Highway to Vijoynagar

Beginning February this year, there was a team of survey along the MV Road. I saw them several times; the last I saw at TVS near the church.

From the survey team and others told, there will be a National Highway replacing the current construction under PMYGS. It will be a double lane and final report of survey has to be submitted by April end.

But our visit to FD office, Namdapha National Park, I learned the survey was cancelled at the objection of the Field Director.

I am surprised at how Indian law works. If there are several clearance necessary from the Wildlife, why would the National Highway Authority not take their homework?

Strange it may be this is our system enjoys stagnation.

Encroachers evicted from Namdapha Park

Perhaps this is the third eviction against our Lisu community. The first in 1979 at Nibodi village (52 Mile) and in 1984 at Miphoto village (80 Mile). It is not just the eviction that I am concerned but the atrocities and torture the authorities meted against my people. In this particular news report that occurred on the 21 April 2016, following unkind, rather harmful acts were done:

1. MV Road was completely blocked: The Namdapha authorities ordered no pedestrians and vehicles to pass through M’pen Gate (Dated 16th April) and effective from 18 to 30 April. Reason cited as ARMS AND AMONITION TRAINING for their staff. This is inhuman. Our people have to walk home everyday. Road bandh means blocking the lifeline of the whole of Vijoynagar block.

2. Bridge over 27 Mile nallah cut off: This track was in existence prior to the MV Road. This is our lifeline too. Bridge was built by villagers just a week ago. It took them two whole days in extreme rainy days. The river swell high; people cannot cross because of the high tide. The bridge was still intact till 6 pm 20 April. The next day was cut.

The Namdapha authorities can boast of their achievement but they must never forget they have touched the livelihood of several families. See details of the torture… for them its just facts of destruction but for us it is life.

===================

Source: AP Times, April 26, 2016

ITANAGAR, Apr 25: The officials of Namdapha National Park (NNP) along with police evicted the land encroachers of the Park on April 21.

14 dwelling houses/huts were demolished and cardamom plantation (4ha) and maize (2ha) fields destroyed during the eviction drive at 31 Mile Section of the MV Road.

The occupants were reported to be from Yobin community of Gandhigram village of Vijoynagar and Miao town.

The team could apprehend only the women (illegal) occupants as the all the male members had fled their homes on seeing the eviction team.

The encroachers will be prosecuted under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

The eviction team was led by H Nyorak, Assistant Field Director, NNP.

Before the eviction drive, a notice was served to the encroachers for vacating the lands within 45 days.

The matter of encroachment at 31 Mile was brought to the notice of PCCF (WL&BD) & Chief Wildlife Warden GN Sinha in the first week of April, 2016 by Field Director, Namdapha National Park Dusu Shra.

Sinha had taken the matter very seriously and issued strong directions to the Park authority to remove the encroachers.

Many discussions have been held in past to pursue them to vacate the area. The recent act of fresh encroachment in 31 mile area of the Tiger Reserve by few Yobin people had been an irritant to the wildlife wing of Forest Department.

The management of Namdapha Tiger reserve sought support of all the stakeholders, especially the local fringe villagers in protection and conservation of Park.

An anecdote at Miphoto village

Information source: Yoafu and Motika, both in their early 60s. collected informally at Miao in April 2016.

This incident occurred between 1983-84 (difficult to elicit exact dates, elderly people usually relate one incident with another incident!), at Miphoto village. Miphoto village is what the Namdapha authorities called “80th Mile”. For them all Lisu villages within the disputed area are just miles, whereas for us all are names with deep emotionally rooted villages. On the other side of this village is a river called Lashitsilo. This was where ration dropped for the Srijitga expedition team in 1961.

At the time of this incident there were five families living there.

A forest personnel by his second name, Saikia came to demarcate the easternmost end of their Namdapha. He began cutting the boundary. Some of the villagers went and scolded. “Jungle me chwe-chwe kya karta hai”. (Chwe-chwe is the sound of cutting jungle in Lisu). Those forest people stopped and he gave in writing that he would not come again to disturb the boundary. This was kept with Phuyedwe.

But then the Circle Officer stepped in. Rajesh Paniang was the CO. He brought police personnel with him. Came to the boundary site. Snatched back the letter from Saikia and forcefully started to cut the jungle as boundary for the Namdapha.

