ITANAGAR, 5 Mar: Hundreds of people of different tribes took part in a peaceful rally organized by the Tribal Identity Movement (TIM) on Friday, demanding that the state government effectively implement the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion (APFR) Act, 1978, to protect the tribal identity and indigenous religions.
The rally started from RK Mission Hospital and culminated at IG Park here.
The participants, mostly Donyi-Polo believers, waved flags and sang hymms throughout the march in different dialects like Nyishi, Apatani, Adi, Galo, Tagin, Sajolang, Mishmi, Khamti, etc, which was punctuated now and then by slogans of “Dharam ki raksha kaun karega? Hum karega, hum karega!” “Long live Donyi-Polo!” and “Loss of culture, loss of identity.”
The TIM in a pamphlet stated that the objective of the movement “is to create awareness among the tribal people of their religious, cultural and identity values.”
It stated that rituals, histories and festivals of the tribal people “are being diluted due to external influences.”
“This movement is to protect our tribal identity, as we felt our culture is threatened. I want to ask the world, even preachers: if I burn down your religious books, would you approve it?” said Dr Ligu Tacho, founding member of the Arunachal Indigenous Faith and Culture.
“I saw on Facebook that some sections of people were burning down our Donyi-Poloism altars while converting people into their religion. It hurts us,” Dr Tacho added.
The organization demanded that the state government implement the APFR Act, 1978, effectively, “so that no foreign religion would encroach on the tribal religions and cultures.” It opined that the existing act is most secular in nature.
“Our DNA and their DNAs are the same. I don’t know why they don’t come to our festivals. They should come. We welcome everyone, whoever comes,” said TIM member Debang Tayeng, without naming any particular religious group.
“We appeal to the government to implement the Arunachal Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act, 1978, effectively, so that we can protect our cultures and religion. This act was passed in 1978 and the gazette notification was also issued,” Tayeng added.
He claimed that the act is “vital for census enumeration,” especially for indigenous faith believers.