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Arunachal: The Meyors of first Indian Village ‘Kaho’- The Sentinels of the Country

The total population of the village is only 78. The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry. 

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  • Kaho is the first village of India from where China is only at a stone’s throw away. It is 240 KM from Tezu in Lohit district.

By  Denhang Bosai from Kaho-    Situated 40 KM from Walong and nestled in a picturesque valley amidst pine-clad lofty mountains and enchanting ambience, is the first village of India; Kaho from where China is only at a stone’s throw away. It is 240 KM from Tezu in Lohit district. The sleepy and non-descript Kaho village is situated on the left bank of the mighty Lohit river which flows in its crystal clear greenish colour in Kibithu circle of Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh. The literary meaning of Kaho is ‘dwelling place of many priests.’

The total population of the village is only 78. The main occupation of the villagers is agriculture, horticulture and animal husbandry.  They practise both jhum cultivation and WRC. The villagers are Buddhists. Chor, a variety of large cow is their main domesticated animal that fetches milk and is also used to plough their fields. The village boasts of a Primary School and a Health Sub-Centre. There is a heavy presence of security forces in the village periphery for obvious reasons and civilians are strictly prohibited from venturing beyond Kaho village.

A Meyor woman

The tribe residing in Kaho village is called Meyor whose costumes and culture are akin to the Monpas, Membas and Tibetans.  The Meyors are spread across Kibithu and Walong administrative circles. Villages like Kaho, Musai, Danbari, Chhota Khundun, Khawroti, Bara Khundun, Yaikung, Kunchhu etc fall under Kibithu circle. Interestingly, Meyors and Miju Mishmis live together in Yaikung and Kunchhu villages. The important Meyor villages in Walong circle are Wulong, Tinai, Dong, Saphung, Teryap, Namti etc. The villages are small and their population is sparse. The Meyors celebrate a number of festivals and rituals every year. However, Lanchhut is their main festival and it is celebrated in the month of January. They also celebrate the New Year festival Losar in December and February.  Almost all the Meyors can speak Miju Mishmi dialect because of their proximity to their neighbouring tribe.

The Meyors are mild and hospitable by nature and are patriotic to the core. History is evident that they assisted the Indian army during the Chinese aggression in 1962. In the past, the villagers of Kaho used to build their dwelling houses with pinewood. Even the roofing was of wood.  But now, tin roofing has replaced the traditional practice.

There are Meyors in China also bordering Kaho village. Some of the Meyor villages in China are Rungtut, Rungmat, Rungjit, Sangu, Samar Latam, Rimathong etc. The Meyors of India and China residing in the borders used to practise border trades in the past that greatly benefited the villagers in both the countries economically. However, this practice was stopped completely after the 1962 war.

Arunachal: The Meyors of first Indian Village 'Kaho'- The Sentinels of the Country

The life of the Meyors living in the borders is tough and unforgiving. With stiff mountains and harsh weather conditions, there are little or no scopes for cultivation. The villagers are now starting to engage themselves in horticulture activities to augment their source of income. The passion fruit KIWI grows very well there. The Kaho villagers have also started exploring the opportunities and possibilities of growth of the tourism sector and have built a few home-stays to accommodate tourists.

Thanks to the significance of Kaho as the first village of India and the breathtaking scenic beauty of the place, many tourists visit Kibithu and Walong circles every year. This will, without an iota of doubt, benefit the growth of the economy of the people in no small measure. There are Inspection Bungalows and home-stays at Walong and Kibithu that the tourists can avail. Hot spring at Dong is worth-visiting so also the first sunrise at Dong is very popular among the tourists.

Kaho village being strategically located and Meyor tribe being one of the smallest in terms of population, government intervention is the sine qua non to facilitate Kaho village with more gainful government schemes and also to help and assist the Meyors to grow in all spheres of life. Tourism holds great promises for the people of Kaho and adjoining villages of Kibithu and Walong circles.

Arunachal: The Meyors of first Indian Village 'Kaho'- The Sentinels of the Country

Therefore, the government may initiate suitable steps to boost tourism there in order to engage the local people gainfully and also improve their fragile economy. While interacting with the DIPR team during the AKAM programme at Kaho village on 7th November 2021, the Spokesperson of Meyor Welfare Society TT Meyor and the GB of Khrowti and Bara Khundun Unchan Meyor expressed about their hardships because of the remoteness of the village and passionately pleaded the DIPR team to impress upon the state government to address the plethora of problems being faced by the people on priority.

The two Meyor leaders lamented that there are only a few government Teachers and clerks from Meyor tribe with no single officer mainly because of remoteness and lack of opportunities. With indescribable Mother Nature in her splendour best, Kaho beckons the tourists to feast on Nature’s bountiful gifts and momentarily forget the trials and tribulations of life.

 ( The writer is Deputy Director of DIPR, Arunachal Pradesh )

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