Advantages and Disadvantages of Pacification

Durability of the Process of Pacification

During the whole period after 1866 and the creation of the Naga Hills District, headhunting and raids - in effect all types of warfare -were officially banned within the administered region (West 1994: 62). Villages that did not obey this ban were severely punished. There were occasional relapses. But all in all, the British succeeded in gradually curtailing warfare and headhunting and extending the District eastwards step by step over almost 80 years. There is information that Angami often brought village conflicts between local patriclans/6/?e/ to the Deputy Commissioner’s court (Fiirer-Haimendorf 1976: 13), but whether fights could really be prevented that way, and whether the decisions of the Deputy Commissioner always were accepted, remains unclear. It is also possible that villages could still have fought battles without British officers being informed of it, as their presence in the Naga Hills was limited to a few fortified posts. Sanctions for headhunting were drastic, but that too might not have guaranteed that they did not still continue.

There is hardly any adequate information regarding violent conflicts within and between villages. Fiirer-Haimendorf (1976: 12) reports on quarrels regarding land, inheritance, adultery or destruction of gardens by livestock that were brought to the Deputy Commissioner’s court by many Angami Naga. It is possible that resorting to courts became a new form of competition, in which the winning party in the “British court” could gain prestige. This seems rather speculative, but probable considering the following quote from Fiirer-Haimendorf:

There were several cases to be brought before Mills, and the quarrelling parties had each brought hordes of clansmen and friends to support them. This support the clansmen and the friends thought best to render in loud altercations and expressions of opinion. The cork was out of the bottle, and all the anger that had been suppressed for months seemed to explode at the long-expected visit of the Great Sahib [...] Very patiently Mills worked through the tangle of accusations and defence, and finally passed judgement. But even then, the excited harangues still continued outside the bungalow, and every moment I expected the different sides would come to blows.

(Fiirer-Haimendorf 1976: 12)

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