Rung community members at Indo-China border return to roots
DEHRADUN: Communities such as Rung in Darma valley at Indo-China border have always been leaders on reverse migration.
The communities in Darma, Johar and other valley areas of the international border with communities such Rung, Martolia, Bhotiya, Shauka and others are leading the beacon of reverse migration which is already their way of life.
Members of the community returning home after retirement from countries like Australia and the United Arab Emirates said that they have to return to their birthplace.
Gopal S. Rayapa and Savitri Rayapa are examples of Rung community members who after having stayed in Dubai for nearly forty years decided to move to their home town Dharchula and village Budi.
"It's as if it is engrained in our Rung DNA that wherever we may be born, we never forget our roots are in our respective villages," says Savitri Rayapa.
All the rituals right from birth, marriage and death need to be performed at the native place as nature worship along with the importance of motherland holds a supreme place in the lives of these communities.
Thousands of families return to the border villages to claim their ancestral land and perish where they started their lives.
Permanent migration is not the motive of these communities which also paves the way for rest of Uttarakhand to learn.
Fighting many battles at a time including tough terrain, lack of modern facilities, availability of amenities such as mainland, these people hold the love of their land close to the heart.
Sandesha Rayapa-Garbiyal, who holds a doctorate and is working as an assistant professor in Jawahar Lal Nehru University, Delhi, commenting the issue said, "The communities residing in these areas never engage with the idea of leaving their birthplace permanently. Travelling for years to Tibet, Nepal, Bombay and numerous other places for trading has been a centuries-old practice. People used to return then after years and they do the same now."
However, state government officials also give credit to development work such as building if roads, electricity connections and availability of running water a reason behind the return of many of the families in these border areas.
Bhagat Singh Fonia, sub-division magistrate of Dharchula sub-division said, "A lot of roads have been built to improve connectivity. Development work is happening in these areas at a fast pace. It is easy to settle here than it was in earlier years."
Sriram Singh Dharamsaktu, a retired commandant from Border Security Forces has already started construction on his ancestral land to spent his retirement in Milam village.
"We really never ever leave our homes forever. It's a centuries-old tradition of returning home. Then it was trade and now it is finding jobs to make a living," adds Dharamsaktu.
Over 50% of families from these areas have said to leave their ancestral homes in search of livelihood which is returning to their roots now.
In a report in the year 2018, it was revealed that a total of 5.02 lakh people migrated from the state’s villages in the past decade.
Out of these, 3.83 lakh people who migrated from 6,338 villages keep visiting their villages periodically whereas 1.18 lakh people have permanently migrated.
Shekhar Pathak, a Padam awardee activist who has travelled the Himalayas at least 17 times on foot said, "We should be proud of the communities showing us the way of life going back to our roots. Our government should appreciate and promote such practices to check migration and existence of ghost villages without population."