UNDER the Sangh’s ‘Experience Expansion’ programme, I had an opportunity to stay in Arunachal Pradesh for three months i.e. from November 9, 2010 to February 9, 2011. During this period I saw the life there very closely. I feel if someone is to study the extreme diversity of Motherland Bharat, the seven North-eastern states, particularly Arunachal Pradesh, is the best place of observation and experimentation.
Entry into this hilly state needs Inner Line Permit (ILP) which is issued for fifteen days only. One can visit maximum three places within the state in one issue. It is a matter of debate whether after 64 years of Independence still British isolationist policy of keeping Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram aloof from rest of Bharat should further continue or not. A non-Janjati cannot buy an inch of land in these states.
The horror story of 1962 Indo-China war is still alive among the Arunachalis. To add spice, China has claimed the whole of Arunachal as part of its expansionist agenda. The on-going nuisance of issuing stapled visas to two Arunachali athletes is a new headache for New Delhi. There is a growing anxiety among the people here as to what is the motive behind China’s construction of a highway up to the borderline of the state. In comparison to the worse road connectivity to Tawang, Tuting, Anini and other parts of Arunachal Pradesh, the Chinese side highway can have vehicles running at a speed of 70 km ph. China has recently tried with the rail connectivity to Lhasa too.
In 2001, China created a major havoc to Arunachal when without any precaution it intentionally lifted the big gates of its transit dam resulting untold loss in terms of human life and property. The innumerable bridges over Siang on the Indian side as means of road connectivity were washed away by the 40ft high sudden artificial flood. The local people believe China wanted to estimate the damage it can impose on Bharat as a strategic test case. What about the other rivers coming from the Chinese side if the Dragon dares to build more dams?
Life for a remote Arunachali village is typical in its own way. There are hundreds of villages without any road connectivity at all. To reach some villages, even two to three days of walking is necessary. For example, the Polulang and Glotong villages of Anjaw district in the eastern part of Arunachal need two days of complete walking from motorable road. The villagers in these two villages belong to Kaman Mishmi Janjati-one of the 40 prominent Janjatis in Arunachal. They worship Amik Mathai as their god.
Surprisingly, there are many villages with just a single household. Five to six members of the only family stay in such a village inside dense forest. The Itili village beside Itiafra river, some 35 kms from Roing, is one such single home village. Nawa Lamuni Mega is the oldest person in the family, thus naturally, the village headman. To reach this village, one has to cross three rivers within lone forests from Roing. The Nhai village of Kurung Kume district is another single-family village. It belongs to Solung Nishi Janjati which has converted to Christianity.
The trace of ancient Hindu heritage is plenty in Arunachal. The Border Road Organisation (BRO) while digging up ground to make roadway finds lots of ancient stone statues of different gods and goddesses. The finding of a statue of Lord Shiva at Chimri village is one such example. At Injono village of Lower Dibang Valley district, a person named Shriti Lingi from Idu Mishmi Janjati while cultivating in his orange garden in 1995 found a huge old statue of Lord Ganesha beneath the ground. The archeologists date it back to 12th century.
The Chinese claim to Arunachal looks hollow and hypocritical when a 25ft huge Shivling was unearthed from ground by one Nepali man Prem Subba in July 2004, near Hapoli, Ziro. While cutting down a tree, the log fell on ground hitting into the soil under which a black shining stone patch was seen, thus leading way to the discovery of the largest natural Shivling. The local Apatani Janjati has been trying to find a link to this strange phenomenon with the ancient scripture of Shiv Puran. In the 1893 edition of Shiv Puran, 17th chapter, it has been forecasted that a huge Shivling would come up at a certain period of time in future at a certain place to be called Arunachal. The same forecast has been there in the Shiv Puran published by Geeta Press, Gorakhpur, 7th edition, 1978, page 25, in the chapter ‘Vindheshwari Samhita’. The new found Shivling known as Siddheshwarnath is drawing huge devotees everyday with grand enthusiasm and bhakti.
