Splinder Areng, the Nokma (village head) of Daribokgre, was killed on his doorstep February 14th. Splinder was shot in the back by a a member of a local militant group.
In recent years the Garo Hills has had to deal with several armed separatist groups. These groups strive towards a Greater Garoland, a Garo state separate from Meghalaya. As a result of their guerilla tactics, violent clashes with the armed police occur frequently. Daribokgre is located deep inside the Garo jungle, where such violent clashes between militants and army usually take place. As a result, most communities in this area are forced to deal with the demands of both militants and the army on a daily basis.
According to local media, Splinder was killed because the militants claimed he was “a police informant”. Whether he was or not, it doesn’t justify what was done to him and his family.
We’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Splinder fairly well over the past 1,5 years. He was a warm, joyful man who always had the best interest of his community at heart.
A former hunter himself, he had developed a keen sense of the importance of nature and has been a pioneer for conservation in the region.
In this interview Splinder explains about permanent terrace farming in his community. Six families of his community recently converted their land into terraces, rendering slash and burn cultivation (Jhumming) unnecessary.
These are the last images we have of Splinder.
It was an honor to have known Splinder and we will cherish the memories of the evenings we spent in his company sharing stories at his house. Our sympathies go out to Splinder’s wife and five children, who we wish well in coping with this great loss.
During earlier visits to Aretika, the villagers explained they cannot live off of fishery anymore. Due to the polluting effects of coal mining they were catching less and less fish and were forced to look into other jobs to make a living.
Nowadays the ex-fishermen (and their wives) filter the coal debris from the river they used to fish in, and sell the collected coal to coal dealers.
For their school project in the Netherlands, Mette and Sietske asked us to find out more about deforestation in India.
In this video local people, government officials and conservationist experts answer Mette and Sietske’s questions by describing the various factors of deforestation in the Garo Hills.
Lastly a note for Mette and Sietske:
Good luck with the rest of your project and hope our video’s are a helpful addition to your ‘profielwerkstuk’!!
The past months it was monsoon season. For us (the WIWC reporters) there was less work to film, as many of WTI’s activities here in the Garo Hills were stopped due to the heavy rainfall.
- In this VIDEO STORY you can check out the monsoon rains in the Garo Hills.
Unlike us, our WTI colleagues in Assam had MORE work to do the past months. Since the flood in 2004, this year has been the most devastating in Kaziranga. At the worst point 80% of the national park was flooded and many animals were disoriented or even drowned. Others were fleeing the national park in search for the higher grounds of the Karbi Anglong Hills. To reach there they have to cross the region’s main highway, which lead to an increase of car hits. To make things worse poachers have been taking advantage of the situation by killing Rhino’s and Tigers while they were outside protected park borders.
Together with the Assam Forest Department the WTI-IFAW rescue team tried to save as many animals as possible. The team helped save over a 100 animals during the month long floods in Kaziranga National Park.
Our colleagues in Assam:
Pictures: WTI staff Assam
Last month my parents came over to India to see what my life is like here in the Garo Hills.
Paul (my boyfriend & last years Whatifwechange reporter in India) and I showed them around in Tura, and we had an overnight stay in one of WTI’s project villages.
I documented their stay in the traditional hut, as they were the first eco-tourists to sleep there! We hope this visit inspired them, and more eco-tourists will find their way to this beautiful spot.
After touring around in the Garo Hills, we went to Cherrapunji to enjoy its beautiful sceneries: lakes, living rootbridges and waterfalls (third highest in the world).
Some screenshots and photo’s to show you guys what an amazing place Meghalaya is: