Hindi isn’t just a lingua franca in a state inhabited by more than 140 disparate tribes and sub-tribes. Speaking it well is the average Arunachalee’s way of telling Beijing that they are emotionally integrated with India.
The urge to let China — and the rest of the world too — know where Arunachal Pradesh belongs despite online map-tampering by the Chinese makes the frontier state’s government lure Hindi teachers from Hindi-speaking states with perhaps the best pay package in the northeast. J.K. Mishra from Patharwa in UP’s Kushinagar district was one such teacher.
Mishra, 45, taught Hindi at the JT Government Secondary School at Seijosa, in Arunachal Pradesh’s East Kameng district.
One of 200 teachers in the town, Mishra carried a disability — an accident had claimed his right leg. That, as local fellow-teacher Nabum Tage said, did not prevent him from going out of his way to teach Hindi since he landed the job in 1991.
Hindi, thus, made Mishra’s life. Hindi took it too on Monday when NDFB militants dragged him out of a bus and shot him point blank along with seven other non-locals. Of the others killed, AK Gupta was from UP, Narayan Jana and S.B. Roy from West Bengal and B.S. Razak from Bihar.
“Only cold-blooded killers could snuff the life of a disabled person,” Tage said, trying to console Mishra’s widow and three daughters, the eldest 14 years old. Fellow teachers AK Mishra and GK Singh, also from UP, were there too.
“We have nothing to fear in Arunachal Pradesh, but we have to pass through Assam to go to our native places,” said Singh. Assam government’s assurance of safety seems so hollow, he added.
According to Tage, Mishra and fellow-teacher Gupta had gone to Tezpur to buy stuff for Chhath Puja later this week. The two will be cremated by the Pakke river (flowing past Seijosa) near the spot where people from Bihar celebrate Chhath.