Rani Gaidinliu : The Iconic Woman From North East

“I heard a story which India ought to know and cherish… She dreamt of freedom for her people… What torment and suppression of spirit they have brought to her, who in the prime of her youth dared to challenged an empire…”  PANDIT JAWAHARLAL NEHRU

Rani Gaidinliu also known as “Rani Maa” is the spiritual and political leader of the Zeliangrong Nagas. She was a fearless freedom  fighter of India who revolted against the       British Colonial in Manipur and Naga regions. Born on 26 January,1915 at Nungkao (Lungkao) village of Tamenglong district, Manipur. Gaidinliu belongs to the  Rongmei Naga tribe (also known as Kabui). Her father name was Lothonang Pamei and her mother was Karotlienliu Pamei. Gaidinliu means – “a girl who is a harbinger of  good news”.
     While she was just 13 years old, this charismatic young girl asked the Zeliangrong people not to pay taxes to the British government. Swayed away by the ideas and principles of local leader Haipou Jadonang, she launched the revolutionary movement against the British rule in 1927. They aimed to end British rule and to drive them away from Manipur and Nagas areas. She was undoubtedly not only brave to fight against the mighty British Empire but she was intelligent beyond measure. She never got a formal education as there were no school in their areas nor in Tamenglong during that time. In 1931, Haipou Jadonang was arrested and put to death by the British. Gaidinliu emerged  as his spiritual and political heir.
Rani Gaidinliu    In 1932, at the age of 16 she was arrested by the British authorities and was put behind the bars for life. From 1933 to 1947, she served time at the Guwahati, Shillong, Aizwal and Tura jails. Jawaharlal Nehru met her at Shillong jail in 1937 and he promised to pursue her release. He describe Gaidinliu as “The Daughter of the Hills” and gave her away with the tittle “Rani” or Queen of her people. And that is how she became popularly known as “Rani Gaidinliu”. She was freed after 14 years when India got Independence in 1947. She however continued to work for the upliftment of her people after her released. In the history of India, Rani Gaidinliu was the lone freedom fighter who was imprisoned for the longest term. Both Jadonang and Rani Gaidinliu, uphold Gandhi philosophy of non-violence even though they never got a chance to meet him. Rani Gaidinliu also spread the message of Gandhijii in the Manipur region.
      Rani Gaidinliu struggle and her integrity marked her out as a figure we should all learn from. She is and was an inspiration to many women by becoming a “reference point” of empowered woman. Traditionally, the Zeliangrong Nagas have a patriarchal social structure. But she was a woman who believes in equality of men and women in terms of  social, political and economical rights. She was always independent, determined and courageous by nature. When Dr Rajendra Prasad visited Manipur in 1954, he met her at Imphal. She expired on 17th February, 1993 at her birthplace.
      She was honoured by Freedom Fighter Tamrapatra (1972), Padma Bhusan (1982), Vivekananda Sewa Samman (1983), Birsa Munda Award (1996), Postal Stamp (1996).
      Government of India  instituted Stree Shakti Puruskar in honour of five eminent women in Indian History  which included Rani Gaidinliu (2000). The Hindustan shipyard Ltd. launched an in-shore patrol vessel name Rani Gaidinliu for the Indian coast guard at Vishapatnam, 6th November, 2010. In her memorial a Centenary meusem was set up in Nagaland in 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also issued commemorative coin of one hundred rupees and circulation coin of five rupees on Rani Gaidinliu.
         Lastly, if one knows Jhansi Ki Rani, one ought to know Rani Gaidinliu. For she lived and died for this country.