The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

published - Chapter IV 'Detailed Report on the Naga Hills Expedition of 1878-80', Capt. P.J. Maitland

caption: visit of Sir Steuart Bayley, Chief Commissioner of Assam, to Kohima; recapitulation of the situation and terms to be offered to the Nagas
medium: reports
person: Bayley/ Sir SteuartSalojiDamantNation/ Gen.Wingate/ Lt.Michell/ Maj.Johnstone/ Col.
location: Kohima Sephima Baladhun Khonoma (Konoma) Mezema (Mozima) Sachema (Sachima)
date: 1.3.1880-11.3.1880
person: Maitland/ Capt. P.J.
date: 1880
person: India Office Library, London
refnum: IOR L/MIL/17/18/24
text: The Chief Commissioner of Assam visited Kohima while affairs were in this stage. He arrived from Manipur on the 1st March, and left for Golaghat on the 11th. While at Kohima Sir Steuart Bayley made a note on the situation for the information of the Government of India. A brief recapitulation of the principal points will be useful.
text: The men of Sephima under Saloji, who had been so troublesome on the communications, were making overtures, and had deposited their firearms with a village friendly to ourselves, as an earnest of their good intentions. Consequently the actively hostile communities were reduced to the Chitonoma Khel of Kohima and Konoma.
text: The latter was divided into two Khels, ( There appear to have been in fact three Khels of Konoma, Semnama (or Somama), Merima and Theboma. It was at the gate of the quarter occupied by the latter section that Mr. Damant was killed.)- Merima, rich and powerful, and Semnama, a weaker and poorer clan, which generally followed the lead of Merima. It was the Merima Khel which planned the murder of Damant, and was principally, if not entirely, concerned in the Baladhun raid. The Semnama Khel was pressed for food, and would be glad to give in, but feared their brethren of Merima. The latter were holding out stoutly, and had, according to our spies, provisions for a month in store. They had no intention of submitting, but might think about it if able to obtain an asylum in Manipur.
text: The Naga garrison of Chaka probably amounted to about a thousand men with two hundred muskets. Their system of warfare was opposed to anything like an open attack, and consisted entirely of ambushes and surprises. The results of these were sufficiently serious. Apart from the losses sustained in the assault on Konoma, we had suffered, in desultory warfare, a loss of some twenty four killed and about the same number wounded. An equal expenditure of life would probably have sufficed to purchase the capture of the Chaka position.
text: The Konoma men had begun to practice "jhum" cultivation in the neighbourhood of their stronghold. This looked as if they meant to stay where they were, for they could derive no benefit from the crops till autumn. It was now, however, the season for the Angamis to commence agricultural operations, and the men of Konoma, settled and skillful cultivators, would soon realise that their laboriously terraced lands were for ever lost. It was uncertain whether this would excite them to fresh activity, or induce them to give in. In either case to prevent their harassing and hunting us, General Nation and the Commissioner agreed that the only plan was to hunt and harass them.
text: The existing distribution of the forces at the General's disposition was as under:-
text: __Road_guards__...______...______..._____...____433
________________________________________Total 1,448;
text: ( This is in accordance with the Field Force Weekly Return dated 8th March. It would appear, therefore, that, although reinforced by half a battalion, the troops under General Nation's command were practically of the same strength as they had been three months previously.) out of which 117 were reported sick.
text: There were in addition about 200 Frontier Police; and the arrival of a wing 18th Native Infantry, expected next week, would place another 200 men at the (55) General's command. Until these arrived, however, General Nation could with difficulty avail himself of two hundred rifles at any one point. The posts on the line below Golaghat (350 men) were, the Chief Commissioner considered, unnecessarily strong. This was perhaps a fault on the right side; but if these posts and the garrison of Kohima could be reduced, so as to strengthen the troops available for attack, a serious demonstration against Chaka would probably have the effect of detaching at once the Semnama Khel, and leaving us only some five hundred men to deal with.
text: General Nation's plan was to occupy the villages immediately surrounding the enemy's position, Konoma, Mozima, and Sachima; to stop their earths westward by Captain Abbott at Paplongmai, and eastward by the detachment near Kigwima; to send out parties day and night to ambush their foragers, to harass their picquets, and to bring the pressure of the neighbouring villages to bear on the enemy, not only by occupation, but by threatening to stop the cultivation of their lands, which dovetailed with those of Konoma, until the latter had made complete submission.