Villagers went to protest. But the four of the five houses were burnt except the house of one who pulled out his dao. Several people were beaten – Late Aphujo who protested when his house was being burned. Another two student leaders were beaten too – Late Hoyofu and Phuyedwe.

Do we forget this? No. This is quite alive in our memories and we are not going to forget what the Namdapha has been torturing our community.

Refugee Card

(Information source: Phuyedwe, senior public leader, on 16 March 2016, at Miao)

All kinds of oppressions has been through the life of our society. Here is one I learned a bit in detail recently. This is regarding the issue of a refugee to Lisu community in the early 1980s.

I saw that card of my mom in my childhood. It had a blue cloth matted cover. Inside there was a photo of the person (black and white) and on top “IDENTITY CARD”.

When it was first introduced no one knew what it was. The then Circle Officer convinced the Political Interpreter, a Lisu man, that it would bring lots of benefits. As a result, whole illiterate villagers embraced that identity card, not knowing the purpose of that card.

Then Phuyedwe, then a student in Changlang, happened to be at Mohanbari, Assam. There at the IB he heard the announcement of the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh over the radio that certain kind of Identity card had been issued to the refugees in Tirap District (now Tirap bifurcated into three districts – Tirap, Longding and CHanglang), to Tibetan from Tibet and Lisu/Yobin of Burma.

This was a shocking news for him. He immediately marched back to Gandhigram. A consultation with all villagers took place. Phusa, a senior leader now, was there then.

Two main points made at that meeting – first rally and then return the card.

A rally was organized from Shidi to Vijoynagar. People shouted slogans: “NO REFUGEE” and “HUM NAHIN BIDESHI”. Elderly people could not say clearly so they said pronounced very funny. People still laugh till this day. They pronounced “No li-fu-jhi” which would mean in Lisu “snake skin”!! And for Bideshi, they pronounced “bo-di-xi” which means “dead insects”!!

Then all the cards from all villagers were collected. Phuyedwe said in all the weight was a headload.

A delegation of three people was selected – Phuyedwe, Hoyefu (alias Ngwa Banaba”) and Late Loatse then GB of Gandhigram. They walked five days and arrived Miao.

Then they went to the EAC of Miao, Mr Bharat Borwah with headload of identity cards. The GB spoke (Phuyedwe translated into Hindi) and said “We don’t want this so we are returning them to you”. The EAC wanted them to submit them to higher authority but they forcefully dumped there and left the office.

The time of return, Phuyedwe, remembered is during the three month period when Tamo Riba was the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh.

That was last time our people saw the Refugee Card but beginning of the demand for the restoration of Indian Citizenship which was finally returned in 1994.

This is just a highlight of the deceptive and oppressive strategy of the administration in particular for our people. Many were to follow to our horror.

Pul seeks de-notification of reserved forests in urban areas

I haven’t read this kind of initiative from previous AP Governments. For better or worse, the Reserved Forests has affected most people of AP. In our locality alone, Miao to Namchik is all reserved and M’pen to Gandhigram. Where then would people habitat? Interesting news on AP Times, 7 April 2016.

