He played the ethnic card to influence the commander of the Chinese occupation army to save Indian lives in 1962. He was 28 then.
On Tuesday, 76-year-old illiterate farmer Alorno Pul of Walang sector in southern Arunachal Pradesh was given a ‘Thank You’ note from the government for what he did 48 years ago.
Alorno was one of the several Mishmi tribesmen the Indian army had employed to carry rations, guns and ammunition to forward posts.
He did more. He used some Chinese soldiers of the same tribe — Tibet has a sizeable population of Mishmi tribe — to minimise casualty and destruction.
Alorno recalled: “A few days into the war, I found out that their commander, Sohum Towsik, was also a Mishmi. Our village chief and I met him and rekindled long-lost ethnic ties.”
A few days later, the Chinese called Alorno and others to Walong and asked them to take care of a dozen abandoned villages and Indian army camps.
“We didn’t realise when they went back,” said Alorno. “We began carrying rations again, this time to save villagers from starvation.”
He even spent most of the R50 reward that the local authorities gave him as reward on feeding the villagers.
Alorno’s eyes turned moist on Tuesday when Arunachal PWD minister Nabam Tuki handed him the certificate at state capital Itanagar, 950 km northwest of his village Changung in Anjaw district.
But the tears were more for the lives he couldn’t save, and a card Indian army officers gave him after the war,
ensuring lifelong access to subsidised defence canteens.
“He lost the card a few years ago. But he is too modest to seek a replacement,” said S Mining, an administrator of the circle under which falls Alorno’s village.