By Renu Gupta

North East of Bharat has seven jewel states, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland , Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. Some people add Sikkim state also to this jewel of Bharat.

North East of Bharat covers 8% of the total land and 3.8% of total population. This unique land has 98% of the border connected with other countries like China, Bhutan , Myanmar and Bangladesh. Only 26 miles of belt connects North East with rest of Bharat. It is very unfortunate that this land has been disconnected, disassociated and neglected with rest of Bharat; many people even don’t know that North East Bharat is integral part of us. This land is full of natural resources, abundance of agriculture, big producer of Rice, fruits and vegetables. Assam is the largest producer of Tea not only in Bharat but also in the whole world.

North East is rich in music, handicraft and dance. The weaving and knitting is the household activity. Every tribe has its own way to wear sarees and has its own designs. A design of scarf, which is worn by every person, represents different tribes. Even the sarees may look same to us, but they are different in designs and style.

Northeast is all tribal belt with 250 different tribes. This land has very little influence of castes. There is no dowry system in the society. Each tribe has its own identity and culture. All tribes are strong Hindu , but missionaries and now in filtered Muslim aggressors made all the efforts to destroy it’s culture, heritage and Dharmic traditions. The result is three sates ( Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland) are Christian majority states. Many districts in Assam are Muslim majority. This infiltration of other religions have really hurt the sentiments of Hindus. From years Christian missionaries have created two major misconceptions to misguide the society, first: Christian missionaries are the only one to provide good education and better living. Christians are neat and clean people and second is: society is divided between Christians and non-Christians. This way they wanted to wipe out the Hindu word from North East.

After enjoying the Kaziranga, world heritage national park, having rare Darshan of Kamakhya mandir and visiting famous cities like Guwahati, Shilong and Imphal we decided to visit SAC supported hostels. Shri Ajay Pareek ji (Organizing General Secretary of VHP, North east) arranged our trip and with other respected volunteers of VHP accompanied us.

In North East, all VHP work is done under the banner of Uttar Poorvanchal JanJaati Seva Samiti registered in 1990. This Samiti is active in each of seven northeast states. We visited three states of NorthEast, Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur. We notice each state has its own heritage, language, food and different style of shawls and skirts. They are very close to each other but surrounded by their own traditions and territories. Now One National theory has been working with them people of North East are realizing they belong to Akhand Bharat. I found people of Manipur has lot of anger and frustration, for not getting enough recognition and being rules and bullied by neighboring states and Burma . There is some confusion also what religious tradition people of Manipur follow. INA Museum ( Subhash Chadra Bose’s Azzad Hind sena) was the best experience in this trip. 40Km away from Imphal is the spot where Bose and His army reached. The museum displays several rare photos and materiel of Azad Hind Sena.

VHP is running 16 schools and 20 hostels in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal, and Mizoram boarding 450 + students. SAC supports only 126 out of 450 students. Our goal is to add 100 more students in SAC fold in 2019. VHP volunteers are working under very odd and troublesome conditions. They are committed and contribution from SAC
– USA inspires them. SAC – USA also plans to support two tailoring centers in SAC hostels where they will get proper training of tailoring and weaving/knitting.

Our first stop was Phuloni a village about 100 Km away from Guwahati. This hostel has 22 boys. The hostel is in the compound of Vidya Bharati school. Hostel has older building and new building is under construction. We met all the students of the hostel and found boys very respectful and disciplined. They recited some prayers to us. Vidya Bharati school has 400+ students who come from nearby area. These 22
boys are selected strictly on financial needs. Local team is excited with the support from SAC-USA and the new building to be ready soon. They plan to expand the student’s base in the hostel. We met two teachers who are previous students of the hostel and two VHP fulltime workers resided in the hostel.

Our second stop was “Shri Shankardev Shishu Niketan “ in Hozai a medium size town that has 60% of Muslim population. This hostel is started by Swami Krishnanad ji in 1986. This is one of the oldest school with 900 + students and so is hostel. This hostel is also built with Vidya Bhartai School. Hostel has 32 boys, they live in very simple and moderate hostel cum home setting. Hostel also has Mandir of Vishnu and Shiv Bhagwan. Assam has a tradition of Naamdhari , means that mandir does not have any deity but they recite the names of all GODS. Society does not have much of cast system, it is more of Hindu/Muslims, specially where it is Muslim majority. Since the school is functioning very effectively from long time, this location with Mandir, Large Halls has become a center of (Ghar Vapsi ) (Home-Back) for many marrying couples who want to reconvert to Hindu Dharma.

Again the students were very loving and respectful. They enjoyed little treats we got for them. Cook at the hsotel prepared very tasteful lunch consisting Eggplant pakoras, Paneer, aloo and gobhi mix sabji, rice and daal for us. People from North east don’t eat much wheat.

Our 3 rd stop was Haflong’s girls hostel. After driving 125 Km from Hozai, we reached to Haflong. Haflong is a hilly station and roads were very rough in last 35 Km stretch , driving was just risky and it was getting dark. After four hours we reached the girls hostel. 28 girls were waiting for us , they were looking beautiful in their traditional dress and each dress was different. We had very warm welcome, girls recited 12 chapter of Bhagwat Geeta , they remebred by heart. Rani Gadinlue great freedom fighter from The area (Assam, Manupur and Nagaland) is very well respited in Haflong. She is worshiped in the mandir also. This hostel has very impressive building. Ground floor is built by Swami Narayan and IDRF and first floor is built by ONGC. Girls weave traditional design scarves in hostel. We had dinner in hostel cooked by these girls. These girls study in nearby Vivekanand English medium school, run by VHP.

Our 4 th stop was Mohta Boys Hostel , we visited this hostel in morning. The boys hsotel is located on the side of Vivekanand school. Hostel hosts 35 boys. The hostel is very simple and moderate, rooms are built with the donation of local businessmen. We also joined morning prayer session of school. All students were standing for 30 minutes, very disciplined and calm. Their uniform was very impressive in teal and
maroon color. We had the fortune to meet Shri Ramnath ji, very dedicated RSS
pracharak, he is from Itawa UP but have been serving Haflong area from last 45 years, 1500 Km far from his home. He traveled the area in early years saw the problem and challenges and has established two hostels and school with quality education. Rampant ji very well respected and appreciated. Ramnath ji, an 87-yearyoung man has credibility in the area. He monitors both hostels in Haflong.

All boys and girls in hostels come from very poor and backward background. They receive quality education , attend board certified schools, enjoy safe and comfortable home like hostels, get high values in life and learn other recreational activities. Each boy and girl has a bed, desk and basic utensils to use. I found rooms, clean and well arranged. 8 to 10 children share one large hall. Hired cooks and other staff members run the kitchen. Many senior students also help. They receive total four meals, morning breakfast with milk, lunch, afternoon snacks and dinner. Their daily schedule is very tight and busy. Schedule includes, doing school homework, playing games, also performing prayers and helping in hostel work. When challenges are more so is the hard work done by volunteers.

Northeast is our very valuable asset to the nation but needs lot of work, confidence and trust. I really appreciate very much the dedication of all the volunteers and full time/part time staff. Northeast has huge scope of work. Pareek ji has set the goal to expand number of boys and girls boarding in SAC hostels from 450 to 1000 by end of this year, lets all help him.