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.

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