What Kind of MLA Do We Need?

The last two decades of our franchise exercise did not meet the aspirations of our people to reality. The two leaders we have had during this period, Samchom Ngemu and Kamlung Mossang, have not given sufficient priority to our needs. Look at this:

  • Scheduled Tribe (ST) Status: Both did deliver the desperate need for ST. They just did sketchy attempts and clearly did not take our case seriously. Now we know the status of our ST is in a mess. Particularly, I was surprised to hear Kamlung lying to our public about the ST status, again and again. Plus at one point he has convinced some of our public leaders that ST is secondary; PRC is important (a non sense).

  • Miao – Vijoynagar Road: The road was through once and few four-wheeled vehicles plied between Dec 2012 and Feb 2013. Later, the GoAP secured PMGSY funds for its construction, which remains frozen to this day. My point is, it took two decades to initiate construction since our voting rights was restored. That too, not by political process, but by the then Deputy Commissioner, Dr. S.B. Deepak Kumar, combined with high recommendation of the Gen (Rtd) J. J. Singh, Governor of Arunachal Pradesh. So where were our local representatives who held Cabinet roles in GoAP?

  • Land Demarcation with the Namdapha National Park: They have no idea how to resolve this issue. You cannot rely on them. I don’t know Samchom’s position on this issue, but Kamlung encouraged the villagers of Ngwazakha to continue even upto 27th Mile. But when the actual dispute arose with the wildlife and administration in Nov 2011, he was no where.

I clearly see they are no hope for our future. If they cannot give solutions to our basic survival and identity needs as above, how can they bring developments which are above survival?

We need visionary leaders who can shape the direction of our community and the lives of the people under Miao Assembly Constituency. Someone who can address our survival and identity needs and also provide solutions to our other struggles in the areas of medical (health), education, stronger administration, security and peace in the region.

My urge to all our people is to be very cautious in how we go about in the next State Assembly election. Use discretion and be wise. Let us not be waylaid by offers and incentives, thereby losing the community. Let our dreams live.

Vijoynagar Anchal Block: Statistics and Reservation for Women

District Level

There are 11 Blocks in Changlang District.

Name of Block

Name of Block

Bordumsa*

Changlang

Diyun*+

Vijoynagar+

Miao+

Kharsang*

Nampong

Jairampur

Manmao

Rimaputok

Khimiyang* +

(*) Reserved Zilla Parishad Member seats for women. (+) Reserved Anchal Samiti Chairperson for women. Diyun and Khimiyang Blocks received women in both leadership seats.

Block Level

Vijoynagar Anchal Block have four Anchal Samiti Member (ASM) seats. Majgaon was allotted a woman ASM seat. And Dawodi received a woman for Gram Panchayat Chairperson.

  1. Gandhigram
  2. Dawodi
  3. Majgaon
  4. Two Hut

Gram Panchayat Level

Name of GPC

No GPM

GPM Reserved for Women

Gandhigram

17

6

Dawodi

4

1

Majgaon

8

3

Two Hut

7

2

TOTAL

36

12

My Observations

  • The Panchayati Raj system is very concerned for providing a voice for women. 33% of the seats are reserved for them. If they are interested they can challenge men even if they are not allotted.
  • Allotting seats and proper designations are the functions of the administration (Deputy Commissioner). While the contesting is a political process.
  • Two rules referred for Panchayat Raj:
    • Delimitation of Constituencies and Reservation of seats for Women Rules-2002
    • Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act-1997
  • Read more about Panchayati Raj for Arunachal Pradesh.

References

Notification by the Deputy Commissioner, Dated: 9/4/2013 (the reservation of seat of Zilla Parishad for women under Changlang district).

Notification by the Deputy Commissioner, Dated: 9/4/2013. (Reservation of seats to the offices of Anchal Samity Chairperson for women under Changlang district).

Notification by the Deputy Commissioner, Dated: 4/4/2013 (Reservation of seats of ANCHAL SAMITY MEMBERS for women within 08- VIJOYNAGAR).

Notification by the Deputy Commissioner, Dated: 4/4/2013 (Reservation of seats to the offices of Gram Panchayat Chairperson for women within 08- VIJOYNAGAR Anchal Block).

