Jadonang in History
Samson Remei, Ashinpou Gangmei, Dr Benjamin Gangmei and Thomas Kamei
Contd from previous issue
Jadonang’s appeal petition submitted to the Governor of Assam against Higgins’ verdict through the President of Manipur State Durbar, 26 June 1931 which reads as follow:
1. “The evidence of five co-accused against him was given an afterthought as the whole village could find no reasonable ground for the murder, according to the village opinion after one complete year.”
2. The judgement of the Political Agent did not trace out the real murderer, as the actual murderer was not identified, as the whole mob attacked the said persons. He urged the Court to trace out the prime mover of the crime and the real culprit.
3. He was not present at Kambiron at the time of the occasion of the murder as he was staying at Nungkao.
JC Higgins could not ascertain the real culprit(s) which he himself admitted stating that as crime was committed nocturnally and who caused the death of four traders were not known. But his political end of prosecution had overridden the findings about Jadonang’s innocence. So, JC Higgins started plotting a plan to implicate him in crime of the murder as principal culprit. His intent was reflected in his Manipur Administrative Report 1931-1932 stating “Jadonang was wanted not only as leader of the New Movement but also as a murderer”. Does not this statement contradict the evidence of innocence of Jadonang in the crime which he had admitted ? For Higgins the murder case, which was a stray and unrelated incident, was a conceivable ground for implication. In fact, it enabled him not only to implicate but also to incriminate him to the crime whereby he could be successful for political end (to eliminate him for this anti-British movement). Higgins was now able to implicate Jadonang by manipulating what was that belied in murder case. Remember the murder case which became “much needed evidence” for conviction of Jadonang leading to his death, came after 30 March 1931 but Higgins’ trial of Jadonang had been completed before 23 March 1931 in which he found no crime worthy of his death.
In the process of his plan to incriminate Jadonang in the murder case, he persuaded the co-accused to put blame on Jadonang that they should incriminate Jadonang as principal culprit. While he did that he promised the co-accused to acquit them of punishment. For this purpose, Higgins sent Mr Jinlakpou, a road muhori to visit villages from where the co-accused hailed. He, in order to incriminate Jadonang to the murder case, told that Jadonang would never be released from jail and sure to die under capital punishment and persuaded them to fix responsibility of the murder on Jadonang so that they might be acquitted of the crime. In this way Lulungpou, Accused No.6 of Mukti village was won over and he, in turn, won over other co-accused also.
Therefore, Higgins’ implication and incrimination of Jadonang to murder case as principal culprit were without rhyme or reason. The motive behind capital punishment on Jadonang without convincing evidence has clearly shown how the colonial authority in India viewed the “Naga Raj” or freedom movement of the Makaams. During the movement continued under Rani Gaidinliu, the perception of the Government of Assam of the movement was that it was “potential source of danger” and “grave” and JP Mills believed that it was truly to establish “Naga Kingdom” replacing British rule.
The political motive of JC Higgins, obvious to us in his prosecution of Jadonang, is also seen in the procedure of the prosecution. We have seen that Higgins exploited the murder case for an incriminating ground to implicate Jadonang in the crime done without positive evidence.
Firstly, when Jadonang was arrested on 19 February, 1931 at Lakhimpur, it was under Section 108 of IPC. The Section had nothing to do with murder case. Their intent was to contain his movement by arresting the leader who was nobody but Jadonang. Therefore, the Section 302 of IPC, applied later which has to do with the murder and it was part of Higgins’ plan to implicate Jadonang to the crime.
Secondly, the application of other Sections such as 109 and 149 of IPC along with the Section 108 was to drag all accused into the crime. And, while all accused admitted the crime Jadonang did not. But the former who admitted were acquitted or not executed but the latter who did not admit (for he was innocent) was condemned to hanging.
(To be contd)