The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - Chapter II, 'Detailed Report on the Naga Hills Expedition of 1879-80', Capt. P.J. Maitland

caption: decision to establish a British officer at Samaguting in 1866
medium: reports
person: Beadon/ Sir CecilGregory/ Lt.
ethnicgroup: Angami
location: Samaguting Dhansiri R. (Dansiri R.) Asalu Diyung R. (Doyang R.)
date: 1866
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: The Lieutenant Governor of Bengal also perceived that to recede before the wild tribes and fall back from their neighbourhood, whenever they chose to annoy us, was a proposal that could not be entertained. "The practical effect of such a measure would be that in the course of a few years Assam would be divided amongst the Bhutias, Abors, Nagas, Garos, and other wild tribes; for, exposed as Assam is on every side, if petty outrages are to be followed by withdrawal of our frontier, we should very speedily find ourselves driven out of the province. "
text: After several years of delay and correspondence, in the course of which Sir Cecil Beadon rather severely handled the then Commissioner, a great upholder of non-intervention principles, it was decided to establish a British officer at (15) Samaguting, and once more endeavour to control the Angamis. The Lieutenant Governor's letter to the Government of India, on the Naga questions, is well worth quoting:-
text: "In regard to the policy to be pursued towards the Angami Nagas, the Lieutenant Governor is clearly of opinion that the abandonment of the position we held previously to 1854, and the withdrawal of our line of frontier posts to the left bank of the Dansiri, is proved by the events which have since occurred to have been a grave mistake, and that the only course left us consistently with the duty we owe to the inhabitants of the neighbouring frontier districts, as well as to the Angami Nagas themselves, who are torn by internicine feuds for want of a Government, and unable to exercise any general self-control, or to restrain independent action on the part of any village, or even of a section of any of the numerous villages, inhabited by the tribe, is to reassert our authority over them, and bring them under a system of administration suited to their circumstances, and gradually to reclaim them from habits of lawlessness, to those of order and civilisation.
text: "These Angami Nagas are frequently mentioned in the correspondence of late years as independent Nagas, and a distinction is made between the tract they inhabit and British territory, as if the former were not included in the latter. But for this distinction there is no real ground. The treaties with Burma and Manipur recognise the Patkai and Barel ranges of hills, running in a continuous line from the sources of the Dehing, in the extreme east of Assam, to those of the Dansiri, in North Cachar, as the boundary between those countries and British India. There is no intermediate independent country; and, while the wild tribes who inhabit the southern slopes of those ranges are subject to Burma and Manipur, those who inhabit the northern slopes are subject to the British Government. These latter, including the Angami Nagas, are independent only in the sense that the British Government has refrained from reducing them to practical subjection, and has left them, except at occasional intervals, entirely to themselves; but they have never acquired, or enjoyed, political or territorial independence; and it is clearly open to the British Government in point of right, as it is incumbent on it in good policy, to exercise its sovereign power by giving them the benefit of a settled administration.
text: This is the course advocated by all the local authorities, and it is the one which the Lieutenant Governor strongly recommends as the only means of establishing peace in this part of the frontier, and of putting an end to the atrocities which have prevailed more or less for the last 30 years, and which a policy of non-interference and purely defensive action is now found to be wholly inadequate to prevent. Even if the right of the British Government were less clear than it is, the existence on its border of a savage and turbulent tribe, unable to restrain its members from the commission of outrages, given up to anarchy, and existing only as a pest and nuisance to its neighbours, would justify the Government in the adoption of any measures for bringing it under subjection and control.
text: The Lieutenant Governor therefore proposes to direct Lieutenant Gregory to remove his head quarters from Asalu to Samaguting, to abolish Asalu as a sub-division, apportioning a part among the districts of South Cachar, the Khasia and Jaintia Hills, and Nowgong, and constituting the remainder, lying on the right bank of the Dansiri, together with the Angami Naga Hills and country on both banks of the river Doyeng (Dayang) , a tributary of the Dansiri, a separate district, to be administered by Lieutenant Gregory as Deputy Commissioner, under the direct orders of the Commissioner, and no longer dependent on the District of Nowgong."
text: The orders of the Government of India thereon were as follows:- " Lieutenant Gregory may take up the proposed position at Samaguting and do his best by tact and good management, supported by a moderate display of physical force, to bring that portion of the hill tract adjacent to the plains into order. He will remember that our main object in having any dealings with the hill people is to protect the low lands from their incursions. (16) Instead, therefore, of exerting himself to extend our rule into the interior, he will refrain from such a course. Subject to this general principle, his line of action may be advantageously left in great measure to his own good judgment. A conciliatory demeanour will, of course, be indispensable, and perhaps the expenditure of a little money to leading men will be useful. When conciliation fails, punitive measures will not be shrunk from. In some instances a blockade of the passes, so as to exclude the offending tribe or village from our bazars, may be attended with good results. But in all cases the great point will be to select a penalty suitable to the circumstances of the affair."