The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: visit to Kongan fort; destruction of Kongan land by Borjan Colliery; proposal for new agreement by which Kongan can ask for as much rent as it likes; state ownership of land; Nagas working in colliery
medium: tours
person: Motilal RaiWright/ Capt.BeckettThomson
ethnicgroup: Sema
location: Naginimara R.S. (Naginimara) Kongan Namsang Borjan Colliery
date: 26.4.1923
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 23.3.1923-1.5.1923
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 26th
text: To Naginimara where I stopped with the Colliery Manager. On the way I visited Kongan Fort, a post strikingly untypical of the general run of Naga Hills posts, and infinitely neater and brighter than is possible for a post that is hedged in by a panjied stockade 8 feet high or so. The Jamadar had not yet been found and it is not now likely that he ever will be. A Havildar (Motilal Rai) was in charge. He seemed rather vague as to the whereabouts of the picket post arranged for by Capt Wright to cover the nullah on the South West front.
text: There was one sick in hospital. He had bad fever. The Sub Assistant Surgeon had not been to Kongan for 12 days and was stated not to come regularly. A compounder was in charge. The water supply is a little far but it is good.
text: At Naginimara I disposed of two pending cases and discussed one or two things with the Colliery Manager, a new man, one Beckett, who has succeeded Mr. Thomson. The Colliery are apparently in occupation of one plot marked E on their maps and 2.64 acres in area, which they have bought very [cheaply?] off Kongan but for which they have no settlement with Government, I told the Manager that the Company had better put in a formal application for settlement. The land is near the station and will be valuable in time. They have another plot (2 acres odd) which they rent from Kongan. I am inclined to think that it would be in Kongan's interest to get the arrangement put down in the form of a written lease clearly specifying that Kongan has the right to charge what rent it pleases and to terminate the lease without giving compensation for buildings etc. The Colliery is now about to apply for fresh surface rights outside its grant.
text: Kongan have already suffered a great deal of loss by the Colliery which now occupies most of their best jhum land, which it is ruining, or has already ruined, for cultivation by cutting down all the timber to make pit-props. Kongan cannot spare any more land, on the other hand the company cannot get at certain seams of coal without it, and though they could doubtless manage with a narrow strip they will certainly demand more and whatever they get they will spoil. If land has to be given them it ought only to be at such a high rate of annual payments that they will limit their occupation to the absolute minimum and these payments should be made to Kongan, not to Government. The former settlement with Kongan was appallingly unjust. Rs. 500/- is no substitute for even a year's rice crop, and even if the village elders had known enough to invest it instead of "eating" it, it would have done them little good. The theory that all jhum land is Government waste land is iniquitous in the extreme. It may do well enough for such migratory villages as have not even a rotation of village site, but cannot be applied to settled villages where all lands is privately owned. The theory that Government is the owner of all land is just no doubt in the plains, where that principle was taken over from the native rulers who preceeded the Company. The principle of State ownership was not taken over with the land of Kongan (or any other Naga village) and the theory that it exists is a very improper application of the right of conquest, but I fear typically British where trade is involved. The Manager wishes to raise the allowance of liquor at his shop, as this shop is making too high a profit it will be a very good opportunity of increasing the Vend Fee. There is a fair case for an increase of ration as the population of the colliery has increased by 66% since it was fixed. Apparently the provision against sale to Nagas has been omitted from the existing license, probably carelessness on the part of my office. (It is being restored.)
text: Dynamiting fish is probably frequent. The Manager caught one man at it himself, and "fined him Rs.40/-". He did not tell me what he did with the fine. I am not sure that it would not be sound to offer the Manager of Behubar Garden a fishing lease of the river where it passes the Colliery, if it would be done without prejudicing Kongan and Namsang.
text: The keeping up of the bridle path by the Colliery is a farce. I am inclined to stop paying them their subsidy. They are bound by their lease to keep a path open and they could not keep less than they do at any rate without seriously inconveniencing themselves. Anyway there is no point now in paying for a cart road for the lower end of the bridle-path. On the other hand we get a good deal out of the Colliery for nothing in other ways, particularly in the use of their tulfer in carrying rations up to the post. Nagas have taken to working underground now, and have just been given a separate shaft of their own to work. They are mostly depatriated Semas.
text: I asked the Manager about the arrangement with Kongan for the conservation of trees that he proposed. Apparently he was offering payment for each tree left in the ground. In order of course that he might use it. Anyway he has taken no action as he says that he never had a reply from the Sub Divisional Officer.