I would like to clarify on behalf of the 95-97% percent of the Adis who are against the merger of Mishings with Adis, that the majority of the Adis are against the plan by few members of the Adi community to merge Mishings with Adis. Let us refer to the 3–5% Adis who are trying to act against the mandate of the 95–97% of the remaining Adis as “3-5% pro merger Adis”.
The 3–5% pro merger Adis give a plethora or arguments to support their cause. Let us address as much of them as we can:
Argument no.1: The traditions and cultures of Adis and Mishings are closely related.
The truth: Most of the traditions and cultures of Adis and Mishings are different. Adis celebrate Aran (also called as Unying), Donggin, Etor, and Solung festivals whereas Mishings celebrate Ali Aye Ligang, Mishing Bihu, and Porag festivals. In terms of the traditional dresses, there is no resemblance between the traditional dresses of Mishings and Adis.
Argument no.2: Those 3-5% Adis who are fighting tooth and nail to bring Mishings under the Adi tribe give the argument that the languages of Adis and Mishings are almost similar (70–80% of the words match) and that we can understand each other.
The truth: We should know that understanding another language doesn’t mean that most of words of the two languages match. For example, my mother understands Assamese language and has no problem in communicating with an Assamese in Assamese language. But that doesn’t mean that most of the words of Adi and Assamese match. The reason my mother understands Assamese is that she grew up around Assamese speaking people. The same case applies in the case of Adis and Mishings who live together in the same locality. Adis and Mishings who live in the same village or town understand each other’s languages. But that doesn’t mean that most of the words (70–80% according to the 3–5% pro merger Adis) match. If the 3–5% pro merger Adis don’t agree with my argument, take some Mishings from Assam who have never interacted with Adis to an Adi village far from the Arunachal-Assam border (any Adi village in Siang, West Siang, or Upper Siang district will serve the purpose) and let them converse with the villagers. I am sure that this experiment will prove that only 10-20 percent words will match and that both the parties will have a great trouble in having a meaningful conversation.
Argument no.3: Supporters of merger of Mishings into Adi give the argument that if we can change the name of a tribe from Dafla to Nyishi and Galong to Galo, there should be no problem in including Mishings into Adi.
The truth: The 3–5% pro merger Adis should know that just as the names Dafla and Galong were changed to Nyishi and Galo, the name Abor was changed to Adi. The 3–5% pro merger Adis should know that changing names of tribes is different from merging two culturally and traditionally differences such as Adis and Mishings.
Argument no.4: ABK’s demand for issuing APST is only for the Mishings residing within the territory of Arunchal Pradesh and not the Mishings of Assam.
The truth: What’s the guarantee that other Mishings will not try get APST? We have already seen the same case before. Only few hundred Chakmas and Hajongs were given refuge initially. But now, their population in Arunachal is in hundreds of thousands. (Note: I am not comparing Mishings to Chakmas and Hajongs; Mishings are bonafide citizens of India. I used the example of Chakmas and Hajongs only to explain the possible exploitation of merging Mishings with Adis).
Argument no.5: Merger of Mishings and Adis will create an atmosphere of brotherhood and Adis will be benefit during times of emergency in Assam. For instance, our Mishing brothers will help us during accidents, bandh calls, and medical emergencies.
The truth: This argument absolutely makes no sense. If the feeling of brotherhood exists only when we are merged into a single tribe, then there can be no more selfish relationship than that. The feeling of brotherhood should exist even we don’t belong to the same tribe? Why can we help a Mishing patient in trouble in Pasighat without him becoming an Adi? And why can’t a Mishing from Assam help an Adi from Arunachal during an Assam bandh call while remaining a Mishing?
The fact that two tribes consider Abotani as their forefather or migrated from the same place doesn’t warrant that the two tribes should be merged. Adi, Galo, Nyishi, Tagin, and Apatani all consider Abotani as their forefather but Adis don’t try to merge with Galos and Apatani don’t try to merge with Tagins. We all migrated from China, but we don’t try to merge with one another.
Lastly, let us answer an important question: What will happen if we overlook the above points and merge Mishings with Adis?
Answer: Pandora’s box will be happened. Chakmas, Hajongs, and Tibetans will be encouraged to demand for citizenship with an even stronger voice. Tibetans will argue that if Mishings can be merged with Adis even when they don’t speak the same language, wear the same dresses, share the same culture, follow the same traditions, or celebrate the same festivals, why can the Tibetans be merged with Monpas when they speak the same Bhoti language, wear the same dresses, share the same culture, follow the same traditions, celebrate the same festivals?