Lessons from Arunachal

Monday Musing

[ Taba Ajum ]

The vandalizing of Durga’s idols in Doimukh just a day before the Durga puja festival in October this year had cast a big shadow over the whole celebration. But, to the credit of the Papum Pare police, they immediately arrested the accused involved in the crime and managed to calm the situation. The credit also must go to the members of the Hindu community, especially the Bengali people, who exhibited immense restraint and did not communalize the issue.
Considering the present situation in India, where right-wing fanatics give communal colour to even minor incidents, the way everyone handled the Doimukh incident deserves praise. Hopefully, the people involved in the antisocial act have already been punished, so that such an incident is not repeated. This kind of incident makes us hang our heads in shame.
The police investigation made it clear that the issue was not communal in nature. Also, the people involved in the act were reportedly under the influence of alcohol. But the incident exposed the communal polarization occurring in the state, at least on social media.
Though the police ruled out any communal angle, unfortunately, a section of the people, especially local Arunachalees who owe allegiance to various Sangh outfits, attempted to give a communal colour to the incident. These Arunachalees were defaming their own state on various social media forums. Their social media posts were extremely provocative in nature, and could have put the lives of Arunachalee people living outside the state in danger.
It was also worrying to see another section of Arunachalees supporting the act of vandalizing of the idols. This is not the Arunachal that we know. Our state is the most secular in terms of religious beliefs. Arunachal Pradesh must be the only place in the entire world where in a single family you will find members following different religions and living together peacefully. I know many families where one member follows the indigenous faith, while others are Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and even atheists.
For the tribal people, clanism is perhaps more important than religious beliefs. Religious secularism runs in our blood. Also, we should not allow outsiders to divide us on religious lines. Some people, in the guise of saving the indigenous culture and tradition of Arunachal Pradesh, are in fact diluting it and are trying to divide the tribal people on religious lines. They will try to divide the indigenous people for their own benefit – but remember, we have to live and die here only. The land, air and mountains belong to every indigenous people, irrespective of religions and tribes.
Therefore the indigenous people should strongly resist religious fanatics, irrespective of what religion they profess, be it Christianity, Hinduism, indigenous faith, Islam, or Buddhism. They say charity begins at home; therefore, within the family members, and also among friend circles, one should strongly resist those who attempt to create divisions based on religious, clan and tribe lines.
Also, there is a growing trend of hatred towards outsiders among the Arunachalees, which is another worrying development. This is mostly happening due to the massive influx of outsiders into the state. There is a large-scale migration of non-APSTs into the state. Especially with the start of the railway service, migration is increasing at a faster rate in the capital region. The situation in Tripura and Assam, where the indigenous people have become minorities due to the influx of outsiders, is further scaring the Arunachalees.
Adding to this, unemployment among the APST youths is extremely high, and they see outsiders as ‘job snatchers’. In today’s globalized world, it will be difficult to stop migration, and the only way to stop migration is to fight for every job. The local youths will have to be ready to work in every field. We can take the example of Mizoram, where the presence of outsiders is minimal as the Mizos can be seen working in every field without any hesitation. Therefore, instead of sitting at home and taking out their frustration on social media, the youths of Arunachal Pradesh should enter the job market and battle it out with the outsiders.