Pillar of Four Tribes was built in 1959 and is dedicated to Nocte, Wancho, Tangsa and Singpho tribes, for their contribution in making the road that measured 108 miles.
Pillar of Four Tribes refer to the memorial located at Khonsa, the headquarter of Tirap district. It is built at the center of junction of three roads, leading to the Khonsa township, to Changlang district, and to Longding district. Khonsa Petrol Pump is the landmark of this memorial.
K. A. Ayyaswami Raja, the Political Officer of Tirap Frontier Tract, was the main brain behind the construction of the road. Raja went on to become the Deputy Commissioner of Tirap district, and then the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh (1975-79).
On December 15, 1956, the natives of Tirap Frontier Tract, namely Nocte, Wancho, Tangsa and Singpho tribes, pooled in their manpower and started to built the road on self-help basis. The people of the four tribes worked voluntarily and there was no contractor assigned to oversee the work. Their ration and other necessities were taken care by the rulers of Borduria and Namsang villages through their famous Namsang-Borduria Fund, which was formed in 1948.
The road was one hundred and eight miles long. The center point of the road was Khonsa, and the road connected Khonsa with Changlang, Longding and Bogapani in Tirap.
In 1958, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, was informed about the roadwork. Among other gifts, Nehru received four mini marble statues. Each statue symbolized Nocte, Wancho, Tangsa and Singpho tribal man.
Nehru was impressed, and on November 18, 1958, he penned down a letter of appreciation. He wrote the following:
"To Nocte, Tangsa, Wanchoo and Singpho.
My dear children,
Thank you for your letter and the beautiful presents you have sent me. I like them very much.
My love to you all.
The monument is around 12 feet tall and consists of five parts, and they are as follows:
The monument is topped by the majestic Ashoka Emblem, the state emblem of India. There are four lions in the emblem that face four different directions, namely north, east, south, and west. Conveniently, the monument also represent four tribes, namely Nocte, Wancho, Tangsa and Singpho, and thereby syncing perfectly with the iconic emblem.
The following is written in the mentioned face of the monument:
"Dedicated to the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God, for the spirit, courage and strength infused in Noctes, Wanchos, Tangsa, Singphos, and all those who served in Tirap Frontier Division to construct one hundred and eight miles of road, between 15 December 1956 and 28 February 1959, in a working period of nine months for the peace, progress and prosperity to the people of this division, and the country as a whole."
The following is inscribed in Base Face II:
"We cut these roads. That from the meeting of the ways, new vistas might lie open to our progeny. Remember us. Think well. We do not ask your praise. Only the faith to pass the crossroads of your destiny."
The writing on Base Face III is the Hindi version of the writings of the writings on the first face:
"तिरप सीमित अवचल तथा सारे देशवासियो की शांति प्रगति और समृद्धि के लिए १५ दिसम्बर १९५६ से २८ फेब्रुअरी १९५९ तक केवल नौ मास के कार्यकाल में एक सो आठ मील लम्बे राजमार्ग का निर्माण करने के लिए जिसने नोक्टे वान्चू सिंगफो टंगसा और अन्य कर्मचारियों को साहस और शक्ति प्रदान की ऊस सर्वव्यापी ईश्वर को समर्पित।"
The writing on Base Face III is the Assamese version of the writings of the writings on the first face.
The construction of the road was completed on February 28, 1959. From 1956 to 1959, the total number of working hours was only nine months.
After that, a monument known as the Pillar of Four Tribes, was built in the memory of all the people involved in the construction of the road. For their active contributions and their vision for a better future, the name of Nocte, Wancho, Tangsa and Singpho tribes were inscribed on the monument.
From each tribe there was at least one figure who were individually recognized for their leadership role in the construction of the road. There were also four marble statues for each individual at the four corners of the monument. The recognized individuals were as follows:
Matchian Ngowa, a Nocte from Kheti village, was recognized for his active contributions. He is the perfect blend of the forsaken Nocte culture and the progressive Nocte society. It is because he was a Nocte warrior who had slain many of his enemies, and took their heads as a trophy. The necklace with replica of human head is worn by a head-hunter only. The tattoo marks on his body is also a testimony of his head-hunting practise.
Ngowa was the Gaon Bura of Kheti and a prominent public leader who co-ordinated with the government for the establishment of Khonsa as the headquarter of Tirap district. He helped the administration while constructing the roads in the district. His grandson, Ranphoa Ngowa, is the first UPSC officer from the Nocte community. He secured All India Rank (AIR) of 82nd and joined the Indian Forest Service (IFoS) in 2015. As of 2020, he is the Additional Secretary of Education (Government of Arunachal Pradesh) and Director of DoTCL (Department of Tirap, Changlang and Longding).
Ngowa died in the first week of April 1985. His death was condoled by G.S. Patnaik, Deputy Commissioner of Tirap. Patnaik wrote the following letter to Ngowa's wife on April 5, 1985:
"I, on behalf of staff members and general public of Khonsa, express my profound sorrow on the sad demise of Shri Matchian Ngowa, Ex-G.B. of Kheti village.
He was a very good social worker and influential public leader who coordinated with the government for the establishment of District HQs at Khonsa and helped the administration while constructing the roads in Tirap district. With his sad demise the government has lost a good friend of local administration.
May his soul rest in peace."
1. Wangpha Lowang, Former MP (Lok Sabha);
2. Ranphoa Ngowa, IFoS, Addtl. Education Secretary;
3. The Noctes book by Parul Chandra Dutta, 1978;
4. A Collection of Nocte Folksongs, Folktales and Proverbs book by T. Tongluk and Denhang Bosai, 2013;
5. Photo Credit to Chasum Lamaty.