This is the story of Ngurang Reena, who is a former lecturer at the University of Delhi and currently a research scholar at JNU, New Delhi. She shared the story of her father’s alleged murder on November 18, 2017 and her family’s fight for justice.
‘The dead cannot cry out for justice. The living must do so for them.’
Have you ever lost your dear ones to a tragic death? If yes, you know how it hurts. But when you have lost your dear ones to murder, how do you console your aching heart?
I lost my father to a brutal murder on November 18, 2017. A part of me died with him.
My family has stopped ‘living’, and every day from then on has been nothing but a quest for answers, peace and justice.
I am Ngurang Reena, a former lecturer at the University of Delhi and currently a research scholar at JNU, New Delhi. I write my story today, as an exasperated citizen of India and as a disheartened daughter who has struggled to have access to justice for my father’s murder. I write on behalf of my family that have been left behind, tormented over our father’s death.
When decisions become arbitrary, all accountability is lost, and today, we, the aggrieved family after having persisted for two years are exasperated, yet we continue to seek answers and justice. Though we still have faith in the institutions that were put in place to guarantee us our constitutional and human rights, we might also be growing out of patience of this vile world. I hope I can find answers in this life for my mother, for my siblings and for most importantly for me.
November 18, 2017: The 2 PM Phone Call From My Mother
“Na Abu Sipepa, Na Abu Sipepa!”- “Your father is found dead! “
I was in Delhi when I received my mother’s phone call, and my father’s news threw me off the cliff. How could I believe what I had just heard? I screamed at my mother for putting up a nasty joke and hurled my phone onto my bed. Almost feeling nothing, I kept staring at my phone. Those few seconds of my life, ah, words fail; I think my heart broke into two. “No! No! No!” I kept muttering under my nose, praying to my God to undo the news from my mother. There are certain things in life which you despise to be true; this was one such case. I prayed to all the Gods in heaven, asking them to undo the 2 PM phone call.
I was reluctant to call my mother; I knew she was in a terrible state. After some time, I gathered the courage to call my siblings in the hope that they would dismiss the news. The only response from my siblings was, “Come home!”
“No! No! No!” I sobbed with a quiver. A part of me died with my father on November 18, 2017.
The journey from Delhi’s airport to my hometown was treacherous. Tears wouldn’t stop rolling. It took me sixteen hours to arrive home to see my father’s dead body; it was the longest day of my life. I locked myself in the flight’s washroom for some moments.
I was and am furious that my state doesn’t have an airport yet, and that it took me several hours to reach home. I am outraged that I don’t have access to good public educational institutions and I had to move to Delhi for better livelihood.
A few hours later, my family learnt that his death was a murder. Our lives are no longer the same, they have come to a standstill.
Case Details: What We Know So Far
My father, late Ngurang Pinch’s body was found in the river near Ramgath, on the confluence of Papum and Poma rivers, under Poma-Jote circle in Arunachal Pradesh, early morning on November 18 by his friends and colleagues. My father had left home on 17th morning for a rafting expedition upon an invitation from his friends (former ministers). Since the plan was last-minute, only his wife saw him leaving and had helped him pack his bags for a night’s stay. His bag contained a sleeping bag, bed sheets, blanket, thermos filled with hot water, and medicines along with his handbag and mobile phone.
It is important to note that none of us had any information about the participants of the expedition. He had only told his wife that two of his friends, who were former ministers, were picking him up.
It was a few hours after his death that new pieces of information were revealed to the family. The rafting guide, Ngurang Nega, who is the youngest of the participants, had come to us on the 18th and informed us about the number of participants in the expedition. He first told us that there were only eight members – former ministers and a few government employees. However, his story lacked consistency, and we weren’t convinced. After much persuasion, he later confirmed that he was pressurised to lie and that he wanted to clarify things this time. His new testimonies revealed that there were twenty-one members – opposition party members, two police personnel, two state-recognized criminals at loose with ‘shoot at sight order’, and four of my father’s clan brothers.
Later, the rafting guide also confessed to stealing my father’s money bag, which contained some cash along with his IDs. However, sobbing and folding his hands, he repeatedly urged that he had nothing to do with my father’s death. And he still maintains that he doesn’t know anything; so does the rest of them.
It is also pertinent to tell the readers that, twenty-one of them claim that they all calmly slept the night before. And then, some of them happened to ‘recover’ my father’s dead body in the river the next morning. But, according to the rafting guide, very soon after that, they held a meeting exempting the rafting guide. They directed everyone to delete all the files from their phones and even warned everyone not to disclose any information about the expedition. According to the guide, they were also seen to be burning some materials, such as clothes or bags. My family and I believe that they had clearly taken the law into their hands; they killed my father and destroyed essential pieces of evidence of the case.
