Habitations of Singpho in Arunachal Pradesh

Singpho are one of the tribes that spread across countries where they are called Kachin in Myanmar and Jingpo in China. Even in India they reside in five districts: Changlang, Namsai/Lohit Districts of Arunachal Pradesh and Sibsagar, Golaghat and Tinsukia District of Assam.

A research by Baruwa (2013) compiled as many as 31 villages in Assam and 42 villages in Arunachal Pradesh. Another researcher from Dibrugarh University, Machey (2013), when planning the field work listed 30 “highly concentrated” villages of Singpho. May be the other villages are less in numbers or shared with other community members.

According to Baruwa (2013), the 42 villages in Arunachal Pradesh includes Namphai, Miao Singpho, Pisi, Gagam, Ningrang, Lewang, Hamuk, Phup, Bordumsa, Wakhetna, Goju, Dirakna, Gidingna, Gallinja, Balijan, Kheremkha, Wagun-1,2,3&4, Dapkhu, Saimo, Kherem Bisa, Deobil, Ning-ru, Wagun, Namsai Singpho, N-den, N-phum, Munglang, Namgoi, Unbang, Project, Insha, Tingwa, Innao, Dragna, Payong, Sikao, Duleng, Wakro, Tezo Singpho, Imbu, Dimaba and Kharsang Singpho

NO VILLAGE CIRCLE DISTRICT
1. Balijan
2. Bordumsa Bordumsa Changlang
3. Dapkhu Bordumsa Changlang
4. Deobil Namsai Namsai
5. Dimaba
6. Dirakna Bordumsa Changlang
7. Dragna
8. Duleng
9. Gagam
10. Gallinja Changlang
11. Gidingna
12. Goju Bordumsa Changlang
13. Hamuk
14. Imbu
15. Innao Diyun Changlang
16. Insha Namsai Namsai
17. Kharsang Singpho Kharsang Changlang
18. Kherem Bisa Bordumsa Changlang
19. Kheremkha
20. Lewang Miao Changlang
21. Miao Singpho Miao Changlang
22. Munglang Lathao Lohit
23. Namgoi Nampong Changlang
24. Namphai Miao Changlang
25. Namsai Singpho Namsai Namsai
26. N-den
27. Ningrang Miao Changlang
28. Ning-ru Bordumsa Changlang
29. N-phum
30. Payong
31. Phup Miao Changlang
32. Pisi Miao Changlang
33. Project
34. Saimo Bordumsa Changlang
35. Sikao Miao Changlang
36. Tezo Singpho Tezu Lohit
37. Tingwa Chowkham Lohit
38. Unbang
39. Wagun Bordumsa Changlang
40. Wagun-1, 2, 3, 4 Bordumsa Changlang
41. Wakhetna Bordumsa Changlang
42. Wakro Wakro Lohit

In the table above, I have added the columns “Circle” and “District” with the help of internet. I could not verify several of them (Indicated by hyphen – ). There is one Singpho village I know – Dumba Singpho – which did not find its place above. There could be some more villages not listed above. Also possible the spellings are given differently that made identification difficult.

The Center for Policy Studies mentioned that according to Census 2011 there were 5,616 Singpho in Arunachal Pradesh. Out of that, 5,385 belong to Buddhist religion. That means this smaller number of people are widely distributed. A school teacher informed about 4 to 5 families resides in each village.

Good description on Singpho:

  • Machey, Ashwini. Socio Economic Characteristics Of The Singphos: A Study Of Assam And Arunachal Pradesh. Published at IJMRR, Nov 2013.
  • Baruwa, Anita. 2013. Singing the Singpho Song. Provides details of the Singpho living in Assam.

The Settlements of the Chakma people in Arunachal

young-chakma-kids-with-their-traditional-ornaments

Photo: Chakma young kids (Courtesy: NEI People).

Well known to most people the Chakma are one of the largest displaced communities in the north east India. Coming in from Bangladesh in the 1960s, they are now in Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Perhaps, Arunachal Pradesh is where this community faced most oppositions and atrocities. In other states, they have received government support.

