The Wancho’s of Tirap district is caught in a ‘Catch-22’ situation and the government seems to be of little help in bailing them out of the situation. They have to live in constant fear of intimidation by the UG elements on the one hand and on the other of being violated by the army of having being links with the UG elements active in Tirap and Changlang districts.
This became apparent when after failure of police and district administration to act upon the FIR (First Information Report), the WSU (Wancho Students’ Union) wrote to the Chief Minister to secure safe release of 39 kidnapped students, some as young as students of primary standards, from the clutches of NSCN (K). However, when no effort seemed forthright from the government towards safe release of the abducted boys, the WSU stated in a press on 4th February that they [Wancho’s] are in a situation they don’t want to be in (where they are always under scanner of being supporting the UG elements) and that they have no other option left but to go for talks with the UG elements for the safe release of abducted boys and a protest rally on 10th of February.
One wonders, how abduction of such large number of youths could have been possible from right under the nose of the army? Where were the army, the police and the district administration when the demand notice for making available 227 youths for recruitment was in circulation? It may be mentioned here that Tirap and Changlang districts are the two districts that is declared ‘disturbed’ in this otherwise peaceful state and where the ‘draconian’ Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), 1958 is in force. The kidnapping of such large number of youths only makes you question the effectiveness of this ‘draconian act’.
The move for demand of safe release of abducted youths has ever since been joined by various students’ bodies and organizations and by the Apex Students’ body of the state, AAPSU (All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union) who had boycotted the ‘Statehood Day’ yesterday by giving a ‘Bandh’ call in the wake of failure of their 10-day ultimatum served to the government for securing safe release of abducted youths.(The ‘Bandh’ call at Ziro-Hapoli Township was total with business establishment downing their shutters and vehicles off the road. With this Ziro-Hapoli Township witnessed second ‘Bandh’ of the year).
On government’s part, the Khandu government has given a distress call to Prime Minister and union Home Minister for a concerted effort to drive out ultras out of the state and for securing safe release of the abducted youths, since the issue had assumed international dimension with the hostages being taken deep inside the forest of Myanmar.
Now, giving a twist to the story and contrary to what WSU (Wancho Students’ Union) had claimed, NSCN (K) has denied the kidnapping theory. They claimed that all the youths came voluntarily to them in response to their recruitment drive call for 227 members. And that reported as being managed to escape was actually sent back as because either they didn’t fulfill the recruitment criteria or they were minors and that they don’t recruit ‘minors’.
Whatever the case may be, the situation hasn’t improved for the Wancho’s and with government doing little to bail them out of the situation they are still under ‘Catch-22′ situation-join the outfit either voluntarily or under threat, bear the brunt of the army; if not, bear the brunt of UG outfit.
Footnote: – I’ve only tried to attire the Apatani protagonist as Wancho. In no way, the attire/costume of the protagonist may be construed as the true representation of attire of the Wancho’s.