My Family Was Later Shocked To Learn More Information Related To The Case
As per the statements given by Ngurang Nega, there was a heated argument between my father and Ngurang Abraham (one of the clan brothers who is also already a convict in a case) late on 17th night. The guide allegedly heard my father tell others that they would all be arrested after which Abraham asked him to leave the camp lest he should regret. Nega also told us that the same Abraham repeatedly physically abused my father, and most of them were witnesses to it. But surprisingly, everyone still maintains that they did not hear or see anything that fateful night.
The family also has serious concerns about the rafters’ intentions, as they had informed inexplicably late about my father’s death. My father’s body was retrieved from the water at sunrise, which should be between 4.30-5.30 in the morning, but my family received the information only at 2 in the noon. They blamed it on the poor connectivity, but we could make and receive calls when my family went to inspect the spot later.
Also, my father’s mobile phone was untraceable for a long time, and when we recovered it, the phone had a newly created password. This immediately raised many questions as my father lacked such technical knowledge and never had a password.
He Was Murdered, He Didn’t Drown!
My family and I firmly believe that he was murdered the night before, and the murderers disposed of my father’s body in the water, maintaining that he ‘drowned’. I must tell all the readers that my father was an excellent swimmer; he was in good health and was approximately six feet tall. He grew up in the hills, he knew his jungle, and he knew his rivers. A river could never devour him. The reason for my confidence is also the shallow depth of the river – here is a picture to justify my claims.
Some wounds and marks were also seen on my father’s body(on his neck and face). Although we have photographs as proof, to our surprise, the post-mortem report had failed to mention them. This aroused our suspicions all the more.
What Could Be The Motivation Behind His Murder?
My father was a self-made social activist turned career politician who had won the 14th Doimukh Assembly Constituency as an independent candidate in 2004. Before joining the BJP in 2014, just like the 59 of the 60 MLAs in the state, he had a short stint with the Congress and the NCP as well. The present BJP government had appointed him as the Chairman of the Arunachal Pradesh Agriculture Marketing Board, and he was preparing for this year’s Assembly elections which were held on April 11.
The motivation behind my father’s death remains ambiguous. With no testimonies from his friends who accompanied him on November 17, 2017, my family is struggling to fight the case. But, my family and my father’s well-wishers share a firm conviction that my father’s death could be because of his long-standing link with the decades-old, Assam-Arunachal boundary issue. He was very keen on the subject and pressed the government on both the sides for years, to resolve it at the earliest. Because of this unresolved conflict, there were constant tensions between the two states at the borders which often resulted in unwarranted violence and deaths. This disputed area was last in the news after the massacre in Tarasso village on January 29, 2014. The boundary is disputed, and Arunachal Pradesh accuses Assam of encroachment. The matter has come up in the Supreme Court too and the CBI is investigating it.
My father dedicated his life for social work, starting as a grassroots level social worker to becoming the MLA. Maybe, the only way we can honour his work is by finding the truth behind his mysterious death.
Please find herein the Affidavit along with other documents filed in the Supreme Court of India by my father, proving his commitment to the ongoing border dispute.
Here are the links to his activism seeking an amicable solution to resolve the long-pending border issue:
As friends, colleagues and brothers of my father, we expected them to perform their humane duties such as speaking the truth. And if nothing else, allowing my father a dignified farewell. But, they have all disappointed us, I am not sure they deserve to be called humans, friends let alone. They did not care to bring my father’s body home; fearing any associations with my father’s death, they dropped him off some distance away (a village next to the nearest police station) where the villagers were gathered. Since this was my father’s constituency, they were awaiting him for lunch on his request. My family had to go driving for a few hours to receive him. By the time family members arrived at the spot, everyone had fled. No one from the expedition spoke to us; neither did they come for the funeral. Does this not alarm our consciousness? It does to me.
Current Status Of My Father’s Case
A case was registered after that at the Balijan Police Station, u/s 302/34 IPC (punishment for murder and acts done by several persons in furtherance of the common intention), based on FIR 03/17 dated 30.11.17.
Since November 2017, my family and I have been demanding a fair enquiry and trial. Within the first few weeks of my father’s death, fearing the local influence, we began demanding for a CBI enquiry. So far there have been three Special Investigation Teams (SIT) formed on my father’s case. There has been no result yet. On a similar note, there are many cases like my father’s – unresolved murder mystery.
Please read the first report here: Arunachal Times
Please read this to see the state of lawlessness and the failure of the SITs in the state: Arunachal Times
My father’s case is currently investigated by a third time formed SIT-Arunachal Pradesh Police again. My family keeps visiting the Police Headquarters frequently, in the hope of getting answers. There seems to be no progress despite the months that have passed. My family and I are concerned if there is any foul play. I was also told that should they fail to procure any proof, they might soon close the case.
Then What Do We Do?
