INDEPENDENT MOVEMENT AND THE WOMEN OF MANIPUR
-By Sunzu Bachaspatimayum
Just as Prime Minister, Narendra Modi was taken by surprise when he was told that in 1927, a 13 year old tribe girl in the remote hills of North-East India gave a clarion call to fight the British, most Indian would be ignorant of her too.
She is none other than the fearless Gaidinlu from Manipur, who dared the mighty British, calling on the people to oppose them saying, “We are free people, the white men should not rule over us”.
In 2015, the Governmentof India immortalized her indomitable spirit by issuing a commemorative coin. A Birsa Munda Award and a postal stamp in 1996, the Vivekananda Seva Award in 1983, the Padma Bhusan in 1982 and also a Tamrapatra Freedom Fighter Award in 1972 were also bestowed on Gaidinlu.
Born on 26 January 1915 at Nungkao village in Tousem subdivision of Tamenglong District, Manipur, Gaidinlu, at the age of 13, joined the freedom struggle against the British. At the age of 17, Gaidinlu led the Heraka movement against the British.
Heraka movement is the struggle for Independence started by her cousin, Haipou Jadonang to establish self-rule and resist the conversion of Nagas into Christianity. When the British hanged Jadonang to death in 1931, Gaidinlu took over and led many guerilla forces against the British and became a target of the British forces. Gaidinliu described the movement as a movement, “to reform old religious practices in order to ousting the British.”
She persuaded the Zeliangrong people not to pay taxes and not to cooperate with the British. This non-cooperation resistance made the British impose several repressive measures. Gaidinlu’s armed guerillas fought the British in Cachar Hills (16 February 1932) and the Hangrum village (18 March1932).