Bridge washed away before inauguration

No action yet on this highlight from the news released on the frontpage of AP Times, 7 September 2016. What the contractors did was once again removed the blockade. No better bridge is being built. What a stubborn government we have in this part of the country.

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Photo by Aphu A. Ngwazah

ITANAGAR, Sep 6: One end of the RCC Bridge on Pagla Nallah at M Pen-1 on Miao-Vijoynagar road has been completely washed away leaving the bridge stranded on one side of the nallah.
This long awaited bridge at M’Pen-I, 6 miles off Miao town, was opened for light vehicles few months ago giving much to the relief of the users of the road, but before its formal inauguration.
However, the bridge is no more usable. It is stuffed with filth and debris.
This small Nallah swells violently when it rains. Many people have lost bicycles, loads of articles to this river while crossing it. A young girl of 7th Mile was also reportedly drowned in the river.
Now, crossing the Nallah has become a challenging task again. Countless people had to stop their journey at the Nallah.
The 157 km road serves as lifeline for the people of remote Vijoynagar in Changlang district.

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Four dead, six injured as lightning strikes Gandhigram

This incident shocked all our people. In fact this felt for the whole State by highlighting in the front page (AP Times, 6 June 2017). Those succumbed to death and those injured are all familiar and close relatives. Great loss to all of us.

A quick relief was organized by concerned authorities and evacuated the injured early next day, landing at Gandhigram, ignoring formalities of landing ground.

As far as I recount, there was one such incident some years ago when Bolakhi was struck on a sunny day while ploughing his fields.

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[ Indrajit Tingwa ]

MIAO, Jun 5: Four persons were reportedly killed when a lightning struck following a thunderstorm while working at a farm in Gandhigram in Vijoynagar circle on Monday at around 11 AM.

Reportedly, the incident occurred when the people were gathered to extend help in a fellow villager’s farm.

At least six other persons, including students are said to have received injuries and are in critical requirement of medical attention. The administration, till the filing of this report has been making fervent arrangements to evacuate the injured.

The dead have been identified as Jalina Yobin (12), Chanisa Yobin (14), Chathaye Yobin (13) and Sholida Yobin (38).

Among the injured are four women, one man and an eight year old boy.

Air service is the only option to carry out immediate evacuations from a place like Gandhigram, which takes at least four to five days of trekking to cover a distance of over 100 kilometre to reach the nearest town of Miao. Even if a helicopter is pressed into service, the nearest helipad is about 25 kilometres from Gandhigram, and the administration is making arrangements to make a temporary landing ground.

Chief Minister Pema Khandu in a late night message said chopper service will be made available on 6th June to Vijoynagar to evacuate the injured persons. He directed the district administration to immediately provide all possible assistance to the victims.

Pema, while expressing deep sorrow over the unfortunate incident has announced immediate release of ex-gratia to the next of kin according to the laid down norms.

While appealing to the people to be cautious during monsoon which creates havoc every year and claims precious lives, the Chief Minister advised all to be in preparedness to tackle such natural calamity.

Yobins and their tryst with APST

The following article at the AP Times Readers’ Forum (30 May 2017) is in response to the AAPSU’s discussion (28 May) of “ST Status of the Yobins/Lisus” in the context of Refugees and Settlers.

The Government of AP unjustly committed injustice against the Yobins once again.

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Dear Editor,

We want to ask everybody never again to discuss Indigenous Yobin issue in the category of Refugees or Settlers. It is a pain to read Yobin tagged in such situation time and again. Please get these facts straights:

1. Did you know that Yobin people have never migrated into India? Yobins have been aborigines of Dawodi (Vijoynagar) area long before the area was annexed into NEFA? And are you aware that the international boundary around Vijoynagar was finalized with Burma only in 1972? And Yobin tribe played a crucial role then which has been recorded.

2. Did you know that it was only on May 7th 1961, Lisu Sidi Village was re-named as Gandhigram and the flag of India was unfurled for the first time in Gandhigram?