Notification by the Deputy Commissioner, Dated: 4/4/2013. (Reservation of seats to the offices of Gram Panchayat Member for women within 08- VIJOYNAGAR Anchal Block).

Notification by the Deputy Commissioner, Dated: 4/4/2013. Reservation of seats to the offices of Gram Panchayat Member for women within 08- VIJOYNAGAR Anchal Block).

Vijoynagar under ENPO?

I heard the Greater Nagalim is claiming Tirap and Changlang Districts belong to them and their demand is for a separate country of their own. But today I read a very different story, ENPO is demanding a separate state! See the report from the Home Ministry:

2.3.2012 The Eastern Naga Peoples Organization (ENPO), an apex body of six Naga tribes has raised the demand for creation of a separate State comprising the four eastern districts of Nagaland (Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire and Longleng) and two districts (Tirap and Changlang) of Arunachal Pradesh, with a special status within the Indian Union.

Another interesting note on ENPO:

Complicating issues further is the Eastern Naga Peoples Organization (ENPO), an apex body of six Naga tribes in Nagaland, again raising the demand for the creation of a separate ‘Frontier Nagaland’ State comprising the four eastern Districts of Nagaland (Mon, Tuensang, Kiphire and Longleng), with a special status within the Indian Constitution. The demand has already been turned down by both the Centre and the State Government. Further, NSCN-KK has threatened ENPO on the issue of Frontier Nagaland. The demand was first raised in the year 2010.  ENPO has also rejected the State Government’s offer of an autonomous council, regional council and economic package, in lieu of ‘Frontier Nagaland’.

This is good news that the Center turned down their demand. Otherwise, there will be further unrest with fights with this group and the AP Govt.

Source:

Annual Report 2012-13 (page 14), Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India (accessed: 15 August 2013).

Nagaland Assessment – Year 2013, SOUTH ASIA TERRORISM PORTAL (accessed: 15 August 2013).

Aspirations Not Protected

This letter critics the policy of the Central Government for flooding outsiders in Changlang, Tirap and Longding Districts, thereby disturbing the local population. Interesting review that the author even recognizes the injustice the Yobins are facing as a result of this policy. I’ll say the policy of the State Government too contributes to this problem, especially when it comes to the Yobin. The State has lots of power to address our issues – like taking up ST demand, speeding MV Road constructions, providing student needs — but are they interested? Read on – Liahey.

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

Source: By K. Mossang (Arunachal Front).

Sir, The former Arunachal Pradesh governor, JJ Singh, had clearly stated in some local dailies that peace in the eastern districts of the state is dependent on the Indo–Naga peace talks. It is unfortunate that the people have to continually suffer from the current turmoil in the eastern districts of the state – Tirap, Changlang and Longding – until peace agreement is reached between the two parties. However, there seems no apparent gain for the local people even if the final solution is found. People are carrying another man’s burden in vain. Changlang in particular has been the most affected by the biased action of the Centre and the state. The central government has committed gross negligence with blatant disregard for the interest of the natives by flooding the district with Bangladeshi and Tibetan refugees apart from settling Nepalese ex-servicemen in Vijaynagar area instead of recognizing the local Lisu people as a scheduled tribe under the constitution. All these indicate mistrust on part of the central government of the people living in the area given its nearness to the international border with China and Myanmar. Now, more than 50 percent of the population of Changlang constitutes migrant refugees – Bangladeshi Chakmas, Hajongs, Tibetans and Nepalese. The Centre has totally failed to protect the aspirations of locals guaranteed by the Constitution. People have always shown their solidarity with the people of the district on the issue but the state government has not been sincere enough. The people have been left alone in this fight. At this hour of need the people of the districts require support from the fellow citizens of state. How can the government expect people to confront the anti-social elements when the state has all machinery at their disposal? The role of social media that could have immensely contributed in creating an environment of self awareness amongst the mass has been limited by poor telecommunication, road connectivity and lack of electricity. The district headquarters is still at the mercy of the lone BSNL network which mostly remains out of order. Yours etc, K Mossang, Itanagar

Tirap and Changlang Districts Declared as “Disturbed Areas”

Last updated: 20 August 2013

I read this in news few years ago, but did not realize it was Gazetted by the Ministry of Home Affairs. It was declared from March 2011 and later extended to October 1, 2011. That explains now why there were so many army personnel on the road from Jagun to Miao those days.

