The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

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

caption: Appropriateness of prison sentences; diverse religious sects at Jowai
medium: tours
person: Mills/ MrRoy/ Rev. Nichol
ethnicgroup: Khasi
location: Jowai Kohima Shillong
date: 19.10.1925
person: Hutton/ J.H.
date: 7.10.1925-29.10.1925
person: Pitt Rivers Museum Archive, Oxford
refnum: Hutton Ms. Box 2
text: 19th October
text: Halted Jowai and wrote, letters, dak, etc. I received here a copy of the Commissioner's order reducing from 4 to 2 years my sentence on a Kohima burglar. It was a severe sentence, but if called on to show cause why it should not be reduced I could perhaps have justified it. Of course the Commissioner could not know that the man after being sentenced had confessed to a whole series of burglaries covering the last three years at least, and in addition to being a burglar is a medicine-man, who combines prophecy of success and the finding of suitable times and places for the gang to burgle with his burglarious occupation. Or that I had refused to sell up his land to enable any of the stolen property to be made good, as that would have made him and his family entirely dependent on burglary. However, as it is, the leader of the gang, who got five years, also on his first conviction, has not appealed, and is probably time barred by now, and I hope that the Commissioner, when he sees this diary, will exercise his revisional powers and reduce his sentence to three years in the interests of equity. I hope still more that he will at the same time reduce the sentences of these Khonoma men who are in jail for the comparatively venial offence of bringing gunpowder, offered them for sale openly and cheap in Nepal (what Naga could resist?), and bringing it back to the Naga Hills. One of them got 2 years from Mr. Mills and the other two, who were not arrested and run in till later, got sentences from me of over 18 months each to bring their releases to about the date of the former ones. The latter is a rogue but both the other two are quite decent fellows, one a particular friend of mine, and if a professional burglar is to get two years only all these three will consider it (and rightly) most unfair if their sentences are not cut down. I fancy all three are likewise first convictions. I understand the people of Jowai are agitating for a cart road, probably with the object of being able the more easily to trade with Shillong. No doubt those with plenty of land will get a better price for their rice, but it will bring in strangers and probably unpleasant strangers, it is bound to raise prices locally, and will probably have the effect of making the well-off people richer and the poor poorer. O fortunatos nimium sua si bona norirt. Any way it will spoil Jowai.
text: Jowai Inspection Bungalow is very short of buckets. There is only one, and is it not a little one? The Subdivisional Officer tells me that this is the local tradition and that there has not been a bucket bought for twenty-seven years.
text: Jowai is a welter of religious sects. There are at least seven hereabouts. Viz.: (1) The Welsh Presbyterian Mission known locally as Kristan. (2) The "Church of Christ" known as Balang-trairi ("native sect") consisting of local schismatics of the above. (3) The Gospel Trumpeters or "Church of God", known locally as "Trumpets" being the followers of the Rev. Nichol Roy, a Khasi who went to the States and brought back this fancy religion and an American wife. (4) The Unitarians, known as Nongtarian, likewise an emanation from the United States of America, I think. (5) The Catholics, spoken of as "Roman Katholik". (6) The Church of England, known as "Shor" (a corruption of "church"). (7) The Ancients called Shnong i.e. "Steadfast", those who have remained in their old beliefs, but also including those who having apostasized from them, been subsequently excommunicated from their conventicle for some shortcoming or backsliding.