The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

Typescript, J.P. Mills, Tour Diary, March 1927, with comments by Ursula Betts, 1986

caption: Unsuitable irrigation plans; to Maibong; dishonest contractor prevented from swindling Nagas; accommodation plans and problems; Baptist-Catholic dispute; opium
medium: tours
person: Marriott/ Mr
ethnicgroup: SylhetiAoKuki
location: Maibong Haflong Calcutta
date: 4.3.1927
person: Betts/ UrsulaMills/ J.P.
date: 3.1927
person: School of Oriental and African Studies Library, London
text: 4th.
text: To Maibong by train. The train was very late and the Subdivisional Officer and I had two hours to wait on Lower Haflong Station. On the way down we saw the Agricultural Demonstrator, a Sylheti, who knew nothing whatever about hill work but had some entirely vague idea of making irrigated terraces with the sum of a hundred rupees. I told him he had better hold up the scheme until further notice. All being well I will go into the whole question of irrigation later in the year. I doubt if any is (2) wanted near Haflong or would be possible if it were wanted.
text: We travelled with Mr. Marriott, the District Engineer. On arrival at Maibong he and the Subdivisional Officer first settled the relative positions of a school and a proposed siding and then we all went to see some Ao Naga coolies who were working on the ballast for a contractor. It was very pleasant seeing them again and we talked like the old friends we were. There was the typical dispute with the contractor and the coolies were just ready to bolt home in disgust, without their money. The contractor had told the District Engineer that everything was most carefully arranged and that no dispute was possible. On arrival we found the truth was that the contractor had never seen the coolies, but had spoken to the headman at the station for five minutes, and had then left for Calcutta leaving them unpaid and working at a rate which he had not yet revealed to them. They had worked for a week and were living on credit in the bazaar. The contractor's agent had measured up no work and said he had no instruction as to the rate to be paid. It was only after long argument and threats that the Nagas would be sent home tomorrow that he agreed to a rate and to measurement being made tomorrow. The whole thing was typical of the old trick of trying to keep labour by with-holding payment. I (3) was able to persuade the Nagas to stay for a time at any rate, and Mr. Marriott who is disgusted with the lying contractor, will certainly see that they get a fair deal.
text: The bungalow at Maibong is a very fine one, but the railway are going to dismantle it as being too expensive to repair. They propose building a smaller one nearer the station. No accommodation is required in it for railway officers as they all have their own carriages, but for the Subdivisional Officer, the Divisional Forest Officer, the Civil Surgeon and myself accommodation is absolutely essential here. Mr. Marriott proposes Government should pay the small sum required to build and repair one room and will undertake to supply a chaukidar and lay water on. This would be a very paying arrangement and I will sent up a definite proposal.
text: I was tickled by a recent effort on the part of the Welsh Mission. They objected to the Roman Catholics, or Papists as they doubtless term them owning a house outside, but near, their compound lest their converts be corrupted by the wiles of the Scarlet Woman. Yet they expect villages to receive and accomodate within their boundary fences their own long-nosed Psalm singers.