Lekang: Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday reiterated his impetus on preserving indigenous culture while taking pride in being a tribal.
Attending the Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas, commemorating the 147th birth anniversary of Bhagwan Veer Birsa Munda, here in Namsai district, Khandu said that the time of tribals being insecure is over and they (tribals) have ample opportunity to rub shoulders with their counterparts of general categories under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He informed that the main reason behind celebrating Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas on the birth anniversary of Veer Birsa Munda, a tribal freedom fighter, is to recognize the contribution and significance of indigenous communities in development of the country and infuse self-confidence wherever needed.
“We should be proud of our ancestry, history and culture. In fact, we the indigenous communities have our own distinct and vibrant cultural identity that others do not have. We need to preserve it. No amount of modernity should affect us,” Khandu said.
Paying rich tributes to Munda, Khandu said a person like him is born once in a generation, who lived only for 25 years but made a difference not many could.
“At a very early age Bhagwan Birsa Munda realized that colonization by the British would become the death knell for indigenous culture and took up arms against the British Raj. He mobilised the tribal community against the British and had also forced the colonial officials to introduce laws protecting the land rights of the tribals,” he said.
Khandu expressed gratitude to Modi for recognizing the contribution of people like Veer Birsa Munda in India’s freedom struggle as well as preserving indigenous culture.
He lauded the people of Lekang for celebrating Janjati Gaurav Diwas annually since 2011.
Khandu informed that Arunachal Pradesh too has its share of freedom fighters but expressed concern that they were not properly documented and were lost in history.
“They fought for the nation’s freedom and most of them died in the battle for Independence. But their stories have remained unknown and their contributions unrecognised as India celebrates 75 years of Independence,” he said.
He revealed that the state government, under a committee headed by deputy chief minister Chowna Mein, has documented stories of 157 “unsung heroes” and submitted a list of 60 of them so far to the Centre seeking recognition of their contribution to the freedom struggle.
The list includes MatmurJamoh, who had killed British officer Williamson at Komsing village while his followers killed Dr Gregorson at Pangi, both in East Siang district on March 31, 1911. However, he died in obscurity and very few records are available about his last days at Cellular jail, where he was along with others.
“Not only the Adis of the central Arunachal belt, the Idu Mishmis, Wanchos, Singphos and the Khamptis in the East and Akas in the West had also resisted the British and fought wars with them,” he informed.
Responding to a few memorandums submitted on the occasion, Khandu assured that all demands that are feasible and fall under the government’s ambit will be fulfilled. He assured that the funds will be provided for extension of the Veer Birsa Munda Auditorium, where the celebration is held annually, within this financial year.
Mein in his address said that Veer Birsa Munda was not only a freedom fighter but a religious leader too and a protector and promoter of tribal folk culture.
The senior most leader of the region announced that the coming Statehood Day celebration will be dedicated to the unsung heroes in order to give them a befitting tribute.
He further informed that names of the unsung heroes have already been uploaded in the Portal of Unsung Heroes by the Government of India while few more names are in the process of uploading.
Mein said that research scholars are re- writing the history of Arunachal Pradesh which would be included in the school syllabus so that the future generation will be able to read the state’s history in the schools.
A statue of Bhagwaan Veer Birsa Munda was also unveiled on the occasion by the chief minister and other dignitaries. The statue is an initiative by Lekang MLA Jummum Ete Deori.
Also present on the occasion were Lok Sabha MP Tapir Gao, MLAs Gum Tayeng, Zignu Namchoom, Karikho Kri, Mutchu Mithi, Dasanglu Pul and Samlung Mossang.
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