“We are free people, the white men should not rule over us....”
This was Rani Gaidinliu’s call to the ethnic Naga tribes from remote hills of North Eastern region that too when she was only 13 years old. Today, her struggle is lost in history as most of us wouldn't even have heard her name.
Gaidinliu belonged to the Rongmei clan of the Zeliangrong tribe in the Tamenglong district of western Manipur, born on January 26, 1915.
In the beginning, Rani Gaidinliu joined the Heraka (pure) religious movement. Later it turned into a political movement seeking to drive out the British from Manipur and the surrounding Naga areas. Within the Heraka cult, she came to be considered an incarnation of a goddess.
Gaidinliu become a strong force in the Heraka movement, leading guerrilla attacks on the British authority.
At 16, this valiant girl was sentenced to life imprisonment for leading a movement to drive out the colonial rulers from Manipur and Nagaland. Nevertheless, she was released in 1947 after India’s independence and was given the title of ‘Rani’ by the then-prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.
In the Northeast, Rani Gaidinliu was first the leader of her own people. Even after her release, she worked to empower and uplift the weak.
Postal Department has released commemorative postal stamp honouring her in 1996.
In 2015 Prime Minister Shree Narendra Modi released commemorative coin of hundred rupees and circulation coin of five rupees on Rani Gaidinliu to mark her birth centenary celebrations.
Today, let us all remember Rani Gaidinliu for her indomitable spirit and for the freedom that she fought for so valiantly. Let us all be brave. Let us all be fighters. Just like Rani Gaidinliu.