3. Are you aware that YOBIN Scheduled Tribe is fully covered under Presidential Order 1956, -“Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes Lists (Modification) Order, 1956”. Sc III, Part-II, 2. And such has been the interpretation by the Law Ministry, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, Office of the Registrar Genral of India, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs.

4. You may not be aware that while there are 106 tribes in AP, only 16 names are in the Notified ST List of Arunachal Pradesh! But the State Legislature rightfully extends ST benefits to all the indigenous tribes of the State. Yobin is gazetted as a Scheduled Tribe.

There are a lot more evidences available. You could ask all the questions you want at yobinsata@rediffmail.com.

Of course the Yobin ST Notification was practically withdrawn since March 2017. And this was done for there was a Procedural Error. But in the same letter that came from MTA / Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the Ministry clearly wrote that ” But the People is Scheduled Tribe”. And the Ministry has asked Govt of Arunachal to send a Comprehensive ST List of AP. And this work is under process. Ref: MTA LETTER NO 16014/9/2015-C & LM-1. Dated 08/03/2016. New Delhi.

So, Yobin is never ever demanding APST! We already are. We are just claiming what is already ours constitutionally. And the matter is under procedural correction. That is all.

Once again, let us tell you, if you are questioning Yobin’s Tribal Arunachal Identity, you are either exhibiting ignorance or going against the Presidential Order. It is true that Yobin Tribe has been sidelined, marginalized, maligned, and misrepresented for over 40 years now! The tribe is heavily afflicted for reasons not told to the tribe, yet the tribe is not destroyed. The community is very much alive and well. God has not forsaken the community.

So, all good hearted fellow Arunachalees are requested to champion Yobin’s genuine cause. We shall overcome someday!

Yours,

Aphu A Ngwazah.

Gandhigram

AYSU Delegation to Itanagar

Photo of AYSU Delegation (Left to Right): Shokoye, Yofuna, Nomasay, Salina, Dilihey, Josawu, Sosadi, Ngwazosa, Lewadi and Gujusa

The All Yobin Students Union (AYSU) made a purposeful visit to Itanagar from 2 – 11 June 2017. The team met several key officers and leaders –Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, AAPSU President, Education Minister, BJP State President, BJP State Gen Secy, AITF General Secy and our Local Minister. The discussion with the Education Minister was published at AP Times Readers Forum.

A detailed deliberation with the Chief Minister on 8th June took place. The team forwarded for news release to the newspapers (AP Times & Eastern Sentinel) twice but did not appear. Below is the summary of the meeting with Chief Minister:

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The Yobin have a lot of unresolved issues left unattended by the government during the last four decades. With these areas that require immediate action, the executive members of the All Yobin Students Union (AYSU) called on the Chief Minister, Pema Khandu at his chamber on 8th June. The AYSU was accompanied by the local MLA cum Minister of WRD Shri Kamlung Mossang. A memorandum was submitted for the following grievances.

1. First, for restoration of the Scheduled Tribe status to the Yobins. The GoAP notified Yobin as ST by the Extra Ordinary Gazette (no. 82, vol xxii dated: 30 March 2015) but the Article 342 has been misapplied in the case of Yobins. Objection was to the misapplication of the law, NOT to the tribe. Hence, that order was cancelled on 25 January 2017 but the government did not provide any option to relief our problem. The CM assured to take up with the Central Government to make this reality at the earliest as he had done earlier. He convened a meeting on Yobin ST issue on 21 April and the matter taken to the Govt of India.

2. Second, for the Miao-Vijoynagar Road to be completed soon. Since the road completed in 1975, it was not maintained, the road therefore became almost untraceable. A PMGSY scheme provided fund with the laying of foundation stone by the then Union Rural Minister Jairam Ramesh in 2011. Unfortunately, the tender was given to contractors, instead of the demand of the public to be given to BRO. As feared, the work never progressed till today. We still have to walk four days on foot. Nothing changed during the last 6 years. The CM sympathized with our struggles in road communication. He promised a special meeting will be called on the 22 June to take this case forward.

