Cheers guys! It’s Independence Day, and lets enjoy it. I can recall my elementary days at school with a vague idea of the day. Excited that we will be skipping from our daily classes and punishments, we used to be thrilled as we eagerly awaited the arrival of this day. There were no Independence Day parades in schools or any kind of function in those days. Situated at the extreme corner of the country, the people of Northeastern states are a pity on this glorious day, as boycott calls generally mark it. And I, as a humble citizen, personally feel saddened on seeing the disparity of celebrations.
However, gradually, people across the regions have begun to join celebrations with the rest of the country, defying the ban called by the different outfits. But sadly enough, neither the parades nor the functions are held here with peace, as fear and tragedy looms large. Schools, colleges and shops are often shut down.
I remember my parents asking me not to step out of the house on this day, fearing violence. Alas! Many innocent people lost their lives as blasts would often rock the region.
However, the mode of celebrations in the national capital was a different experience for me, as I witnessed flag hoisting ceremonies, parades from the schools, and various cultural programmes.
Nevertheless, there is more to be relished despite the prevailing situations in the trouble-torn northeastern region as we look back to the past.
There is a general perception that northeastern states are a mere hub for insurgencies, and people have little idea or not at all about the contribution of the Nagas in the country’s freedom struggle. Rani Gaidinliu was one of those active participants, who answered Gandhiji’s call during the Civil Disobedience Movement in 1930s and took up cudgels against the British forces on behalf of the people of these regions.
Born on 26th January, 1915 at Lonkao (Nungao) village in Tamenglong district of Manipur, Rani Gaidinliu, popularly known as `Rani Ma`, was a charismatic girl even at her tender age. Witnessing the prevailing social and political condition in the Western hills of Manipur, at the age of 13, she formed Naga army and went underground to challenge the British Empire. Unfortunately, the British Army arrested her from Poilwa (Pulomi) village (present Nagaland) on 17th October, 1932, and was declared as ``terror of Northeast``. The British government awarded her life sentence.
Pt. Nehru depicted her as the Daughter of the Hills and gave her the title of ``Rani Gaidinliu`` or Rani of her people. When Nehru wrote to Lady Aston, MP in London for her release, the Secretary of the British India government flatly refused. Rani Gaidinliu was freed only after India got Independence, and at PM Nehru `s behest. She was released from Tura jail on October 14, 1947 after serving the prison term of 14 years in various jails in the northeastern region.
She was an epitome of patriotism not only for the Nagas but also for the people from different parts of the northeastern region, who draw inspiration from this daughter of Mother India. Rani Gaidinliu was conferred Tamrapatra Freedom Fighter Award in 1972, Padma Bhushan (1981), Vivekananda Seva Award (1983) and she returned to Lungkao (Nungao) village in 1991 till she passed away on 17th Feb, 1993 at the ripe age of 78.
Although Rani is no more, her legacy is still prevalent in different parts of the northeastern region. I would rather like to think on this day, as to how to pay a tribute to her. Celebrating the day openly in all parts of the country would not only recompense the loss of my childhood that I still realize while watching the children’s parades in the national capital, it will also perhaps be a real salute to Rani Gaidinliu.