=============

Pul seeks de-notification of reserved forests in urban areas

April 7, 2016

NEW DELHI, Apr 6: Chief Minister Kalikho Pul has appealed for de-notification of reserved forest areas that cover major towns and large human habitations, especially those in the foothill areas, on a case-by-case basis.
He said this in a meeting with Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar.
CM said the state government intends to undo the past injustice, where many existing villages and community lands were notified as reserved forest, especially during 1970s to 1990s.
The boundaries of reserved areas were drawn without actually mapping the area on the ground flouting all the rules and procedures, said the CM.
He mentioned that several portions in all major district headquarters in the state are under reserved areas. Even important institutions and establishments in Itanagar, such as Raj Bhawan, CM’s office, and many important government building today are well within the notified areas.
Several banks and financial institutions such as NeDFI and NABARD are not ready to invest or loan money for setting up businesses due to such constraints. Also projects for essential services like roads, drinking water schemes and hydel projects are being stalled, said the CM.
However, several areas in the foothills are under reserved areas, due to which the scope for establishment of business and offices are constrained, said the CM.
He pointed out that many reserved areas are without forest cover, poor vegetation and without signs of any wildlife, which could be de-notified to make room for development.
Further pointing out the delay of several power projects in the state due to accord of forest clearance being linked up with the completion of basin study, the CM requested the union minister for delinking basin studies from forest clearance.
He mentioned that several projects, which were under implementation has been held up due to mandatory requirement of basin studies to get the final nod from the environment ministry. This has severely affected the confidence of the investors, as the fate of several projects remains uncertain, said the CM.
He requested the union minister for a single window clearance system to expedite execution of power projects stating that power requirement is critical not only for state’s development but for nation as well. The CM also suggested that for smaller hydro projects below 25MW, which does not come under the purview of EIA notification 2006, could be exempted from basin study.
He said all measures would be taken to ensure minimum displacement. To achieve that the CM said instead of single large storage dam, the project will be developed as run-of-the-river and in several stages on one single river.
The union minister assured the CM that centre would lend all helping hands to expedite execution of development projects in Arunachal and to lessen the hurdles in forest clearance. On development of border infrastructures, the minister informed that ministry has granted general approval for all security infrastructures projects 100 km inside the international border. Also he informed that ministry has exempted from the purview of forest clearance, all linear projects – such as highways – in the Border States.

Lisu football team at Miao

This team of young people played on behalf of Lisu living in Miao for the Independence Day tournament 2015. They overcame two teams but lost the third match. We hope to strengthen further next year.

Bridges

There are many ways people build bridges. Ours is different, top right and bottom left.

The top left is in Zanskar across the Tsarab Lingti river near the Phugtal Gompa, the bottom right is at Tuting, U. Siang district, Arunachal across the Brahmaputra.

The next time we construct a new one, we can plan to modify and adjust our style.

Photos: By Lakshmi R

A sketchy Note on Eviction of Nibodi village by Forest Department in 1979

Information collected from Pastor Yeko, about 70 year old, who was the resident pastor of Nibodi village of the village. Informally interviewed on 3 March 2016 at Miao.

At the time of eviction there were 15 families living in Nibodi village (This village is also called as Aguhomu or 52 Mile). (Around this time MV Road was freshly cleared. People carried their loads on bicycles).

Just before the eviction, all the villagers were called back to Shidi village for a “photo shoot”, meaning the administration wanted to provide an identity card. The identity card later turned out to be a Refugee Card, which later was sent back to DC office in a gunny bag. Only two adults stayed in the village along with a few children.

At that time, the Forest Personnel came to the village. Houses were burnt, paddy godown were cut and burnt. They carried several daos, bows, axe which was later further confirmed in a report by CO to DC. Pastor Yeko also lost two very good axes which he never forget till this day.

When the villagers returned home, there was nothing left for their survival. With no other option before them, they went back to Shidi and Hazolo.

Of those who settled at Nibodi those days, only four of the men are still living till today. They are A.S.T, P.L, W.H and Pastor Yeko.

Along with this information coincided another eviction order by the Field Director. The villagers still remember very well the hurt the Forest Department have made on them.

Border areas of Arunachal have always remained neglected: Pul

Glad to find emphasis of the new CM keeping an emphasis for Vijoynagar area to develop it as one of the potential tourism sites.

===================

Border areas of Arunachal have always remained neglected: Pul

March 3, 2016

ITANAGAR, Mar 02: “Border areas of Arunachal have always remained neglected. Arunachal comes in the national headlines only during floods and when Chinese troops make incursions in the border,” said the Chief Minister Kalikho Pul while addressing a group of delegates from Mechuka constituency recently in his office conference hall.

“Mere rhetoric of Arunachal as an integral part of India is not enough. The words have to match our actions on the ground. We have to reassure the border people of our commitment towards their development to make the border area habitable,” said the Chief Minister.

Calling the border inhabitants as vanguards in securing the international borders along the Mc Mahon line, Chief Minister Kalikho Pul informed that series of measures will be taken to improve the standard of life in the border areas.

“Border people have the knowledge of local terrains and their knowledge base serves as an important information source for the army to secure the border,” said the Chief Minister

Speaking on the priorities for border people, the Chief Minister said the state government is committed to provide all basic public services such as quality drinking water, quality health services, good road networks and proper education services.

To make the point that he was not merely air talking, the Chief Minister took the example of Hawai, headquarters of Anjaw district, where he claimed to have turned his vision into reality.