3. Third, for the Settlers of Vijoynagar to be restricted to the land the government has allotted. The Assam Rifles Ex-Service Settlers were brought in to Vijoynagar in the 1960s. Specific plots of land were provided for them both for residence and agricultural purposes on a lease of 30 years, with tax to be paid to government. The first renewal was done in 1990 and the next due in 2020. But now the settlers are coming out of their settlement areas and encroaching our land. These illegal activities were reported to the local administration, Circle Officers. No decisions and action has been taken to safeguard the indigenous people. This problem was reported to the CM and requested that action to be taken so that the Settlers would confine and be satisfied with the land the government allotted them and not beyond and disturb the local harmony. The CM would do a study and call on a decision.

We grateful to the HCM for his kindness and willingness to look into the needs people of this border area. We look forward to see the promises fulfilled and provide us relief from current difficulties.

Gandhiji’s Statue at Shidi

Photo: Gandhi Statue at Shidi (Taken by: Ahdi Mark and Friends)

Photo: Inscription on the Gandhi Statue at Shidi (Taken by: Ahdi Mark and Friends)

This statue of Gandhi at Shidi village made milestone in our history.

First, this indicated once for all that Shidi village falls within the territory of Independent India. One source told this was installed in 1972 (date not found in the statue). If that were true, this is immediately before or after the international border demarcations with the Burma government was completed.

Second, the name of the village was changed from Shidi to Gandhigram. Shidi in local dialect means, “fields of grass” (a kind of grass used for roofing the house). But since the coming of the statue until today, the village is known officially as Gandhigram, though all villagers still use Shidi amongst them.

For those who have not seen it, this is located within the church compound, which is located at the center of the village.

I wonder why at Shidi village this was installed. Could it be because the Indian Army first met the Lisu people at Shidi on 7th May 1961?

Older people told me a special helicopter brought this statue.

Photo: PC Lal (IAF)

The person who unveiled it was a high profile officer. I came to know about him only after reading Whos who in the Indian Air Force at a General Knowledge book. After digging a bit more, I found the following about him.

  • His full name: Pratap Chandra Lal
  • Served as Chief of the Air Staff from 1969 to 1973
  • He has written a biography, finally completed by his wife called “My Years with the IAF” published in 1983.
  • More about him at Indian Air Force site.
  • Perhaps, at that time none of the villagers might know such an important person came to unveiled the status.

Some stories Phamatse, an 80 year old man shared the following on 29 Nov 2016:

A Carebo plane was specifically consigned to transport to Vijoynagar Headquarter and on the same night, it was brought to Shidi by two PWD staffs. Along with it, the Circle Officer wrote a letter to the Headmaster of Govt. Middle School of Shidi village, Mr Bor Saikia, to find some people and paste the inscription on the Statue body that was already completed. Phamatse joined them.

Also he remembers the day PC Lal came. Mr Lal spoke briefly about the significance of that statue and that he has two years to retire from his post.

Another elderly person, Motika (about 75 years) said two helicopters came on the day PC Lal came to unveil the Gandhi Statue. The helicopters landed at School Play ground.

For the school students, this is an important location to pay homage on every Independence Day and the Republic Day.

And this site will continue to play a part of our society’s life even in the days to come.

Mugaphi Team: Won Runner Up Cup in Miao

Our team reached a historic moment in football this year. We got Second Place trophy at the Miao Independence Tournament 2016 from among the 28 teams. Another proud moment is when Jolisa (in pic with cup) received the Best Player Award.

A person narrated to me some years ago, we never won a single match. In fact those days, one team returned with 0 to 11 goals and later with 0 to 7 goals. We began winning one match in 2014; two matches in 2015; and four matches in 2016. This is big leap for us.