Then I read the news release from Press Information Bureau and learned that the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) is usually enforced in “Disturbed Areas” in Changlang and Tirap Districts (PIB, 9 August 2011).

The Wikipedia (accessed: 19 August 2013) provided a very good summary about the AFSPA:

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), was passed on September 11, 1958, by the Parliament of India. It is a law with just six sections granting special powers to the armed forces in what the act terms as “disturbed areas” .The Act has been at the heart of concerns about human rights violations in the regions of its enforcement , where arbitrary killings, torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and enforced disappearances have happened.

This description scared me and realized what dangerous area we live. I hope and pray that none of our people have to face the blunt of army operations.

The Gazette of India (No. 632, Ministry of Home Affairs) stated the reasons for declaring our districts as “Disturbed Areas”. The incidents mentioned are further scary and such declaration sound very justifiable. More about that in this link.

Too remote for politicians to go

Source: By Sushanta Talukdar (The Hindu, Apr 11th, 2009, accessed 27 June 2013). 

Voters in Vijaynagar, Arunachal Pradesh, cannot recall having met a candidate yet

Vijaynagar: A bag of cement (50 kg) costs Rs. 3,000, a kilo of salt Rs. 30; mustard oil is Rs. 150 a litre. There are no roads, no electricity, no phones; and no ration shops, either. Twice a month, an AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force flies into Vijaynagar, the only contact with the outside world. Even this is irregular because of the unpredictable weather.

Snow capped Mugaphi hill overlooks the 13 villages of this remote and totally air-supplied administrative circle in Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh, which come under the Arunachal East Lok Sabha constituency. This must rank as one of the most remote areas of India where polling officials will set up booths.

lead1.jpg

 

Villagers waiting to board an IAF AN 32 plane in Vijaynagar, Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh. Photo: RITU RAJ KONWAR

lisa.jpg

A Lisu tribesman with his children. Photo: RITU RAJ KONWAR

The 3000-odd voters of the 5,000-plus population here on the India-Myanmar border are ready to vote: however, they don’t know who the candidates are — no one has come here to campaign. Nobody seems to remember the last time a candidate visited their area for campaigning. They do send agents, but the difficulty in reaching the area and the small numbers of voters lead them to give it a miss. The population is a mix of Lisu tribals, who migrated from Myanmar in the early 1930s, and Nepalis, most of who are families of ex-servicemen of the Assam Rifles settled by the Indian Government from 1964 to 1969 in this valley.

The Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at an altitude of 4,200 feet is considered one of the toughest landing grounds by IAF pilots; whenever the AN-32 lands the villagers rush to the airstrip, hoping to get a chance to be among the 10-12 passengers, who fly down to Mohanbari airport in upper Assam’s Dibrugarh district from where they can travel to the nearest town Miao, and the district headquarters, Changlang.

Vijaynagar is surrounded by Myanmar on all sides. On an average, not more 20-25 people can fly out every month. The incoming flights bring a maximum of 24 passengers and registered parcels and rations for government staff. Patients get priority on the flights.

For those who can’t find a seat on the flight, there is only one alternative: a six-day trek through the thick jungles of Namdapha National Park to reach Miao. The 157-km long Miao-Vijaynagar road was motorable till 1976, but it has fallen into disrepair since. The villagers hire Chakma refugees to bring goods from Miao on head loads or on elephant back for which they have to cough up Rs 50 a kilo, which explains the exorbitant prices. Vijaynagar is yet to be covered by landline or mobile phone networks. The Circle Office had a satellite phone which went out of order in February this year. Each call made by the villager is charged Rs 50 plus Rs. 5 a minute.

“Every time we vote, we hope that the elected representative will do something to end this isolation. However, during his last term our MP Tapir Gao did not visit Vijayangar.

“Till now no agent of any candidate or political party has visited us. We have come to know that polling will take place on April 16. However, we still do not know who the candidates are this time,” said K.D. Yobin, the Secretary of the Vijaynagar Baazar Committee.

The voters are also yet to get their new Electors Photo Identity Cards; they are awaiting the arrival of the 30-member polling team which will make the necessary arrangements.

Miao (ST) Assembly Constituency and Leaders

Our people came in contact with this political constituency in 1995, after a gap of fifteen years. Since we became heavily involved with its political processes. I summarize basic information about our constituency.  