“Hawai is today a well planned town with 24 hours uninterrupted water and power supply.

It has well laid out shopping complex, good quality infrastructures such as government offices and government quarters, and has well connected 2-lane roads within the township.”

The Chief Minister said measures will also be taken to improve the economy of the border areas.

“We have rich natural resources – hydropower, mines and minerals. These sectors will be given top priority to revive the economy of the state.”

Besides tapping the natural resources, the Chief Minister said the government will also boost horticulture and agriculture development in border areas.

“We will provide all necessary financial and technical support to the farmers. Special measures will be taken to make the local economy self-sustainable,” said the Chief Minister assuring that people won’t be disappointed by his government.

The Chief Minister also emphasised on developing tourism in the border areas. For development of tourism sector, he hinted on developing four potential tourism sites in Arunachal – Mechuka, Anini, Hawai and Vijaynagar.

“These four tourism sites have their own unique natural beauty, which is distinct from each other,” said the Chief Minister.

He, however, said for development, people have to make compromises.

“People should be ready to part with their land, forests and mountains. Government cannot force development on people, but can only be achieved if they are volunteering for it,” said the Chief Minister.

The delegates were accompanied by Mechuka MLA Pasang Dorjee Sona.

The First Ever Meeting of the Lisu with the Indian Army in 1961

The following details were elicited from Mr Daliwu, a 90 year old retired pastor of Shidi (Gandhigram) village, interviewed in his house on the 29th January 2016. He has seen when the batch of the Srijitga Expedition team arrived Shidi on the 7th May 1961. His wife, Mrs Mathaye who was present that day added few additional information.

PRIOR TO ARRIVAL

· Prior to arrival of the Srijitga Expedition team, several flights frequented over the Shidi area. Villagers waved them with their cloths.

MEETING

· Then on Sunday, the 7th May 1961, while having the church service (the church building was then located at Ngwashodi’s residence plot) two new people came who happened to be language interpreters of the team. One was a Lisu person named Ngwadi and the other was Pisilah Singpho (father of Pisigam Singpho).

· The two men were sent by the commanding army officer, Major Sumer Singh, the leader of the team to spy the people. They were instructed to check who the people were. If they are enemy, they were to quickly return to him.

· In the meantime, Major Sumer Singh watched from a distance, near the present Shidi football ground (near the baptismal area of the Noa Dihing river).

· After the initial introduction, the whole villagers went with the two men toward the baptismal area to meet the army officer. They were surprised to see about 30 jawans in military dress and 30 porters in “servant dress” come out from their hide outs from across the river. A dark skinned “phone person” was among them and he was very pleased to find the whole villagers were Christians. Hence he developed a bond as Christians with the villagers and when returning back, he very reluctantly joined the team.

· And in traditional manner, the villagers welcomed them with handshake and provided “kocho”.

· The team then camped near the current Christmas venue during their stay in the village.

· Then the team provided a party for the whole villagers. Sortie dropped ration and lambs for the party and for their provisions.

· The army officer said you live without government but your pastor and church serve as leaders. They were informed we belong to a Christian sect called Church of Christ.

· The Army Officer appointed Choagu (Diajo’s father) as Gaon Borah for the village. Another person, Loacha (P. Yobin’s father) was slated to be appointed as GB for the lower part of the village but for reasons unknown that did not happen.

· The team wanted to go upto Dawodi (now Vijoynagar). Two villagers, namely Loawi alias Akhi Yeliye (father of N. Yobin) and another person (did not get his name) accompanied them as guide.

· A memorial was engraved on a stone to mark their arrival in the village, located just above the football ground. Due to river erosion it was once shifted but later it was completely washed away and permanently disappeared.

RETURN

· The team stayed 7 days at Shidi and went back.

· Two Lisu men, Late Diajo (Losifa’s father) and Phamatse, went with the team for study at Khonsa. Unfortunately, they returned home soon after without pursuing further education.

· For the team, ration was dropped at Lashitselo about 5 km from Shidi. Hence the name of that area and the river was named after that ration drop. Lashitselo means “the river where ration was dropped”.

· The villagers bid farewell there and returned to Shidi. They were provided some supplies by the team.

· The next meeting with Indian authorities occurred the following year in 1962 with the construction of the Advanced Landing Ground and establishment of an Army base at Dawodi.