Courtesy: Facebook [STANDING – Dhanwar, Tiyoye, Bayosa (Captain), Dilisay, Akhi Josali, Phiyosa, Yodawu, Bilija and Adi Jolisa; SITTING – Papu (Manager), Fulakhi, Gujosa, Tweni, Jolidi, Athiye, Gelisa, Tsisa and Ngwayotsi (Coach)]

Teams we have challenged this year:

Match Played with Scored Goals Result
Mugaphi vs New Khamlang 5 – 1 Winner
Mugaphi vs Ralungkan 5 – 1 Winner
Mugaphi vs M’pen 4 – 2 Winner
Mugaphi vs Scorpion Return 3 – 0 Winner
Mugaphi vs Upper Miao 1 – 3 Lost

Trophy with Flag in background

What Contributed to this success? I could think of a couple of factors:

· Our boys have taken interest and improved their football skills over the years.

· Four experienced players joined from our villages and a keeper from outside.

· Good leadership given by Manager, Coach and Miao Yobin Welfare Association. Support by Yobin people.

Why did we loss the Final Match with the Upper Miao FC?

· They are really good players. They played much better than most of our boys. We have much to pick up from them in terms of speed, passing and strategies.

· Another setback for our team was lack of diet knowledge. Our boys had lunch with beef curry just 3 hours before the match. That reduced speed and generated heat. As a result our team cannot run and due to thirst they drank lots of water. If this blunder had not happen, the match would have been much livelier.

What Should We do For Next Year? I overheard the following from our gatherings before and after each football match.

· We must develop good goalkeepers.

· Our boys should be trained is striking goals. We have slow and weak shots.

· Passing is still weak. We should aim at quick and correct passes.

· Play tactics and strategies is still at baby stage.

Now we are good in running, long shots, heading. Our team did not get even a single card. That is good sign of players. If we develop the above, we would play well.

This tournament received much news coverage on the Mugaphi team.

FC Gara XI, Mugaphi Vijaynaga win (ET Correspondent, 30 July 2016, The Eastern Today)

Mugaphi Vijaynagar thrashes Ranglungkan FC 5-1, enters quarters (Indrajit TIngwa, 7 August 2016, The Eastern Today)

INDEPENDENCE CUP FOOTBALL TOURNAMENT 2016 : Mugaphi Vijaynagar and UMFC enter the finals (By Indrajit Tingwa, 13 August 2016, Dawnlitpost)

Students union threatens agitation over buffer zone issue

The one sided approach of the Tiger Authority seems to be consistent even in other areas too. Here is one strategy we can use to challenge the undemocratic declaration of the Tiger Reserve and its buffer zone in our villages which they declared as Namdapha. (AP Times, 2 August 2016)

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ITANAGAR, Aug 1: All Pakke-Kessang Pijerang Dissing-Passo Seijosa Students’ Union (APPDSSU), which has been demanding to revoke the order declaring the areas around Pakke Tiger Reserve as buffer zone/ Eco-Sensitive Zone, has threatened to launch democratic movement, if the authority does not pay heed to their demands

Claiming that majority of the residents of the concern area oppose it, the union, in a representation, demanded the Chief Secretary to constitute a high power committee with people of the affected area within a week and also to ask the department concerned to form an expert committee with affected people to study the matter seriously.

The union alleged that the declaration was made arbitrarily whereas the limits of such areas should be determined on the basis of scientific and objective criteria in consultation with the Gram Sabha and expert committee. But with regards to this instant case, these criteria were not maintained and blatantly overlooked.

BJP stages rally, demands better roads

Good to see at least one rally to demand for the betterment of roads yesterday. Many more such are needed.

One of the highlights from the speakers at that public rally was COMPLETE lack of transparency and accountability by the ruling government. For examples:

· I heard that the Buri Dihing bridge (bridge via Balinong to Namsai) has been under construction for the last 15 years. Almost completed but now another business is going on where one person constructed a bamboo bridge and collects revenue at Rs 60 per head.

· Miao to Namchik Road remains incomplete even after four years. Namchik to Jagun remains no man’s road. Glad to hear at the rally there will be a question on who will construct.