My family doesn’t have money to afford a lawyer and go to court. All we have is determination and passion to fight the evil. After years of struggle, I am convinced that the idea of justice is like a ghost; for those who see it, believe it, as for many of us, it is just an illusion. And justice is relatively anticipated for those at the higher echelons of our society. But I hope I am proven wrong someday.
The Struggle For Justice
Seeing no progress in the case, my family and I resorted to seek help from the mainstream media. Since November 2017, I have been writing to all the news channels and pleading for coverage, interviews and I also wrote letters to the PMO, Home Ministry, The President of India and also to the CBI Director. I had also repeatedly written articles to the state and national newspapers about the same. But all in vain! While few responded, most of them were indifferent. May be such is the fate of the minorities in this country; our stories will always be marginalized, they will never be found in the first page of the mainstream media.
After a repeated plea to the Arunachal Government, on July 13, 2018, the state government had asked a transfer of my father’s case to the CBI. However, after several months of delay, it was only in early 2019 that the CBI notified the state government that they had rejected my father’s case. The CBI rejected the case saying, “We do not have adequate resources and the case doesn’t have any inter-state ramifications.” I am attaching the concerned documents below.
Since then, it has been a tough battle for justice. My family and I have done everything possible in our capabilities. Just to apprise you with our journey of struggle, the following are the events in a chronological manner.
Please find the links/ files attached below.
- We began with a candle light march in Itanagar, Arunachal’s capital on December 8, 2017. This was where we first began our demands for a CBI invesitgation.
Losing someone is always difficult but to bury your loved ones with no reason is a nightmare. Dear Papa, Thank you for showing there were good people like you, thank you for all that you have done for us and for the society. We believe, there are good people here on this earth, listening to us today. You left us too early papa, we weren't ready for it. Today we are sad and angry, your death is a mystery to us. But you alone can help us now. Please keep showering your blessings, give us strength to fight for your justice. And we, your children, family, friends' and well wishers' promise that we will not rest until we triumph. May you find peace soon. -Bereaved family.Dear people of Arunachal Pradesh, It's been 25 days since the death of our beloved leader and our father, late Ngurang Pinch. His sudden death on the 18th of November last, has left us all in shock and in great pain; we are still coming to terms with his mysterious death. However, one thing we know for sure by now is, his death was a pre-planned murder and not just an accident. We have enough evidences and witnesses to support that now. The SIT Arunachal Pradesh is on with the investigation, with section 302 and section 34 of the IPC i.e. murder and common intention. We sincerely hope and urge they will help us unearth the truth and truth alone and nothing else. Should the SIT fail, we will seek CBI intervention.Coherently, on the 7th December last, an approx of 2000 lovers' and well wishers'of late Pinch gathered at the DNGC ground and there onward, walked together, demonstrating a candle-light vigil for peace, justice and righteousness; demanding, "Justice delayed is justice denied". The vigil was imperative as the march was not just for our late father; it was for all the wrongs in the society; it was for good vs evil, legal vs illegal, it was for a better tomorrow. Thank you all for joining us in our grief and in our fight. From old friends' and the brave daughters' to the women rights activists' such as Ms.Gumri Ringu and Madam Jarjum Ete from APWWS, the fight resonated with much vigor and fervor; against corruption, against dirty culture of politics, numerous deaths and killings, target assassinations and disappearances, against sex-trade, against inhumanity.Kindly watch the video to know what happened in the vigil and share the video and the content to spread awareness about the incident and most importantly share it to bring a change; with your friends, family and any person who you think will stand up against the rotten system. Change will happen,gradually, with you and me, with us. Do not doubt. For when it happens, everything will change. With utmost hope and belief,Sincerely,Family of late Ngurang Pinch.
Justice for Ngurang Pinch ಅವರಿಂದ ಈ ದಿನದಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ಡಿಸೆಂಬರ್ 12, 2017
- We have a page on Facebook called, JUSTICE FOR NGURANG PINCH, we are trying to build pressure on the state government and police through it.
- We had organized a small peaceful protest at the Jantar Mantar, requesting CBI’s intervention. Photo is attached.
- My letter addressed to the PM, a copy is attached.
- The interview on the case with Democracy News Live.
- We started an online petition on change.org for a CBI intervention. My family members mobilised and campaigned in almost all the universities and colleges with the help of the Student’s Body and activists’ here in the state’s capital and the vicinity. So far we have gathered close to 13K supporters. But we don’t know what to do beyond this.
- After one and a half years of pushing the story, The Wire’s Hindi channel agreed to do an interview with me, I thank the channel nevertheless. Here is the link:
- The CBI’s response to our case: the rejection.
- On November 20, 2018, just after a year of my father’s death, my family organized a protest march against the state police for failing to conduct a free and fair trial. My family, along with three other families of similar stories came together to start a movement called ‘Arunachal Resists’ and we organized, what we called ‘A MARCH TO REMEMBER’.