  • Two Circles, Vijoynagar and Miao, make up this constituency. Population of Vijoynagar is 3,988 and Miao 20,266 (Wikipedia), which is about 17:83 ratio. Perhaps, this delimitation came in 2008 (Delimitation  Of Parliamentary And Assembly Constituencies Order, 2008).
  • Congress Party dominated this power seat. Data available from 1990 till date, Congress candidate took over. So unless another stronger political party comes to the picture, the Congress will continue to hold the power in the days to come.
  • From 1980s till now, two Congress candidates ruled: Samchom Ngemu and Kamlung Mossang. Ngemu was in power till 2003. During his tenure, no one could win him. But strangely, he no more contested. I wonder why. After that Kamlung Mossang came in power and he is still the current MLA from our constituency. KK Muklom is the only one who challenged both of them as Independent candidate but lost both times.
  • In the 2004 State Assembly election, Miao Constituency had 16,018 voters. 10,523 casted their votes and Mossang overtook Muklom by a margin of 651 votes.

Highlights of the two leaders:

  • Ngemu: at the start of his career, we saw the cut off of our Indian citizenship. But our basic right of citizenship was restored in 1994. We began to participate in Panchayati Raj. He also proposed a separate border block for Vijoynagar in the cabinet. He worked with the YTWC.
  • Mossang: He helped many patients – many got medical treatments. He helped some students; I was one of those whom he helped. Vijoynagar Anchal Block was declared in March 2013. He secured a settlement for Lisu at the LC Line. The construction of the MV Road started. He strengthened the Congress in our society and worked only through the Congress workers.

Both did not answer for our Scheduled Tribe status.

History of Panchayati Raj Among the Lisu/Yobin

Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it — George Santayana.

SUMMARY

Only recently I am learning a bit about this leadership in our society. This is not complete, but I share this in the hope to refine further as I learn better.

I wonder how many of the younger generation know the Panchayati System among us began as early as 1975. At that time, Simi (father of Sisahey) was the Anchal Samiti Member (ASM). Along with him five people served as Gram Panchayat Member (GPM): Late Lasayo, Late Hophaka (father of Jephasay), Duchasi, Yoaphu (incumbent ZPM) and Late Sifusi. They were the pioneers in this leadership. Unfortunately, subsequent to their term in 1980, all the privileges we had were withheld.

After twenty three years of depriving the Panchayati facilities, it was once again restored in May 2003, immediately after the then CM, Mukut Mithi took interest on our behalf. Two ASM positions were created for us. The Shidi seat was reserved for women, so Mrs Yomadwe (better known as Achimadwe) was elected as the ASM. From Dawodi/Hazolo, Ngwalosay took on the position. (Note: It took 8 years to restore Panchayati Raj after the Indian Citizenship was returned in 1995).

For the next term, Mr Phusa (President of YTWC) from Shidi and Mrs Yomanu from Dawodi/Hazolo led our people. They functioned from 2008 until recently.

The current term saw a big change. The Zilla Parishad Member seat was created for Vijoynagar Anchal Block. And Mr Yoaphu won the election. But the ASM seats remained the same; did not add as promised. Brothers Osini from Shidi and Ngwayosi from Dawodi/Hazolo became ASMs.

REFLECTIONS

  • Vijoynagar Anchal Block is going to function without infrastructures. There is no bank, no Block Development Officer (BDO), no Extra Assistant Commissioner (EAC), no Extension Officers (PA, Cashier etc). It looks like the authorities have provided this block for name sake.
  • Why was no additional ASM seat allotted? I heard from various sources, the promised ASM seats were 6 for Lisu and 5 for Nepali. Now the authorities were saying “next term”. This is very intentional suppression for the people of Vijoynagar.
  • I heard in other circles of the Khagam Block, one ASM was allotted for 500 head count. If ASM seat is provided as per the population, just among Lisu we should have at least seven.

 

Yobin/Lisu Categorized as “Other Settlers”

Last updated: 12 August 2013

According to the District Administration of Changlang District, the Yobins/Lisus are “Other Settlers” (as on June 8, 2013) along with Deori, Hajong, Chakma and Tibetans. About a year ago I wrote to the officer to clarify this categorization. But I did not receive any response, only a complete silence.

