Peasants and tribal movements in Nagaland
Nagas were once head hunters, as they used to cut off the heads of the enemies and preserve them as trophies. But with the advent of Christianity and education, the Nagas, comprising more than 30 tribes, have evolved a rich culture and tradition. The Naga national movement is the consequence of the intermingling of ethnicity, geography, history and most significantly the indomitable spirit of the Nagas who belong to Mongoloid race under Tibeto-Burman category. They have customs and traditions which are very different from those of the plains people. One of the theoretical paradigms of how an ethnic group becomes a nation is when that group faces a common enemy. This may be said to be true in the case of the Nagas as the emergence of their national movement and simultaneously that of their nation have their moorings in their interaction and contact with the outside world, which is riven with unpleasant exchanges. Oral tradition indicates that the Nagas fought battles with the people of other plains. In order to protect their indigenous culture, they demanded independent homeland for the Nagas.
The Zeliangrong people are one of the major indigenous communities living in the tri-junction of the present states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland in North East India. The Zeliangrongs are the descendants of the same ancestor who founded the great Makuilongdi village, the ‘cradle of Zeliangrong culture’. They have a long history and inherited a rich cultural heritage. They have great love and strong attachment to their ancestral homeland and traversed a long period of history from their ancient days at Makhel, Ramtingkabin, Chawangphuning and Makuilongdi to the present times.
As time passed by the population upsurge and the number of household at Makuilongdi reached up to the extent of 7777 (seven thousands seven hundred and seventy-seven). The dormitory for young boys and girls increased in several numbers because they could not accommodate only in one or two. For many generations they lived together in peace and harmony in Makuilongdi area. However, exodus took place due to various reasons and people began to move out in batches to different directions exploring suitable land for cultivation and settlement.
During the course of their exploration in the virgin lands the Zeliangrong settlements spread in different ranges and extended up to the border areas of Assam Valley in the west and to the confines of Lushai Hills in the southern areas. Some sections of the Zeliangrong who were not willing to join the exodus stayed back and still today many Zeliangrong settlements including Makuilongdi are found in Senapati district of the present State of Manipur. Since their exploration and settlements they had been living without any external interferences. However, in due course of time they faced aggressions from other neighbours like the Meiteis and Cacharis and yet they had always defended and protected their territory, their way of life, their religion and culture.
Meanwhile, the British colonial power also started penetrating into the Zeliangrong inhabited areas by the first half of the 19th century. By this time the hordes of Kuki migrants had also started coming into southern Zeliangrong areas which caused lots of conflicts and bloodshed. The Meitei rulers in collaboration with the British authorities started using the Kukis as buffer tribes and planted them deep into Naga areas. Consequently, a large portion of Zeliangrong traditional territories in the southern areas were lost out to the Kukis. The presence of outsiders disrupted the peaceful existence of the indigenous settlers and prompted social tension between different communities.
Moreover, in the second half of the 19th century, the British colonial power divided the Zeliangrong people and their land and placed them under Assam and Manipur for their administrative conveniences without the consent of Zeliangrong people. Later, Independent India continues the old policy of the colonial power by further dividing the Zeliangrong people and put some of them under Nagaland. These actions of the colonial power and Government of India have made the Zeliangrong people peripheral appendages to these three political entities – Assam, Manipur and Nagaland. However, the present compact and contiguous geographical settings occupied by the Zeliangrong people is approximately 12,581(twelve thousand five hundred eighty-one) sq. km. with a total population of about 450000 (four lakhs fifty thousand) according to 2011 census.
When Haipou Jadonang grew up he witnessed all these upheavals, exploitations and deplorable conditions of his people. He was also told of the suppression and mayhem inflicted on his people by other neighboring communities. Taking cognizance of all these pathetic conditions he started thinking of getting justice for his people. It is also pertinent to mention that the Zeliangrongs’ assertion to defend their democratic village-republics, land and people from the aggressions of the neighboring communities and the British was already there even before Haipou Jadonang came into the picture.
Haipou Jadonang raised the famous slogan, ‘Makaammei rui Gwangtupuni’ meaning, the kingdom of Nagas shall reign. He raised this slogan in the backdrop of the British occupation of the Naga country. He started mobilizing the Zeliangrong Nagas to unite so that the oppressive colonial regime could be put to an end. Haipou Jadonang prophesized to the Naga people that the British regime will come to an end soon and that the Naga people will rule over their own country. He campaigned against house tax, other exploitative systems imposed by the British and was also deadly against the interference to the socio-religious and cultural lives of the Naga people.
Haipou Jadonang used the socio-religious platform to motivate the Zeliangrong Nagas to come out and fight against the mighty British Empire. Haipou Jadonang once said that the Meiteis and the Indians have their own kings and he opined that Makaam people should also have their own king. He further said that the whitemen and Makaam people are all human beings and we should not be afraid of them. According to him all men are equal and the Makaam people are also blessed community. The days for Makaam people have come and with the grace of God the Makaam people can become kings.The implicit meaning of Jadonang’s slogan is that no other people should rule over the Makaam people but they will rule over themselves.Final Destination for Nagaland PSC Notes and Tests, Exclusive coverage of NPSC Prelims and Mains Syllabus, Dedicated Staff and guidence for NPSC NPSC Notes brings Prelims and Mains programs for NPSC Prelims and NPSC Mains Exam preparation. Various Programs initiated by NPSC Notes are as follows:-
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