There is an age-old belief among the Idu Mishmis that Rukmini, Lord Krishna’s wife, belonged to their community. There is a Bhishmak Nagar in Arunachal Pradesh coinciding Rukmini’s father King Bhishmak. Some ancient remnants of a vast fort can be seen within the dense forests there. A Shivling in Tezu known as Bhimshankar is believed to have been worshipped by Princess Rukmini. Lord Krishna and Rukmini had stayed for some time on their way to Dwarika at a place called Likawali, 10 kilometres from the Assamese border town Silapathar. They had worshipped goddess Malini and had got married there as per the Gandharva rituals. Likawali’s Malinithan is the largest archaeological site in Arunachal Pradesh today. The different carvings on stones and deities scattered here and there prove there was a huge stone temple present once upon a time.
Rukmini’s brother Rukm got defeated at the hands of Krishna and the Lord punished him by shaving his head hairs. Till today, the Idus keep on this link by shaving their front and side hairs of the head. It is said the insulted Prince Rukm did not return back to Bhishmak Nagar. He stayed back at a different place. There is a place called Rukm which is situated some 38 kms from Roing and is about 65 kms from Bhishmak Nagar. Such kinds of innumerable incidents, existence of places and old remnants have definitely given headache to the so-called intellectuals who smell a myth in anything that is ancient.
Arunachal’s past was perfect although the present is indefinite. As part of an international strategy, there is a well-knit plan to de-link the Janjatis from their cultural heritage and to convert the state into a Christian fief-land. Janjati tradition is at threat today. The two disturbed districts like Tirap and Changlang are forcefully baptised under secessionist organisation NSCN’s gun point. Their armed cadres burn the bamboo temples where the Janjatis gather for community worship. There is resentment among the local Nocte, Tangsa and Tutsa Janjatis against this forceful conversion.
The NSCN runs a kind of parallel government under the banner of Greater Nagaland for Christians. The whole of Nagaland, Manipur, the two districts of Arunachal Pradesh and some regions of Assam come under their pseudo-claim. It is an open secret that all government employees pay 2 per cent of their income to NSCN and businessmen are forcefully collected with yearly ransom. There are at least hundreds of direct or indirect evidences of linkage between the terrorists of NSCN and their mentor behind the screen, the American Baptist Church.
The organisations like Arunachal Vikas Parishad (AVP), Arun Jyoti and Sewa Bharati are working day and night to preserve the indigenous faith and culture of the Janjatis. AVP is the local denomination for Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and Arun Jyoti belongs to Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari. The slogans like, “Loss of Culture is Loss of Identity” and the “Religious Conversion in the name of Social Service is an insult to Humanity”, have stirred up Janjati heart and mind. On December 31, 2010, the “Indigenous Faith Day” was celebrated in many parts of the state. After persistent demand from the AVP, the state government declared December 31, a holiday, to recognise and preserve the Indigenous Faith. In total, 106 programmes were organised and the participation of Janjatis would cross 70,000. This was enough for some sleepless nights for the church establishments. The retaliation was well expected.
The NSCN issued threatening letters to stop all Indigenous Faith activities in Changlang, their stronghold. To meet the urgency, the Rang-Fraa Indigenous Faith followers got surrounded with their visionary leader, L Khimun and resolved to meet even death for protecting swadharma. The NSCN kidnapped one of their organisers and asked for ransom, which was not heeded. Measuring that the popular opinion among the Janjatis was going against Christianity the NSCN had to free the person. This was a moral victory of the Faith movement for their sustained fight against the crusade.
Arunachal is the only state in whole North-east where Hindi is widely spoken and understood by the majority. During the 1962 China war, there were innumerable instances where the remote villagers helped the Indian Army at the cost of their own security. Even the off and on Chinese intrusion into our border region is reported to the Army intelligence by the border region villagers. Today, strategically important Arunachal needs proper policy attention by the political and governing class. Otherwise, the beautiful Himalayan state will end up only in confusion and chaos.
(The writer is a Vibhag Pracharak in Delhi and can be contacted at [email protected])