AYA founder member Koj Tajang passes away

Staff Reporter

ZIRO, 13 Apr: Founder member of the Apatani Youth Association (AYA), Koj Tajang Anthony, passed away on Friday after a prolonged illness. His last rites were performed on Saturday in his village in Ziro.

Tajang was one of the pioneers who always stood for the cause of the society, right from his youth as a student leader. Born on 9 April, 1958 in Dutta village, Tajang started his schooling at the then government middle school in Hija, passed the pre-university course from JN College Pasighat (E/Siang) in 1976, and graduated from St Anthony College, Shillong (Meghalaya) with economics honours in 1978.

As the founding general secretary of the Dutta Students’ Union, he was among the pioneers who played a key role in the establishment of the school in Dutta village in the early 1970s.

He was recognised and felicitated during the golden jubilee celebration of the government school in Dutta in February 2024 for his contributions to the society.

He also became the general secretary of the student union of the then government higher secondary school in Ziro in the undivided Subansiri district from 1972-73.

During his tenure, he led the remarkable movement against the discriminatory policy of granting hostel stipends to students of different villages in Ziro based on distances of the villages from the school.

Tajang also attended the All India Youth Forum in New Delhi in the early 1970s. Inspired by this event, he became the founding general secretary of the AYA in 1974. As the first general secretary of the association, he is well-known for his contribution towards the modernisation of the Apatani society.

As a youth leader, he successfully led revolutionary campaigns and reforms like banning child marriage, banning the orthodox customs of defacing with tattoos, nose plugs, etc. Other initiatives during his tenure were the widening of village roads and an awareness campaign on hygiene and sanitation by conducting social service in every village in the Apatani plateau.

After completing his higher studies, he joined government service as a statistical officer in 1978. He served the government in various capacities for about 38 years with distinction, and retired as the economics & statistics director. Following this, and devoted his time to his family and farming-related activities till the time of his demise.

Late Tajang’s family, friends and well-wishers deeply mourned his demise, and said that he would always be remembered.