The Chakma of Arunachal are found in three settlements: Papumpare, Lohit and Changlang Districts. Highest number is in Changlang District. For details,

District Circle Village
Papumpare Balijan Chakma I to X
Lohit Chowkham Chakma I to III
Changlang Miao M’pen (3, 4, 6, 7, 8 Miles), Punyabhumi, Devapuri, Brajapur, Nandakanan, Kamlapuri, Deban I to III, Dharmapur
  Diyun Motripur I,Gautampur II, Shantipur III, Joytipur IV, Oboypur V, Dhompani VI, Dhompator, Udaipur, Joshnapur
  Bordomsa Bijoypur I to III
  Kharsang Milanpur, Gorokhpur, Rathnapur

 

To give a graphic description of the settlements in Changlang district: The villages stretch along the banks of the Noa Dihing river from Kharsang to Innao to Deban. Approximately, about 40 km from Kharsang/Innao to Deban. The area is larger between Kharsang to Innao (about 15 to 20 km) and then reduces to about one KM in Deban.

Due to the proximately to the river, the villages face huge problem during flood seasons. Paddy fields of several families are eroded each year. Moreover, there are no bridges over the River between the villages. Only local made wooden boats are operated that is risky for lives during flood seasons.

Moreover, the road connectivity in all the settlements, except for Diyun area, is in bad condition. The villages under Bijoypur and Dharmapur are surrounded in all sides by the river. Getting in and out of these villages are only by boats in rainy season. The villages in Deban are cut off by landslides most of the year. M’pen villages too are dependent on the mercy of the Pagla nadi (at 6th Mile).

This is the plight of a large chunk of the population of Chakma in Arunachal as given below (Census 2001).

District Total Population ST Population Chakma & Hajong Pop
Changlang 125,422 45,351 59,060
Lohit 125,086 40,552 4,406
Papumpare 122,033 69,007 1,534
Total 65,000

 

Miju Mishmi

images-4

Photo courtesy: The Hindu

The Miju Mishmi is also called Kaman or Kammaan. They number 35,000 (Britannica) and are one of the three Mishmi tribes.  The tribe primarily lives in Lohit and Anjaw Districts. The Ethnologue said they live in 25 villages.

More specifically the people live in several villages along the Deban to Zero road. An unpublished research report of Samuel Nelson[i] says, “The Miju Mishmis are distributed in the relatively higher altitudes of the eastern part of Lohit district. Their territory includes the upper Lohit and Dau Valleys; the area to the east of the Hayuliang, Billong, and Tilai valleys; and the southern part of Lohit district. Some of them are settled in and around Tezu city.” Wikipedia located the area of Miju between the Lohit and Kambang Rivers right upto the Rima Frontiers.

Their area has several attractive locations. The first is the sacred Hindu site, Parasuramkunda, near Wakro town has attracted thousands of devotees each year. The highway from Chowkham is planned to be extended that worship place. The second is Glow Lake located at the origin of the Kamlang River. Then there is Kamlang Wildlife Sanctuary, now almost reduced to cultivation. And then the Namdapha National Park at the Southern part of their territory.

A good description about the area and notes from bird lovers.

Some Highlights

One of the distinctions about the tribe is rearing of Mithuns. Other than Nyishi and Adis in the western and middle of the State, perhaps Mishmis are the only tribe that keeps this State animal. These huge animals are reared mostly in jungle, few in villages. They are expensive and serve primarily for two purposes: bride price and for sacrifice. Over three mithuns are paid for a bride. Depending on the importance of the occasion, mithuns are sacrificed.  A short article on Mithuns.

Another limelight is being the largest cardamom producing area in the State. The Economic Times has this statistic “Anjaw produced 150 metric tonnes of the spice with a financial turnover of Rs nearly 12 crore during the financial year 2010-11.”  Now this spice plantation extended to almost every Mishmi inhabited village.

Their area is also known for producing large quantities of oranges. Traveling along the Deban to Zero you will lots of huge gardens of oranges. Farmers obtain much of their revenues from this cultivation. A news item reported about the income from oranges and the changes in lifestyle it brought. One person earned as much Rs 45 lakhs per year! The fruit is transported to Karimganj, Bangladesh.

A Major Issue

The major problem seems to be the addiction to opium. One person, Razzeko Dele, wrote at AP Times about its impact in the Mishmi Hills. Few extracts from this article: Opium has become a treat… has been using for 150 years… no wonder users and producers increased… has accepted as part of their culture. Really a big predicament that affected the whole of society in their health and income.

[i] Samuel, Nelson. 2001. The Mishmi of Arunachal Pradesh: a brief survey (Unpublished research report).