text: In addition to General Nation's arrangements, small parties (300) of Manipur troops had been stationed at two villages on their own side, and if their co-operation was efficiently carried out it would be most valuable.
text: It was hoped that these measures would cause the Semnama Khel to give in when they would be allotted a site for a fresh village near Sachima without further penalty. The Merima Khel might then surrender, or accept the offer of lands to south of the Manipur valley, where they would be utilised as a buffer against the Sokhti Nichis, and whence they could not return. But the General was prepared, should all other means fail, to try an assault. The Chief Commissioner hoped, however, that this might not be necessary.
text: The field force could not possibly be broken up until the Konoma men had surrendered; and Sir Steuart Bayley thought it was altogether too soon to discuss the matter until the result of the blockading operations became known. If the Konoma men could not be forced to surrender before the setting in of the rains, the General considered that the troops must perforce remain as they were. But in the Chief Commissioner's opinion the force might be reduced to a single battalion in the hills, with a strong reserve at Golaghat, ready to recommence operations as soon as the season opened. Lieutenant Wingate, Chief Commissariat Officer, calculated that, if the new pony train worked efficiently, he would be able to feed a thousand soldiers and five hundred followers all through the rainy season: and this strength Sir Steuart Bayley considered more than sufficient. For, although we should be unable to damage the Nagas, they would be equally unable to harass us, except by petty attacks on posts in their immediate vicinity. They would not dare to attempt raiding in the plains, as the rising of the rivers might at any moment cut off their retreat.
text: The terms offered to the revolted Angami communities, except the Merima Khel of Konoma, were-
text: (1) Surrender of all firearms.
text: (2) Removal of village to a new and unfortified site.
text: (3) Agreement to pay revenue at the rate of Re. 1, and one maund of rice, per house: also to give 15 days' labour to the State.
text: (4) Election of a headman who could collect revenue, and be generally responsible for the conduct of the village.
text: Where the village had not been destroyed, and where the site was not dangerously strong, instead of changing the location, a fine of rice and labour had been exacted.
text: With regard to the Merima Khel, two individuals, the man who shot Mr. Damant, and the dobashia who betrayed him, were exempted by name from all terms. The remainder of the section were, on the surrender of their arms, to be offered safe conduct and lands in Manipur territory: failing this they were to be located in some remote part of the hills, and broken up among several villages.
text: The Chief Commissioner considered it essentially necessary that the Kuki and Katcha Naga villages to the west of the Angami country, and now partly in the Naga Hills district and partly in North Cachar, should be brought (56) under stricter control. " These Kukis, who used to be constantly at feud with the Angamis, have all got guns, and, as recent events have shown, are a good deal out of hand." It was , therefore, proposed to reconstitute the Naga Hills district, including in it the whole country, from Barel on the south, to Nowgong on the north, " The limits of the political officer's jurisdiction, so far as taking revenue and direct interference goes, should be fixed to the eastward by a line drawn along the Nummoo ridge, ( See foot note, page 3 ) and thence northward by the Dayang, from the junction of the Sijjo and Zullo rivers, to the Woka and Golaghat road. This includes the country known as that of the Eastern Angamis, the Sema and Hatigoria Nagas. The first step, and that to which I attach most importance, is the selection of headmen, whose authority must be supported, who must collect revenue and receive a commission on it, being themselves exempt both revenue and labour. The entire want of control over the individual in these small democratic communities offers the greatest obstacle to peace and good government, and it will be Major Michell's ( Major Michell had been lately appointed as successor to Mr. Damant.) most imperative duty to carry out this measure. The collection of revenue will be done gradually, and neither in this case nor in the demand for labour should the conditions of our rule be allowed to press so severely as to interfere with trade or agriculture. The amounts now fixed are tentative, and the Political Officer can exercise discretion in enforcing them, and in making suggestions for modifying them."
text: On the important question of transport and supplies the Chief Commissioner felt himself bound to say that Colonel Johnstone's anticipations as to the ease with which Naga labour and rice could be obtained had not been realised. The difficulty of getting in a sufficient supply of Naga labour would be increasingly felt as the season for cultivation came on.