“We are free people, the white men should not rule over us….” – Rani Gaindinliu⁣

Gaidinliu was a Naga spiritual and political leader who led a revolt against British rule in India. At the age of 13, she joined the Heraka religious movement of her cousin Haipou Jadonang. ⁣

She was born on 26 January 1915 at Nungkao village in Tamenglong District, Manipur. Her family belonged to the ruling clan of the village. She did not have a formal education due to the lack of schools in the area.⁣

At the age of 13, Gaidinliu joined the Heraka movement of her cousin Haipou Jadonang, who had emerged as a prominent local leader. Jadonang’s movement was a revival of the Naga tribal religion. It also aimed to end the British rule and establish the self-rule of the Nagas (Naga Raj).⁣

The movement later turned into a political movement seeking to drive out the British from Manipur and the surrounding Naga areas.⁣

Gaidinliu identified her people’s struggle with the wider Indian freedom struggle. For her, the Naga people’s journey to freedom was part of India’s wider movement for freedom. She also spread the message of Gandhi ji in Manipur region.⁣

On October 17, 1932, the British forces launched a surprise attack on the village, and Gaidinliu and her followers were arrested without any resistance. she was sentenced to life imprisonment by the British rulers. ⁣

Jawaharlal Nehru met her at Shillong Jail in 1937, and promised to pursue her release. Nehru gave her the title of “Rani” (“Queen”), and she gained local popularity as Rani Gaidinliu.⁣

After 14 years in prison, Gaidinliu was released in 1947 on the orders of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. She continued to work for the upliftment of her people. ⁣

An advocate of the ancestral Naga religious practices, she staunchly resisted the conversion of Nagas to Christianity. ⁣

Amidst all the resistance and criticism from the Naga groups, Rani Gaidinliu was awarded the Tamrapatra Freedom Fighter Award in 1972, the Padma Bhushan (1982) and the Vivekananda Seva Award (1983). She was also conferred the Birsa Munda Award posthumously. ⁣

She died on 17 February 1993 at the age of 78.⁣