The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

manuscript notes made by W.G. Archer between 1946 & 1948, and miscellaneous papers and letters

caption: murders in the Trans-frontier region
caption: annexation
medium: notes
person: McCabeDavisPorteous
ethnicgroup: LhotaAo
location: Mokokchung Mozung Dikhu R. Yachumi Mozungjami Kamahu Yazim Aichisagami
date: 1884-1903
person: Reid/ W.J.WilliamsonArcher/ W.G.
date: 27.9.19051946-1948
refnum: 13:1
text: 8. If it is admitted that the present state of affairs should be altered the next question is how this can be effected. Mr Williamson's remedy is annexation. This of course is no new idea. So far back as 1884 Mr McCabe wrote: "If Government desires honestly to civilise the tribes on this frontier, the only way is to gradually advance our outposts, and bring the people into direct communication with Kohima."
text: Since then the advance has been very great. In 1886 the area of political control was defined, and the Deputy Commissioner was empowered to settle inter-tribal disputes therein. In 1889 the Mokokchung subdivision was taken out from this, and last year the remaining portion of the old control area, together with a strip of territory to the east of it, was formally incorporated in the district. This was done without the slightest difficulty. For some years the only difference between the control area and other parts of the district has been that the inhabitants of the former, rather to their surprise, were not called upon to pay house-tax. The whole history of our tenure of the Naga Hills has been a gradual but reluctant extension of our borders. As each new stage is reached it had been definitely stated that our responsibilities have certain definite limits. It has invariably been found impossible to adhere to these. I find that in 1884 the Chief Commissioner recorded:
text: "The murder seems to have been cold-blooded and unprovoked, and as the village is only just across the border, it is necessary to read it a lesson, unless we are prepared to admit that our people can never safely cross the border, even for the shortest distance."
text: This refered to the murder of one of our Lhotas by men of an independent Ao village, the murder having been committed across the border. Shortly after this the system of "promenades" began, Mr McCabe carrying out one of the earliest in 1885. He was compelled by force of circumstances to go beyond the limits of interference prescribed, and it seems originally to have been intended that our occupation of the control area was to be by means of an extension and systemisation of these promenades. It was at first laid down by the Chief Commissioner that "the Deputy Commissioner should in no case interfere in disputes between tribes residing within and the tribes residing outside the area of control, even though such disputes may have resulted in murder either without or within such area." In 1888 however I find recorded:
text: "The Chief Commissioner had no hesitation whatever in saying that if the present political control system is to be maintained, it must be with the obligation of defending the area of political control against aggression from without." Mr Davis in his note of 3rd August 1903, which I have been privileged to see, says:
text: "As a result of the Mozung expedition (1889) and Mr Porteous' subsequent tours to trans-Dikhu villages north of the Mozung area, the exposed frontier line of the subdivision was made safe, and intertribal warfare among the villages immediately across the border practically ceased.
text: This satisfactory state of affairs, Mr Davis points out, lasted until 1892, when the trans-frontier villages, being unable to understand our non-interference policy, began to show signs of unrest. In that year Mr Davis was allowed to make a tour through the villages just across the Dikhu, as a preliminary to a formal extension of the political control system. The orders of Mr Davis that inter-village raiding should cease were listened to, and for some considerable time obeyed. After Mr Davis left the Naga Hills the idea of extending the political control system was dropped.
text: "Promenades" across the frontier were continued until 1900, but apparently the only object of these was to show ourselves to our independent neighbours, and prevent their molestating our subjects. My records are very imperfect, but Mr Williamson, who took part in the last promenade, says that no notice was taken of inter-village quarrels. I agree with him in thinking that the orders passed after the Yachumi case in 1900 are not responsible for the present condition of trans-frontier affairs. So far as the feuds of independent villages are concerned our change in policy dates back to 1892. At the same time I cannot but think with Mr Williamson that, had the system of "promenades" even in its latest and least interfering form been continued, the events, which led up to the recent Mozunyjami expedition, and the other two outrages he mentions, would never have occured. To these I would add the slaughter of Kamahu fugitives on our side of the Dikhu by Yazim, and the recent murder of the Aichisagami trader.