THE MURDER IN 1911

THE MURDER IN 1911

Captain Neol Williamson was the Assistant Political Officer at Sadiya in the beginning of the 20th century and wedded to the ideas of British imperialism thoroughly. Within a very short time of his appointment, he toured into the interiors of the north-eastern hills and very often crossed the line of his jurisdiction. In the year 1908, Williamson toured the Pasi, Gallong and Minyong village around the present day Pasighat. In the following year he again made the tour in Lohit valley, this time going beyond the ’Outer line’. He also toured the Abor hills going along the course of Dihang river and went upto Kebang village. During this tour, he was accompanied by Colonel D.M. Lumsden and W.L.B. Jackman, a member of the American Mission at Sadiya. Williamson and his party could not go beyond the Kebang Village due to an inter-tribal war between the Pangis and the Minyongs.

 The main objective of these tours was to gather detailed knowledge of the tribal land, explore the possibilities of the trade route through these hills to Tibet and to ascertain the extent of the Chinese influence in this area. The Adis, however, were always suspicious of these tours since during tours, they were not only required to work as porters but were also supposed to provide ration supply to the touring party without any substantial payment. Besides, the  tribals were also haunted by a common sense of insecurity and humiliation. To a primitive people, with their distinctive native culture, institutions and values, the activities of the British amounted to a direct interference in their freedom and the imposition of an alien culture on them. Like any other tribal society which valued its freedom more than anything else, this was causing irritation among the Adis. The result was explosive, leading to the murder of Williamson and his party in 1911.

 Noel Williamson was determined to penetrate into the hills with a view to fulfill his objective and once again, therefore, 1911, he penetrated again into the Mishmi hills upto Walong. There he noticed the Chinese flag at Menikari and was also reported the Chinese occupation of Rima. Noticing the Chinese activities In the Mishmi Hills he became concerned about the lot of the Abor Hills; immediately after his return from the Mishmi hills. He, therefore, chalked out a programme of tour into Abor hills. From the Chinese action he had seen in the Mishmi Hills, he at once realize the necessity of finding out the extent of the Chinese influence in these hills. Thus in 1911, Williamson ventured on another expedition of the Adi Hills that was to make an important landmark in the history of the North East.

Before proceeding to see the expedition of Williamson in 1911, let us have a look at the rules and regulations of the Government concerning such expeditions. the orders relating to the tours beyond the area of political control on the north-east border of India were  summed up briefly in the rule that the sanction of the Local Government must first be obtained in all cases. When such tours were likely involve complications that could demand the sending of a punitive expedition, the tour could not be permitted without the prior permission of the Government of India. All the official records reveal that Williamson had failed to get the necessary sanction of the Government before he started his tour of the Abor Hills in 1911.

During this expedition, Willamson was accompanied by 34 Gurkhali coolies, 10 Miris, 2 orderlies and three servants. Besides, Dr. J.D. Gregorson, a successful doctor in medical charge of the European and native staff of an important tea garden at Tinsukia and Lakhimpur, who took a deep interest in the tribes of the Hills, also accompanied Williamson. On 18thMarch, 1911, the party reached Rottung and halted there for the night. During that night, some provisions and a case of liquor was stolen from the camp by some tribal people. Williamson asked the  village people that the guilty were to be presented before him when he returned back from his journey. The naturally made the village people very angry, since Williamson had the guts to threaten the Adis in their own land. It is suggested that the plan to murder the entire party was discussed by the villagers the same night. This was even reported to Williamson, but he did not pay any attention to it. He was confident that the Adis would not attack him since as per the nature of the Adis, they are stronger in deliberation than in action. On the next day the party marched upto Pangi village and stayed there waiting for the arrival of the porters. On the 28th March, a Mising servant, Manpur, was sent back to Rottung with some sick coolies and some letters. Manpur, it was reported, told to the people of Rottung that he had come to take more sepoys into the hills so that the Adis could be punished. This false statement on the part of Manpur agitated the tribals who killed the four men and marched upto Pangi to take action against Williamson and his party.

On the fateful day of 30th March, Willamson marched further from pangi, leaving Dr. Gregorson and three coolies in the camp. The tribals, gathering more men at Kebang and Babuk villages, came to the Pangi camp and killed Dr. Gregorson and the three coolies. They they followed Williamson who had reached Komsing village, which is 80 miles from the present day Pasighat. On the morning of 31th March, 1911, the furious tribals arrived there and in the broad daylight, Williamson and his party was murderd at 10:00 a.m. Only a few managed to escape to relay the news of this murder at Sodiya.

