Place & People

Mopaya Village near Narottamnagar

Tirap Frontier Division, now known as Tirap district, is the southernmost district of North-East Frontal Agency (NEFA). The Patkai mountain range, in the northeast frontier of India, bordering Myanmar, is spread over the Tirap and Changlang districts of Arunachal Pradesh.

The Tirap district comprises 2362 sq. km. area, and shares its border with Mynamar in the south, Nagaland in the west, Assam in the north & Changlang district in the east. Altitudes range from 150 to 1500 metres approximately.

There are quite a good number of spring-heads in the Tirap district which are of great help to the people as being sources of salt water. The local people collect the spring water and manufacture salt out of that. Such salt springs are very common in the Nocte area and the local people use the salt not only for their own consumption but get many things of daily necessity in exchange for this commodity. Before the advent of British administration, salt was an important item of trade with them and for this, people from the plains used to visit their villages with various trade goods to be offered in exchange of salt. Thus so far as trade was concerned they were in an advantageous position because of the availability of salt in their locality which gave them an unique position to dictate terms to others.

Tribal Villagers

From the earliest days people from the east came to Assam crossing the Patkoi range and then passing through the present district of Tirap. This is how the area was known to the people living both to the east and west of the Patkoi range. The Ahoms, who ruled over the Brahmaputra valley for more than six hundred years from the beginning of the 13th century to the beginning of the 19th century, as well as the Khamptis, Singphos, Phakials and the Burmese invading army entered Assam following routes running through this district.

There are many tribes inhabiting the district which were known by the names of the passes through which they came to the plains such as Borduries, Namsangias, Paniduarias, Mithonias, Banpheras, Jobokas etc.

An attempt in 1878 to survey the eastern part of the district led to disastrous results. On 2 February, Lieutenant Holcombe, Assistant Commissioner of Jaipur along with a survey party was attacked at Ninu, a village four days march from the plains. Lieutenant Holcombe and eighty men were butchered and fifty others were wounded. Coming to know about the incident a military expedition was immediately sent to the hills, which destroyed the offending village and recovered the heads of the murdered men along with the arms and plunder taken by them.

During the year 1942-43 a Control Area comprising the Namsang Borduaria area was constituted.

Khonsa Village

With the recruitment of Indian Frontier Administrative Officers in 1953 the Administration started taking more interest in matters relating to the Divisions. Co. P N Luthra, IFAS went to Tirap as the Political Officer and was in charge of the Division from 25 January 1954 to 23 March 1955. For the sake of better administration it was decided as early as 1951 that the Headquarters of the Divisions should be shifted from the plains to the respective Divisions and in accordance with that decision the Headquarters of the Tirap Frontier Division was shifted from Margherita to Khela with effect from 2 August 1955 when Sri Wagray was holding charge of the Division. After Sri Wagray, Col. K A A Raja went to Khela as Political Officer and was in charge of the Division upto 26 September 1969. During this period the Division made rapid progress toward all-round development with special attention given for removing the communication difficulties.

The Headquarters was again shifted with effect from 17 August 1959 from Khela to Khonsa, a site considered better in almost all respects.

The Noctes, about 35000 in number, live in 63 villages, occupying half of the Tirap district. The other half of the district beyond the river Tissa is the home of the Wangchos. Noctes are a combination of several groups of people that came from different directions and settled together in the present habitat.

Nok means 'group of people', and te means 'that reside'. Nokte is now known as Nocte, a major tribe of Arunachal Pradesh.

               

A group of Noctes migrated from the Hukong Valley in Burma. They came trekking the hills, as said, through Pangsau pass, down to the plain area, along the river Dihing, and then came up the hill and settled in the present Namsang-Borduria habitat.

Bamboo, Hollong, Mekai, Nahar, orchids, herbs and flowers and various kinds of birds, butterflies, animals such as bears, dears, hogs, elephants, monkeys etc. are in plenty here.