· Lastly on MV Road. Thanks to this political party. Not one voice we have raised on our own. They did for us.

I look forward to the TWO MONTHS ultimatum served in the memorandum. What will be next?

Read more on this from the news item by Indrajit Tingwa (AP Times, 2 August 2016).

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MIAO, Aug 1: The Bharatiya Janata Party, Miao Unit on Monday took out a peaceful protest rally to press for early completion and maintenance of roads under 50-Miao assembly constituency.

Prior to the rally which commenced from Miao Bazaar and concluded at the ADC’s office, a brief public meeting was conducted where the party leaders expressed their resentment over the prevailing bad communication network in the constituency. Almost all the roads in Miao Sub-Division are in a dilapidated state for lack of maintenance or not being completed on time.

In a memorandum, the BJP Miao Unit stated that common people are suffering a lot due to pathetic road communication.

BJP Miao Unit gave two months to complete the road construction.

Responding to the public memorandum, ADC Miao T.Mara said that the bad road connectivity was not only affecting the lives of the common man but even the government functionaries and departments. He assured to do his part in forwarding the grievances of the people to the government for early redressal.

The incomplete roads are 157 kilometres Miao-Vijaynagar Road , which is currently being constructed under PMGSY scheme, Miao-Namchik Road whose construction have been going on for some time now and is the life-line of Miao Sub-Division, sanctioned under NLCPR and the village link roads and the bridge over Buri-Dihing which started construction about a decade back but yet to be completed.

The members of BJP Miao Unit led by Hunpong Tangha, President of the mandal, the members of Yuva Morcha were present besides District President Ngyilang Tangha, General Secretary District Unit Gumjanong Singpho and Chamjong Haidley who was the party candidate from Miao during last assembly election.

State Executive Council member Thiksal Morang and National Executive Council member and former minister Samchom Ngemu were also in attendance.

Lisu in Miao

Miao is a kind of “transit camp” for us. This is where we get basic necessities and carry them home to Shidi area. We get education for our children. And it functions as a station for us to receive medical care.

In 2011 a head count of our people was made by the YTWC leaders and found we had 140 adults to look after the 238 students (Published in Sentinel). All totaled to 378.

We made another census for the 2015-16. By then we have increased to 444 people including old and young. During that period five of our people died and buried in Miao. One was a student studying in Miao. Three people came for medical treatment but did not recover since they came to seek medical attention at the terminal stage. One woman died on her way from Shidi to Miao. Even this year several people are undergoing medical treatment.

Our boys and girls study in various schools in Miao. The highest numbers would be in Higher Secondary School, Light of the World, Town Middle School and Upper Middle School. Fewer students are in Primary School (New Singpho village), Little Tots School and Kendriya Vidyalaya.

I counted from the last year’s census for Class xi and xii. We had 16 girls and 9 boys for Eleven. I assume the number of students for class xii would not change much since admission to Class xii is rare. There were 30 students for class xii last year – 15 boys and 15 girls.

Our population here is very fluid meaning we keep moving on. Students leave on completing their course of studies. Patients go home once they are cured of their sickness. Villagers pick essential commodities and return to their villages. Less than 20 families with businesses/jobs are here on regular basis.

I wish this level of facilities available at Miao is possible to our people in Shidi area. That would allow our young to stay with parents. Patients can avail early detection of diseases. And also communicate better with the outside world. We are yet to see that day.

Photos of the Lisu Picnic at Miao

First time ever picnic together on the New Year of 2015. All transport vehicles were volunteered. The vehicles lined up near C. Lisu’s house and marched together from there with a flag infront.

The spot was a beautiful place on Nao Dihining river bank, at 4th mile.

On reaching the location, ladies became busy with preparation for curry.

Meanwhile, the men prepared meat

We also played games

Women preferred to stand on one side during games

Leaders of games in front

Meal time is memorable

Closing photo together… we were about 300.

There were traditional dance performances. I wish I had the photographs.