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KEBANG and GAMBO :Adi Village Council System

KEBANG:

The Adi tribes of Arunachal Pradesh largely found in the erstwhile Siang district had developed a well organized republican system of administration. The KEBANG or the village council formed the basis of their political organization. The Adi folk songs and folklores often bear the reference to Kalu Kebo(the council of people), Kabo-Yabo (the public) and qumin-soyin(the village spirits) etc., which proves that the village council or kebang exitsted in the Adi society from the very early times.

Every Adi village is run by a council called kebang and all adult villagers are its members. All of them can participate in its deliberations which are guided by the elders of the council and are known as Kebang-Abus. The leadership of the Kebang is not hereditary but is acquired by an elder by virtue of his merits in different fields. The kebang was and is a democratic body and all the villagers are to take part in its meetings. Though there is no restriction on women taking part in Kebang, generally they did not participate in its deliberations due to one reason or another. The kebang, therefore, was generally an all male affair.

The meetins of the village council (Dolung kebang) are generally held at dere or moshup, the Adi name for public administration. During the British period, due to various reasons such as the possible fear of British intervention in their territory and curtailment of their right in the plains, two other categories of Kebangs came into being namely the Bango-Kebang or a council of many villages and the Bogum-Bokang kebang or a council of the whole Adi tribes. Due to the presence of the Britishers and their influence three more officials began to be associated with the kebang. They were the Gam, the political Jamadar and kotoki. The Gam or the Gaonburah were appointed by the Government under regulation 1 of 1945 by virtue of their influence, experience and acceptability to the villagers. Normally each clan had a Gam who could be easily spotted by the red coat that was their official dress.

   In the Keabang the proceedings are generally initiated and controlled by the experienced members called the Abus. The proceedings of the Kebang sometimes continue for days together till all participants are exhausted and arrive at an agreeable decision, failing which the kebang is adjourned for the next session. Every speaker in the Kebang begins his speech with an introduction called Abe, which narrates the ancient history and glory of the Adi tribe, and exhorts the village elders for important judgment. Cases of both civil and criminal nature are put up before the Kebang by the contending parties backed by their fellow clansmen and supporters. The Abus guide the speakers and interpret the laws, sometimes giving examples as to how a case of similar nature was decided earlier. It is noteworthy that the aim of Kebang is to make all parties agree to a compromise and not to enforce any judgment. Once a decision is taken in a Kebang its implementation is automatic. In the criminal cases, the common punishment is usually the imposition of fines and compensation to the aggrieved party.

The village councils are empowered to decide the cases falling within the jurisdiction of their respective villages. The cases which involve two or more villages, the Bongo Kebang is called and those cases or an event which can affects the entire community, the Bogum Bokang Kebang is convened. The Kebang operates on the principle of unquestionable loyaelity to the village community and customary laws. Many a times the supernatural guidance is sought through oaths and ordeals, which comprise of physical and psychological tests. The findings of the supernatural courts were considered to be final and binding though this practice is not generally encouraged now a days.

THE GAMBO

The Adis who live in Mechukha area had a different system of administration which centered around GAMBO. A GAMBO means a head or a leader or an influential person of a particular clan or village. Earlier these GAMBOS were selected by the village people to act as their leaders. This selection of the GAMBO was, generally speaking, hereditary and normally the eldest son succeeded his father. In some cases, the GAMBOS attempted to become the DERA or the chief of their village.

The Gambos decided the issue and disputes related to property, murder, thief etc.. in the village but were not arbitrary. They were guided by the customary laws and traditions. In the issues relating to relations with the outsiders, tribals or otherwise, the support of the chiefs of other village also sought. The Gambos did not have either the authority or the power to collect taxes from the villagers. The Gambos gradually lost their influence after 1954 when the Assam Frontier regulation of 1945 was enforced in NEFA.

Moshup and Rasheng- The Social Institutions of Adi tribe

The social institution that forms an important part of the social life of most of the tribes in the existence of the Dormitories or communal barracks or bachelor’s quarters.

Amongst the Adis these Dormitories are called MOSHUP (for boys) and RASHENG (for girls). The basic idea behind these institutions to create a habit of discipline amongst the children and also to create a feeling of cooperation. The Moshup is normally situated in the centre of the village and is constructed at a place from which different approaches to the village can be seen. These dormitories are used as the sleeping houses by all the youngmen of the village from the age of ten till marriage. The Moshup, sometimes has its advisory board comprising of the old and experience people. They advice the young members on the matters of community life, hunting, etc. etc.. The old and infirm members of the village also came to Moshup in the day time to get-together and gossip. Guests and visitors are also entertained here and kebangs are also held here.

