popularly known by historians as Naga Raj movement received a great momentum when 100 guns were brought from Cachar, Assam and propagation was made to boycott British taxation and forced labor. But as the movement gained a zenith height to strike, Haipou Jodonang was arrested and subsequently hanged on 29 August, 1931 at Imphal jail by the Britishers. The mantle fell on Gaidinliu to lead and continue the revolution. She went underground along with her followers. A fierce gun fighting took place at Hangrum village in the north Cachar hills with the British army and the big village was later set ablaze by the colonial soldiers. A prolonged and hot pursue took place and Rs. 500/- reward was announced for information leading to her arrest. Her people in Manipur, Cachar, North Cachar and Naga Hills of Assam stood firm behind her. Unfortunately, she was arrested from Poilwa (Pulomi) Village (present Nagaland) on 17 October, 1932 by the British Army led by Captain Mac Donald. It was said that she bit the hand of a commander who tried to arrest her by which injury and pain the captor left her but after a much struggle she was finally arrested. She did not yield to the might of her captors. On seeing her on handcuff, an old man sitting at Khonoma ridiculed soldiers why a mere woman was handcuffed and asked them to take off the same as so many men could have controlled her but Cap. Mac Donald shouted “Chup/silence”. Annoyed and angry the old man pelted stones and injured some soldiers who were marching across the village on the way to Kohima. He was arrested and later released. J.C. Higgins, Political Agent of Manipur received the brave girl as extradited by J.P. Mills, D.C. Kohima. Gaidinliu was transported for life imprisonment for waging war against the British crown. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru met her at Shillong Jail in 1937 and with great sympathy he promised to pursue her release. Pandit's statement was published in the Hindustan Times in which he described Gaidinliu as the daughter of the Hills and gave her the title of “Rani Gaidinliu” or Rani of her people. He compared her with Joan-de Arc of France and Rani Luxmi Bai of Jhansi. Pt. Nehru also wrote to Lady Aston, M.P. in London to do something for the release of Rani Gaidinliu but the Secretary to the British India Govt. flatly rejected her request stating that trouble may rise again if Rani was released. Lady Aston replied to Nehru with regret. When India became free, Rani Gaidinliu was released on P.M. Nehru's order from Tura jail on 14-10-1947 after serving the prison term of 14 years in various jails in Guwahati, Aizawl, Tura, Shillong and elsewhere. She was however not allowed to return home at her native village in Manipur that she stayed at Vimrap Village of Tuensang with her younger brother Marang till 1952. It was a tearful re-union of sister and brother when they could not communicate well in their mother tongue at that time. (Due to long separation of nearly 2 decades). When Rani Gaidinliu was at her native Longkao Village in Manipur, she could not tolerate the threat to her life and religion “Heraka” posed by the Baptist based NNC movement. She went underground once again in 1960 along with her 400 followers and soldiers called “Kampai”. Many of her followers were killed at Man-du (Bandu) village near Tousem during a long encounter with NNC soldiers that she had to hide at Magulong cave near Barak (Agu) bank for 3 years. She came overground in 1966 under an agreement with the Govt. of India. During her stay at Kohima, she was conferred “Tamrapatra Freedom Fighter Award” in 1972, Padma Bhushan (1981), Vivekananda Seva Award (1983) and she returned to Longkao (Nungao) in 1991 till she died on 17 February 1993 at the age of 78. The Governor of Manipur, His Excellency Chintamani Panigrahi, Home Secretary of Nagaland, Officials of Manipur and many people from all parts of the North Eastern region attended her funeral function at her native village on 29.2.1993. At Imphal, the Chief Minister of Manipur R.K. Dorendro Singh, Deputy Chief Minister, Rishang Keishing and many people paid floral tributes and a general holiday was declared by the State Government. Rani Gaidinliu was also conferred “Birsa Munda Award” Posthumously. She was an outstanding lady of Political, Social, Religious and humanitarian dimensions. She worked for the unity of her people and to find a dignified homeland through peaceful means of democracy. Rani Gaidinliu was great socio-religious leader and Veteran Freedom Fighter. She was considered a living Goddess, a legendary figure and a revered mother symbol of the oppressed people.
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