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My Father Was Murdered On An Expedition In Arunachal, And I Demand Justice

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I am Ngurang Reena from Arunachal Pradesh, India. I am a 27 year old research scholar from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and a former Assistant Professor, Delhi University. I am writing to you as a disheartened citizen and as a grieving daughter who has just lost her father. I write on behalf of the nine daughters and sons that have been left behind tormented over our father’s death.

When decisions become arbitrary, all accountability is lost, and today I have lost confidence in all the institutions on which I can rely for justice. Hence, I have quit my job, to fight for him. I don’t know what else can I do!

I lost my father Ngurang Pinch last November. He was murdered. My family and I have every reason to believe that he was politically murdered as he was the front-runner for the upcoming 2019 election under the banner of BJP. He was immensely popular in his constituency. My father had no clue how many people, and who, were to join for the expedition and it was only on his arrival that he learned they were 21 of them (including him). The group consisted of ex-ministers, government employees, one police personnel, two state-recognised criminals, and four of his clan brothers (including the rafting guide).

Papa and the many siblings!

My family and I believe that the pre-planned expansive rafting expedition, arrangement of food, rafting boats, and continuous pressure on my father to join the expedition by his friends was a well thought out and staged plot for his murder. He was an invitee and had no prior plans to join until the very last day when his plan to go elsewhere with the Home Minister of the state was called off. Above all, the statements provided to us by the 20 members on what had transpired on that fateful night gives out tremendous loopholes leaving us with no choice but to believe that my father’s death was a murder. While I cry and beg the country for justice for him, his friends continue to live a normal life and still claim that they don’t know anything about my father’s death!

After eight long months of persistence—sending incessant emails and messages to media houses, publishing stories and reaching out to the PM’s office, the President and Kiren Rijuju, the state’s minister of home affairs—I had the urge to give up; I was exasperated. I felt like the country didn’t care about the helpless and voiceless. Many news channels and journalists shut their doors on me. They said I am a JNU student; it is a political/criminal case; “We don’t want to get involved”; it is a trivial “North East story!”

I cried in pain. But in the month of July 2018, when the Arunachal Pradesh government headed our appeals and recommended my father’s case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), I breathe a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, it’s been two months, and there has been no development. My family and I are still awaiting confirmation from the CBI on whether they will take up the case.

My late father Ngurang Pinch died too young. He was just 53. He had given forty years of his life to politics. He was popularly known more as a public leader than a politician. At the time of his death, he was the Chairman of the Agriculture Marketing Board (APAMB), and a BJP party in-charge and coordinator for Kurung Kumey district, Arunachal Pradesh. My father was born in an extremely poor family in a village called Nyapin. When he was just 16, he was child-married to my mother, who was only 13. With only two pairs of underwear, one vest, and bare feet, he finished his schooling in the Nyapin Government Higher Secondary School, where he was a popular student leader. He further migrated to a town for better prospects.

His political journey began at a grassroot level, from having nothing to achieving accolades. He began as an Anchal Samity Member (ASM) from 1987 to 1992. Then he went on to become the Zila Parishad Member between 1992 and 1997. Thereafter, between 1992 and 1996, he was the President DCC (I) Papum Pare District. Later, he became the Congress President District Papum Pare from 1996 to 2000. During the 2004 general elections, my father proved his efficacy and his leadership to the state by winning the seat from the 14th Doimukh constituency as an MLA. Subsequently, he was also made the Sports Chairman (2004). He became the National Congress Party’s General Secretary and State President (2009-2010), and had a close friendship with the late Member of Parliament P. A. Sangma. In the last two decades, though not in power, he was loved and respected by his public. Therefore he worked hard to come back for the 2019 assembly elections.

Friends, my father gave all of his life for public work. In his political tenure, he was a giver, an honest leader, a hardworking father, and, above all, a great visionary. He imparted good knowledge and lessons to his children and today we are all ready to give back to our society. He did not deserve such a tragic death, no one does. My family and I have all the right to know the reasons of his death. On the day he was buried, we cried in pain but mostly in anger, not knowing the reason for his death. We are disappointed in ‘friendship’ and in ‘humanity’ as none of those 20 expedition members have came forward offering their condolences, and mostly for concealing the truth behind my father’s death. Today, I have lost all faith in humanity, let alone God.

Through this petition, I am only pressing for an independent and a fair investigation on my father’s death.

Tranquility is what delineates Arunachal Pradesh and one is often drawn to this part of India by its abundance greenery and serenity. But beyond this delicate picture is a bigoted view—the one that conceals swelling failures of governance, and a decayed social system. The unending political upheavals compelling a state CM to commit suicide, the impending or already established ethnic and communal violence, exacerbated by emerging insurgency, murders, assassinations and extortions, this land is no longer the home I used to live in. My family and I, along with many aggrieved families of the state, have somewhere forgotten to enjoy and bask in this ‘land of the rising sun—Arunachal.’ The people of Arunachal are aghast and dismayed at the systemic violence and the distorted system with daily reports of extortion, theft, murder, and growing incidents of violence. The failure is, coherently, one of political prudence and planning. In the past three years, the state has seen 161 murders, 26 in Itanagar itself. Very few of them get reported, let alone solved, because they happen in a distant land, ‘somewhere in the North-East part of India’. New Delhi does not care!

My father’s murder case is not an exclusive one, certainly not. I am not claiming any ‘VIP treatment’  for the case, but rather I am disgusted and furious at the plight of my state and speak for all those at the receiving end of this corrupt system. Political assassinations and murders have happened here before, almost making us ‘used to’ the idea, and convincing us of the politician-militant nexus here. There was the murder of former MP Wangcha Rajkumar and many more such as DSP (APPSCE) Bomto Kamdak (shot by a criminal at loose and still absconding). One eminent journalist of an esteemed daily was shot here at broad daylight. She survived but the criminal is free, unafraid of law. An RTI activist was also falsely accused and framed for possessing illegal arms by some powerful person in the state. The government is failing in its duty towards protecting us and we are failing miserably as society, with no hindsight.

Protesters at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

My family and I are for pushing for a CBI investigation because we don’t have faith in the local administration. We know how local influences can stop us from getting justice. My state is young and evolving, where tribes and clans still take control of our everyday lives, making administration difficult. And when the fight is against the powerful, the system also fails. However, I as an optimistic citizen of India would request all of you to help us in this fight for justice. Many are as frightened as I am, and the media here is also curtailed. One can only write as much as one is ‘allowed’ to. Today, I have nowhere else to turn to but you. When the horrors and pain of the people are louder than babies crying and when the cry of your neighbours make you more uncomfortable than murder itself, something is awfully wrong.

Please help my family and my state, before it’s too late. Please help us because my father was a good man, a hardworking parent, and a benevolent citizen of this country, who dedicated his entire life to the public of Arunachal. My fight will also provide strength to those who are fighting against similar injustices. My family and I repose our faith on vigilant and thinking minds like you; on the constitution of this country; on the CBI and the judiciary, hoping that we will get justice soon.

With utmost faith,

Ngurang Reena

Sign Ngurang Reena’s petition for an investigation here.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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