IMPHAL, Aug 24 - Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh today conveyed his sincere appreciation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Ministry of Culture for the function organised to celebrate the birth centenary of Rani Gaidinliu�s, a leader from Manipur who had played an important role in the Freedom Movement of India.
He elaborated that Gaidinliu was a Naga leader who led a revolt against British rule in India. In 1927, at the age of 13, she joined the Heraka religious movement which later turned into a political movement to drive out the British. Within the Heraka cult, she came to be considered as an incarnation of Goddess Cherachamdinliu. With the arrival of guns from Cachar, it turned into an armed rebellion against the British policies of forced labour and ruthless oppression.
By the age of 16, she became a leader of guerrilla forces fighting against the British. Manipur Chief Minister narrated that Gaidinliu openly rebelled against the British rule, exhorting the Zeliangrong people not to pay taxes.
The British authorities launched a manhunt for her. She evaded arrest, moving from village to village in what are now Assam, Nagaland and Manipur. The Governor of Assam, British India dispatched the 3rd and 4th battalions of the Assam Rifles against her, under the supervision of the Naga Hills DC JP Mills. Monetary rewards were declared for information leading to her arrest. This included a declaration that any village providing information on her whereabouts will get a 10-year tax break.
Her forces engaged the Assam Rifles in armed conflicts in the North Cachar Hill and Hangrum village in 1932. In October 1932, Gaidinliu moved to Pulomi village, where her followers started building a wooden fortress. An Assam Rifles contingent headed by Captain MacDonald launched a surprise attack on the village on October 17, 1932 and captured Gaidinliu, along with her followers. She was taken to Imphal, where she was convicted on the charges of murder after a 10-month trial.
She was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Political Agent�s Court. From 1933 to 1947 she served jail term at Gauhati, Shillong, Aizawl and Tura jails, he added.
First Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru met her at Shillong Jail in 1937 and described Gaidinliu as a daughter of the hills. He also gave her the title �Rani� or Queen of her people. Nehru wrote to British MP Lady Astor to do the needful for the release of Rani Gaidinliu but the Secretary of State for India rejected her request stating that trouble may arise again if Rani was released.
She was released in 1947 after India�s independence, and continued to work for the upliftment of her people. She was honoured as a freedom fighter and was awarded Padma Bhushan by the Government of India in 1982. In 1991, Gaidinliu returned to her birthplace Langkao, where she spent her last days, Ibobi added.