The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter five. Change of Course
caption: Gaidiliu movement
medium: books
person: Masang/ of KepeloGaidiliu
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: Troops were sent out to all the three districts in which the Kacha Naga country fell - Manipur, Naga Hills and North Cachar. Outposts were set at strategic points; searches were instituted; patrols went out; and local movement between villages was sternly restricted. But Gaidiliu, piloted by her North Cachar agent, Masang of Kepelo, remained at large. The bulk of the Zemi were on her side, and those who were (47) not were afraid to speak. The country was a warren of game- trails, field-tracks, paths, caves, forests and ravines. Every settlement had its own private ways, its back entrances revealed to none, its secret hide-outs. Abetting villages signalled, by beacon, the movements of patrols. She came and went like a ghost. To make things worse, she was often present only in spirit, and panting sepoys, sent out on the best information found Nagas dancing solemnly before an empty throne. To crown it all, she was - on the principle of " darkest below the lamp " - concealed for three months within sight of the outpost at Hangrum. The village sent out to worship her every day; and when she left she told Hangrum that they could attack the outpost without getting hurt. She had, she said, bewitched the sepoys' rifles. Their bullets were water; they would not kill.
text: It would be interesting to know now whether she really believed in her own powers. At any rate, Hangrum (who could, had they been attacking rationally, have crept up by night through the dead ground and rushed the outpost easily) made a massed charge, in daylight, down the only slope on which the sepoys commanded a field of fire. It will always be a mystery to those who know the place why three times the number were not killed. When the first volley, fired over their heads, brought them howling on, encouraged, the next was sent into them at thirty yards' range; with the obvious consequences.
text: Meantime the Gaidiliu movement went merrily on. Wherever she went there were agents to support the racket. They sold " Gaidiliu water " at Rs 10/- the bottle - one draught, and you'd never be ill again - though the contents were drawn straight from the Thingje village pond ! They did her patent infallible magic ceremonies for the sick faithful, for a large fee and their dinner; they collected tribute on her behalf and took commission; and above all, they took great care that she stayed at large. When the ordinary villager grew tired of it - and it was he who was being harried and (48) worried and fined by an angry and pursuing Government - they took care of him, too; and when a few dissenters had been found dead it was harder than ever for officers to gather information. But it had to stop one day; and it did.