The RASHENG or the girls dormitories was meant for the gaiety, amusement and the art and regulation of love-making. This rasheng is purely secular in nature and has no religious significance. After reaching puberty, girls sleep in their respective clan Rashengs. During the day time it is generally vacant but at night spinning and weaving is carried out here. A senior experience girl normally supervises the Rasheng. It is a training institution for the girls in discipline, comradeship, responsibility and leadership. The romantic life of a girl starts here. Young boys from different clans come and join the girls at night and the affairs of the boys and girls of marriageable clans generally lead to marriage. Thus the Moshup and rasheng of the Adis are the central institution where the boys and girls received practical training in traditional mode of life.  

The Origin and Migration of Adi Tribe Part I- Compensated by the oral tradition of the people in the form of Legends, Myths, Folklores and Sayings etc.

The Origin

The Adis do not have any historical records in the want of a language; but this is compensated by the oral traditions of the people in the form of legends, myths, folklores, proverbs and sayings etc. These oral traditions are reflected in Abangs, Ponungs, Abes etc. The oral religious literature of the Adis is mainly represented by rhapsodies known a Abangs, relating to the mythe of creation, origin of social institutions and history of the people. The Ponungs are nothing but legthy ballads, drawing their themes from Abangs, highlighting the origin of different things including the Adis race itself. The Abes may be considered as the political literature of the people and the term is used to mean the introductory speeches given by the Kebang. An elderly person gifted with powers of good oratory is called the Kebang Abu, who traces the origin and migration of the people of the central zone of Arunachal from Uli, Usha and kumting in Tibet in a poetic language. There are dozens of myths currents among the Adis which talk about their origin and migration. The task of tracing the origin and migration of the Adis was taken over by various foreign scholars in the 19th and the early part of the 20th century.

William Robinson was the first European scholar to draw a connected account of the tribes and, as quoted, the difficulty in lifting up “ the dark veil which conceals the origin of the tribes”. John Butler thinks the Adis,“to be the descendents of the tortar race” by observing their physical features. Father Kreek believe that the Padams stood midway between mongoloid and Caucasian race and referred to a popular tradition about the origin of the padam people. He recollected a story that when the earth was full of mud, God came down from heaven and made two brothers and sisters with a handful of mud. The padams descended from the elder and the Miris from the younger brother. E.T. Dalton also tried to trace the origin of the Padams from an older son of a woman in the beginning of the earth. G.W. Beresford believes that all the Adis acknowledge a common origin from the Bor Abors. G.D.S. Dundar has also tried to trace the traditional origin of the tribes. R.C.R. Gumming refers that all the Adis claim their origin form some race tribes settled a Killing in Bomo-janbo country. According to a popular version,” in the beginning there was only darkness, and out of the union of the sky(Melo) and the earth(Sedi) things were born. Pedong nane who descended from Sedi-Melo were married to Yidum Bole and out of their union was born Donyi, the first man”. Dr. Verrier Elwin has collected some myths referring to Donyi or Tani as the first man on the earth.

Different branches of the Adi families however, have their own myths and traditions regarding their origin and migration. The Padam Minyong myths refer that keyum was the first in the line of creation. After a few generations came sedi who is believed to be the creator of the world. Pedong nane was the sixth generation of Sedi who gave birth to different gods, goddesses, spirits and animals and Donyi or tani was the youngest issues of Pedong Nane. This group of the adis regard Donyi or Tani as the common ancestor of the Adis. It is also believed that Pedong’s son was Dobir who had a son named Dirbo, and he had a number of sons. One of the sons of Dirbo was Bome from whom the Padams descended and the other was Banyo from whom the Minyongs descended. This myth of origin is also prevalent amongs Pasis, Panggis, karkos, Shimongs, Milangs and the Eastyern Adi groups.

 The myths of the Galo group of   Adis trace their origin from Sichi. They believed that after a few generations from Sichi, Tani, the first man was born and it was from him that all the sub-tribes of the Galo groups like the Pailibos, Bokars, Ramos etc.., came into being. The Pailibos claims to be the descendents of Sichi, the mother earth and recounts the story of the creation of different clans of the Pailibos from the descendents of Sichi or Sichang. The Bokars claims their descent from the first man Abo Tani and belives that one of the off-spring of Abo Tani was Dungume from whom runs the direct line of descent of the present day Bokars. The ramos attribute their origin to the union of Medoang (the sky) and Seaching(the earth) and consider Donyi (the sun) and Polo(the moon) as their first issues. As per their oral tradition, Donyi and Polo have gone to stay with medong(the sky) but the ramos have stayed back with their mother Seaching(the earth). It is also held that Jomso was the common forefather of the Ramos, Bokars and Pailibos. In the Galo mythology, Jimi is the creator who created Mrdo(the sky) and sichi(the earth) and from their union started the human race. The first child was Sibuk and one of his descendant was Tusi whose son was Rimi or Tani, the father of the man. Tani is the common father of man, as acknowledged by the Galos.

 

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