The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

typescript - J.H. Hutton's tour diary in the Naga Hills

caption: Problems of drainage, religious conflict, taxes and coolies' pay at Dimapur
medium: tours
person: Ram Khilawan
location: Dimapur Darogapathar
date: 17.6.1922
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 15.6.1922-7.7.1922
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 17th
text: Halted Dimapur. A very busy day. Before breakfast I went round the Fuller ganj bazar. I observe that the well that was being made by the P.W.D. is closed down. Drinking water is very badly needed and I think that as the well had been worked at or played with for five years or so they might have done something with it in the end. The greatest need in the bazar after water, is good drainage, and whatever I can do this year will be put into extending the pukka drains, but of course the jungle clearing etc., will have to be done as usual, and I gave orders for it. It is the P.W.D.'s business to clear the nullas at the side of the cart-road, I think I see that there are three or four earth banks across the nulla on the opposite side to the old fort, and these banks obstruct the flow of water which must remain stagnant in the nulla now. The P.W.D. are quick enough to claim the jack fruit that grows within 75 feet of the centre of the road, but regard their other duties within it with less enthusiasm. Close to the line and on railway land there are two khals or more full of stagnant water. They would be much better filled up. I wonder if the A.B.R. would agree to bring down a couple of truck loads of mati or ashes or something of the sort and fill them up. It would be much healthier for their people.
text: After breakfast I went out to Darogapathar to hear a case brought by the Garo ancients there against the Christians who had cut down their puja erections. They could not say who had done it on this occasion, but they demonstrated that on previous occasions it was the Christians and I have not the least doubt that it was the Christians again this time.
text: There are three Christians in the ancient quarter of the village south-west of the cart road - recent converts. The other Christians have a location of their own on the north-east side. Of the 3 Christians among the ancients one is an old acquaintance of mine and a very decent fellow. He used to be a havildar in the 3rd Assam Rifles and I explained that it would be with great reluctance that I should turn him out and make him go across the road, as everyone admitted that it was certainly not he who did the horrid deed, but if these religious quarrels go on there will be nothing for it but to separate the Christians from the ancients entirely and forbid their going to each other's villages at all. I wonder why it is that it is so often the least pleasant of the community who turn Christians first. I suppose they stand in greater need of salvation. With the exception of one or two of the older men - ex-sepoys - the Garo Christians of Darogapathar struck me as a most unsatisfactory selection compared to the ancients. Having talked to the Garo Christians, I went and inspected the Thana, quite the coolest place in Dimapur, as the Dak Bungalow is the hottest.
text: After lunch I spent the afternoon hearing a case - a regular plains case with the witnesses of each side flatly contradicting the other, and everyone in the room perfectly well aware of what really happened except the Magistrate, who of course never found out. Then I dealt with miscellaneous revenue cases, which carried on until dark.
text: Several rather difficult questions came up. The Mauzadar is levying taxes from foreigners at Rs 5/- each in accordance with his orders. But many foreigners come to Dimapur to work for a short time and then go away. The practice is to realise the tax from the employee. When the employer refuses to pay and takes up the attitude that he has paid his tax, what is one to do? The real payee has moved away (probably having come for the cold weather only) and cannot be found. I have issued Kraki warrants on the employers but I am rather doubtful of the legality of it. Also I don't feel certain that it will pay to make the tax on coolies cart-men etc., who do not live in Dimapur permanently too high, and feel rather inclined to make it Rs 3/- only for persons who remain from 3 to 9 months, and have no house of their own. The Mauzadar, however, disagrees, and says wages in Dimapur are very high and that Rs 5/- is by no means too much. On the other hand if it is true that wages are exceptionally high, it suggests that labour is particularly hard to get, and may easily be choked off coming.
text: The question also arose as to the railway coolies. Rs 40/- plus Rs 1/- process was claimed by the Mauzadar as revenue for eight coolies from the railway cooly contractor. The contractor lives outside railway land and the coolies live partly on partly off. The Station Master claims that if these coolies are taxed at all he will be able to get no coolies to handle goods, and that the so-called contractor is not really a contractor, but a coolie sardar, virtually in the employ of the railway and that both he and the coolies are really employed by the Station Master, as he, the Station Master, is the real contractor and gets paid on the commission system for the goods handled. It is also said that to avoid the tax the coolies are in future to be housed on Railway land. It is certainly the case that persons living on railway land do not usually pay any taxes to the Mauzadar, but I really do not know why they should be exempt, and I fancy they have no valid claim to exemption. Anyway, in this particular case, three of the coolies are householders and pay separately. Of the remaining five, three appear to live, or to be able to live, on railway land, leaving two who certainly do not. What is more important perhaps is that the proposed lines for the coolies will, if they are really to be erected in the spot pointed out to me, entirely block the front of an existing dwelling just off the railway land. The front of this dwelling is a few feet from the boundary and parallel to it. They tell me the proposed lines are to be almost along the boundary parallel to the front of Ram Khilawan's house and back towards it, thus shutting out both light, air and access. If it is so I presume the railway will alter the plans, otherwise I fancy their lines would give valid grounds for action.
text: In the evening the sweepers came up and complained that they could not live on their pay - Rs 14/- also that there was great delay in payments. This last was a genuine grievance, and their living has cost them more as they could not pay cash and have now run up debts, but ordinarily I think Rs 14/- ought to be enough. They have been on the verge of striking once, however, and one has just resigned. Rice is Rs 6/4/- (cash) and 4 seers the rupee (credit) at present; it would be interesting to know how the pay of the Municipal sweepers in, say, Silchar and Golaghat compare with those in Dimapur and also how the prices of food stuffs compare.
text: The Mauzadar and Overseer wish to engage a gang of coolies by the year to keep the Town clear of jungle etc., instead of giving out contracts for jungle clearing. They say it would be a positive saving and I told them to make out a case for it by comparisons of the probable cost with the actuals of jungle clearing in recent years. I expect the real reason is that when not employed in clearing jungle they would be found most useful to the township officials in a quasi-private capacity.