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Dead are asking: who killed us?

It has been half a month since Risso Tari, Biki Ruja and Tsering Wangdi didn’t return home. They left their homes to join a protest movement involving indigenous people rights to protect their land. Their friends and everyone else returned. They should have been home by now. But, could not and would never be able to return alive in flesh and blood–they were killed. They are dead and buried six feet under. Not even their families got the chance to say final goodbyes.

It was time for the public to gather in solidarity to remember those lives taken, remind the State about the inhumane act against the protesters. Many hundreds have shown their love and support by joining the candlelight march; some wrinkled elders, school-going children, teenagers, youths. Precisely, it was a collective effort of the grieving families to host a candlelight memorial for the dead.

Each of us in a queue divided into two rows with a candle. The Sun was already setting, when we’d started marching from Akashdeep. And darkness set in by the time we reached the memorial spot where one of the victims was buried. There were long queues of hundreds of flickering candle flames, fighting against harsh wind, lights visible even from far away.

And, as we passed the familiar roads, there were bystanders who kept clicking photos with their phone cameras, those in vehicles, in shops, people stopped with whatever they were doing and regarded the marchers, passer-by joined, and the length kept increasing. We passed the road, which few weeks ago was filled with angry protesters—we passed the Civil Secretariat, couldn’t have missed the heavy deployment of armed forces, and reached the gathering site, additional armed forces again. Although, it was a peaceful march, but, it was a scream towards them– we won’t allow license killing to go unnoticed in this land.

The grieving families spoke in unison. They refused the compensations or any other offers from the State government. Human lives matter. Why should ordinary people lives be less valued? All they demanded was to bring their killers to justice. There should be a face of the killers. There should be a chargesheet against security personnel involved. The dead cannot rest in peace if the shooters get on with their life as if nothing happened. You have wrecked unarmed, innocent people’s lives.

Since the last bandh call in Arunachal Pradesh, the State government withdrew it’s proposition of tabling the Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) bill in the State assembly. But, the families refused ex-gratia of Rs 20 lakhs and other offers on behalf of the dead (rejected by families). Because, they are yet to get the answers: Who killed them? Were the protestors armed? Why there was no use of water cannon? Who sanctioned for firing live bullets? What was their crime? Why were not they given chance to defend themselves before the law? Why was Risso Tari’s dead body dropped at the Civil Secretariat? Why Tsering Wangdi’s dead body was taken away to another state hospital without informing the family? The State continues to shield the murderers. Hiding them behind the uniform, we have been taught to respect.

All we ever wanted was to protect our rights over land, forest, our identity. Now, families of the dead and the injured are left to live with the reality. Regardless of the countless candlelight marches, many more protests, the lives of Risso Tari, Biki Ruja, and Tsering Wangdi would not be back. It can never bring them back alive. Their absence has definitely created a huge gap and things will never be the same again.

Wailings of the loved ones’ still echo in the hospital corridors, still echo in our mind. We cannot even comprehend the pain of losing ones’ son, brother, husband so suddenly. It didn’t come with a warning. Their pain is beyond tears. This cannot be unseen.

I, an indigenous of this land stand with the victim’s families. Like them, I am against anybody giving our shared pain a political colour. We seek justice. We want the truth. Who killed them? Who killed us?


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Taw Nana is a journalist and a social activist based in Itanagar. She blogs at

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Dibang dam in morass of controversy

14 Oct 2014 - 3:00pm | AT News

The brouahaha over the mega dam at Gurukamukh refuses to die down. Yet another hydel project in Arunachal Pradesh takes the centre-stage of growing controversy. This time the epicenter is none but the Dibang valley that triggers the fear of disaster in the entire north eastern region over the move to build a mega dam by NHPC to generate more power.