Its time to demand for the concrete reasons. Who are aboriginals of Vijoynagar/Dawodi other than Yobin/Lisu? The District Administration is forgetting the Government of India came to our land. Then how can we be “other settlers”?

Then I also read in another page of the District site with this description (as on August 10, 2013), “The Singphos occupy the plain foothills area of northern part of the district under Miao, Bordumsa and Diyun circles. The Tutsas live in the western part of the district under Changlang and Khimiyong circles. Other tribes who have migrated to the district are Noctes (APST), Lisus (Yobin), and Deoris. The Tibetans, Chakmas and Hajongs came as refugees.” 

Why is the administration do not want to include us as “aboriginal” as they did in their gazetteers of 1980? What have changed? See the bold lines. Nocte have traditional land in Tirap District. Deori have their primary land in Assam. What happen to the traditional land of Yobin in Vijoynagar? What do the administration think have we migrated from?

Between July and August 2013, at least two of our friends have contacted the District Informatics Officer of Changlang District and asked for clarifications for including us under “Other Settlers”. The officer did not have clear explanation except that we are still not recognized as Scheduled Tribe. He promised to further clarify with his superiors. 

In the past, we are known for not following up consistently because we did live far away from towns and did not have access. But its changing now. We are not giving up on anything, including this wrong categorization by our own  District Administration.

And on 12 August 2013, the website changed the categories from “Other Settlers” to “Other Tribes & Dwellers”. And instead of “Aboriginal tribes” they changed to “Major Tribes”. See under “People” (as on 12 August 2013).

Vijoynagar Anchal Block and ZPM Election

Border Block

On 16 May 2013, about 6,000 people of Vijoynagar circle – Lisu and Nepali – voted for a ZPM seat for the first time. It was a dream come true for the people of fourteen villages (see list below, Census 2011).

But its declaration of a separate block bifurcation came in short notice. It was announced just three months before the Panchayati Raj election. Everything was in a hurry. No additional ASM seats were allotted because “there was no time”.

The proposal for a separate block for Vijoynagar Circle began in the late 1990s when S. Ngemu was the MLA.

With this declaration, the Vijoynagar Circle and Vijoynagar Anchal Block became synonymous.

ZPM Election

Zilla Parishad Member (ZPM) election process took interesting turns. In the first phase, six candidates ran after Congress party ticket – five from Lisu (Yoaphu, Liakhu, Chizoni, Khiyosa and Yomali) and one from Nepali (Bhim). Lots of campaign and negotiation took place among the Congress leadership. After much deliberation, the party ticket was allotted to Yoaphu.

For this ZPM seat, the Nepali leaders decided not to contest at all. It all left to the Lisu to contest among them. Four candidates contested: Yoaphu (Congress) and three independent – Chizoni, Ngwalosay and Simiye. We all know Yaophu won by majority as he has support of both from Nepali and Lisu. It is noteworthy that I heard, Chizoni got majority votes from the Lisu voters.

My observations

  • Nepali leaders are more strategic when it comes to elections. They fielded just one candidate for party candidates, whereas, we had five, some even having even a support. As obvious, if Nepali leaders decided to contest this election, there is no way Yoaphu will hold this position.
  • Our Lisu people really consider politics as real games. You saw some of our candidates contested for this position without having any political experience nor had leadership position.

Not much to be proud

While this is good news for us. There is not much to hope.

There is still not much power granted to the Panchayati Raj as is given in other states. The Legislative Assembly members wield all the powers.

Vijoynagar Block does not have a bank to transact money, no communication technology, nor news. There is not much that will happen. No administrative support is still in place. Neither the road communication to be able to take advantage of the facilities available through Panchayati provisions.

Appendix: Villages in Vijoynagar Block

NO VILLAGE LISU/NEPALI
1 Dawodi Lisu
2 Gandhigram Bl.I & II Lisu
3 Hazolo Lisu
4 Sidikuh Lisu
5 Vijoynagar H.Q. Lisu, Nepali
6 Buddhamandir Nepali
7 Chidudi Nepali
8 Daragaon Nepali
9 Gaherigaon Nepali
10 Mazgaon Nepali
11 Phaparbari Nepali
12 Ramnagar Nepali
13 Topihill Nepali
14 Twohut Nepali