#BLACKNOVEMBER2018. All the four families still await justice, let alone answers to our loved one’s death.
Here is the link to the event: I am also attaching pictures from the event.
Arunachal Pradesh Government has ridiculous amount of money to bring in Bollywood celebrities like John Abraham and Salman khan but cannot afford to put in resources for an effective law and order. Four families have been crying and begging for justice but all in vain! When we met the CBI officials they said, "We don't have human resources and Arunachal Pradesh is too far to reach and the long journey is tedious". But these same officials will take a 20 hour flight to Europe or elsewhere if given a chance for leisure!Is it fair? The Government and its institutions should work for what they are paid for! What a country we live in!20th November 2018, #BlackNovember was the day Arunachal resisted!
Justice for Ngurang Pinch ಅವರಿಂದ ಈ ದಿನದಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ ಬುಧವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 21, 2018
More than thirty plus organisations supported this movement of 'Arunachal Resists' paving way for a revolution in the coming days. Looking forward for more such unions and organisations to come together and make Arunachal peaceful and progressive once again.
Ngurang Meena ಅವರಿಂದ ಈ ದಿನದಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ ಮಂಗಳವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 20, 2018
b: My elder sister Meena addressing the crowd in Arunachal Pradesh. Please listen to her speech.
If the society is going wrong, the blame should be only on us, the public ! #LetsNotbeSilentAnylonger
Ngurang Meena ಅವರಿಂದ ಈ ದಿನದಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ ಭಾನುವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 25, 2018
A Revolution has begun in Arunachal Pradesh ! #ArunachalBadlega
Ngurang Meena ಅವರಿಂದ ಈ ದಿನದಂದು ಪೋಸ್ಟ್ ಮಾಡಲಾಗಿದೆ ಬುಧವಾರ, ನವೆಂಬರ್ 21, 2018
- A story on my father’s case by the Forward Press.
- A link to My Tedx talk, where I am speaking about the discrimination faced by the people of the North-Eastern region in India. My father’s case being one of the examples.
- Last but not the least, my family has announced a reward for any information on my father’s case. Disappointed on the institutions of this country, we have taken a few things on our own hands. I have attached a picture.
Absence Of Peace And Lawlessness In Arunachal Pradesh
The people of Arunachal are aghast and dismayed at the systemic violence and the distorted system with daily reports of extortion, theft, murder, and growing incidents of violence. The failure is, coherently, one of political prudence and planning. In the past three years, the state has seen 161 murders, 26 in Itanagar itself. Very few of them get reported, let alone solved, because they happen in a distant land, ‘somewhere in the North-East part of India’. New Delhi does not care.
My father’s murder is not an exclusive one. I am not claiming any ‘VIP treatment’ for the case, but rather, I am disgusted and furious at the plight of my state and I speak for all those at the receiving end of this corrupt system. Political assassinations and murders have happened here before, almost normalising violence and the culture of impunity enjoyed by a few tribe and clan.
The recent case being the assassination of NPP MLA Tirong Aboh and his family and many more such as DSP (APPSCE) Bomto Kamdak (shot by a criminal at loose and still absconding). One eminent journalist of an esteemed daily was shot here at broad daylight. She survived but the criminal is free, unafraid of the law. An RTI activist was also falsely accused and framed for possessing illegal arms by some powerful person in the state. The government is failing in its duty towards protecting us and we are failing miserably as a society, with no hindsight.
Protesters at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi
Here are the links to substantiate my claims:
Quest For Answers And Peace
My family and I have left no stone unturned in seeking answers for my father’s justice – from pushing for a CBI investigation to dharnas and marches, we have done it all. We know how local influences can stop us from getting justice; where politics and administration is inherently rooted in tribes and clans, justice to many of us looks like an illusion to us at the moment.
I am sharing my family’s story with you with a lot of pain and angst, mostly against the failing police system and lawlessness in my state. I have only done, what could be done; my family relies on me. I don’t know what else can be done. Any help at this time would be appreciated. As no stories from this part of the country get enough attention, I am helpless. My family and I will be grateful for your kindness. I hope this country and the constitution won’t fail me, with these reaffirming thoughts I end my story here.
A friend (journalist) who has been working on my father’s case asked me one day, “Reena do you think you could forgive your father’s killer eventually? Could you?” I replied, “Maybe, but for that I have to know him first, I have to know who killed him and why? If he has a reason, maybe one day I will forgive him.”
And my mother says, “I am angry at my husband for leaving me so early, I am weak without him. Who killed him and why? Who gives anyone the right to kill anyone? This journey of seeking the truth every day of our lives, is treacherous. I hope I will find out my husband’s killer, before I die.”
“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
– Haile Selassie
With utmost faith, Yours Ngurang Reena and family of late Ngurang Pinch.
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