Talking to Assam Times, North East Dialogue Forum secretary U Nobokishore said that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre was believed to have cleared the Asia’s tallest ever mega dam to generate 3000MW of hydro electric power. According to Nobokishore, the Centre has awarded the contract to NHPC even two years after the Manmohan Singh Government refused to clear the project. He said that the controversial project will violate the rights of the indigenous people over the natural resources. The project on the pipeline has posed a serious threat to the Mehau Wildlife Sanctuary as the NHPC is in the process to acquire a huge portion of the sanctuary to build the World Bank-finance mega dam which is racial discriminatory to the north east and its people, said the NEDF leader. He said, “several organizations have been opposing the Dibang Dam fearing downstream disaster. Even these organizations, mostly, were allowed depose before the public hearing at Roing. Is not it an example of violation of UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO convention -107?”

Talking of their demands he said that a high level internal expert penal should be set up against NHPC who was awarded the contract. “The government must respect and protect the rights of the indigenous people over their land, forest, water,” he said. He said,”we demand a research on social, economic and cultural impact on the upstream and downstream areas of the proposed mega dam by engaging neutral expert from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam or Manipur.”

NEDF further charges NHPC and Centre with violating the mandate of UN Special Rapporteur of Indigenous People, UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Special Rapporteur on Business and Human Rights by allowing the mega dam construction. “The government must protect its people against human rights abuses by third parties. The corporate responsibility to respect human rights. This is apart from the access by victims to effective remedy, both judicial and non-judicial. But the government is remaining a mute spectator,” said Nobokishore. Why the Arunachal Pradesh government is unable to provide electricity to the people through mini-hydro project instead of mega dams? What forces it to reach pact with NHPC? Only a thorough probe will clear the doubts, said the rights activist.

Meanwhile, the joint campaign by North East Dialogue Forum, People’s Platform Secretariat, Village Women Coordinating Committee, People’s Action for Development, Social Action Committee against the mega dam seems to have gathered momentum with overwhelming response from the various parties and organizations. Notably, during his stint as Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh laid the cornerstone of the project on January 31 in 2008. The World Bank was to finance the project for business. But it would force the Idu-Mismi people to sacrifice their rights and interest.

The Dibang dam is planned on concrete gravity, located in the Lower Dibang Valley District of Arunachal Pradesh. Later, it will be the largest and the world’s tallest Concrete Dam, standing 288 metres (945 ft) tall which is expected to provide up to 3000MW of hydro electric power and also assist in flood control in the Dibang Valley. Dibang Multipurpose Project (3000MW) was conceived on Dibang river which originates from the snow-covered southern flank of Himalaya close to the Tibet border at an altitude of more than 5000 metres. The river emerges from the hills and enters the plain area near Nizamghat in Arunachal Pradesh, from where the river flows a distance of 50km to meet the Lohit River. The total catchment area of Dibang up to the Dam site is 11276 sq km which lies entirely in India. The project is located in the Lower Dibang Valley District of Arunachal Pradesh. The submergence area of the dam site is home to endangered birds of the State such as Black Parrot Bill, March Babbler, Manipur Bush Quail, white Winged Duck, Large Whistling, Griffin Vulture, Grey Heron, however, such endangered animals are also going to be effected greatly by this dam.

Bike lifters held in Udalguri

2 Nov 2017 - 10:02pm | Shajid Khan

The Udalguri police nabbed two bike lifters and found four two wheelers from their possession on Thursday. 

Acting on s tip off, police conducted raids in Khoirabari and Bhairabkund where the bikes were recovered. Headed by DSP (HQ),Udalguri Moidul Islam and assisted by SDPO Bhergaon Barun Purkayastha, the police team nabbed Jayanta Brahma alias Kebla alias Babloo from Khoirabari and Mintu Barman from Udalguri. A case has been registered against them at Udalguri PS under relevant sections of IPC.

Historic Banhgarh damaged by the encroachers

24 Jul 2008 - 6:38pm | SK Hasan
The historic Bahgarh which was built in 1538 A.D. by Ahom Kings to protect their capital Gargaon covers a large area of Hahchara, Bokota, Betbari, Mechagarh, Chakimukh, Simaluguri, Lakuwa etc. of Sivasagar district. Due to the lack of proper protection by the central & state authorities, some people are trying to illegally occupy the historic land of Bahgarh and thus destroy this historic monument. The Govt. should take appropriate measures to preserve this monuments.