Changlang District covered with picturesque hills lies in the southeastern corner of Arunachal Pradesh, northeast India. It has an area of 4,662 sqr. Km and a population of 1,48,226 persons as per 2011 Census. According to legend the name Changlang owes its origin to the local word CHANGLANGKAN which means a hilltop where people discovered the poisonous herb, which is used for poisoning fish in the river.
Changlang District has reached the stage in its present set up through a gradual development of Administration. Prior to 14th November 1987, it was a part of Tirap District. Under the Arunachal Pradesh Reorganization of Districts Amendment Bill 1987, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh, formally declared the area as a new District on 14th November 1987 and became 10th district of Arunachal Pradesh.
The area covered by the present Changlang District was part of Tirap District in the north-eastern extremity of India bordering Burma (now Myanmar) until the district was bifurcated from Tirap District on November 14, 1987. United Tirap district was the only District of Arunachal Pradesh on the southern bank of Brahmaputra, and in early times it was the gateway to India in the east. Placed between the plains of the Brahmaputra on the west and the valley of the Irrawaddy on the east, this area witnessed movement of the peoples from the Patkai ranges from time immemorial. Hordes of migratory tribes of Mongoloids called kirata in the ancient Indian scriptures drifted to Assam through this district. It was in Assam and its neighboring regions that these tribes were absorbed. Literary and ethnological sources indicate that the early waves of the Mongoloid migration entered India in the East before 1000 B.C. at about the same prehistoric time as the arrival of the Aryans in the West. As there is little or no material proves of these early movements and no ancient settlements of the people have been discovered, we can’t, at the best of our present knowledge, do little more than faintly trace the course of tribal migrations that took place in comparatively later times.
Advent of the Ahoms:
The history of the District emerged from obscurity and dubious traditions in the early part of the 13th century A.D. when the Ahoms came from North Burma through Pangsau Pass over the Patkai range, and made steady advance along the course of the Noa-Dihing River in Tirap. The Ahoms, who ruled in Assam and its eastern regions for six centuries from A.D.1228 to 1826, left a series of invaluable historical chronicles known as Buranjis, which throw a flood of light on the late medieval history of united Tirap. A good deal of authentic knowledge of the people living in this country and their relations with the Ahoms can be gleaned from the Buranjis. Although these sources are scrappy as historical documents, the recorded history, as distinct from archeology, of the District may be taken as beginning from the days of the arrival of the Ahoms. At the outset of their victorious campaigns, the Ahoms came into contact with the tribal people of the Tirap, Changlang and Longding having a large number of tribes and sub-tribes living in the present-day Tirap, Changlang and Longding Districts. The Ahom Buranjis refer to them by different Assamese names like Khamjangias, Aitonias, Tablungias, Namsangias etc. As per the Buranjis their chief Sukapha was the founder of the Ahom kingdom in Assam. On crossing over the Patkai hills, the Ahoms descended upon Tirap River and through this land they forced their way to Assam. Their incursion led to a series of violent clashes in which the Ahoms had to first combat the local tribes, who strongly resisted their advance. As a matter of fact, the various tribal groups of these areas and the Ahoms were engaged in constant clashes starting from the eighties of the fifteenth century.
The World War II Exodus from Burma, 1942:
In April 1942 during World War II, Japanese forces overran Burma and occupied whole of the country by forming a nominally independent Burmese administrative government. With the effective collapse of the entire defensive line of Allied forces, there was little choice left to British government and Allied forces other than an overland retreat to India or to Yunnan Province, China. The retreat was conducted in horrible circumstances. Starving refugees, disorganized stragglers, and the women, children, old, sick and wounded clogged the primitive roads and tracks leading to India. At least 5,00,000 civilian fugitives reached India, while an unknown number, conservatively estimated between 10,000 and 50,000, died along the way. In later months, 70 to 80% of those who reached India were afflicted with diseases such as dysentery, smallpox, malaria or cholera, desperately tried to adjust their lives in a new place and environment. On 26 April the British, Indian and Burmese forces joined the civilians in a full retreat.
The Stilwell Road (Ledo road):
The Historic Stilwell’s Road, 1726 Km long road was constructed during the Second World War time by the Allied Soldiers lead by America in record time within about three years. It started from Ledo, in Assam, India, one of the railheads of the Bengal-Assam railway in the valley of the Upper Bramaputra, to the Burma Road, which connected to Kunming, China. In Indian side, it passed through Lekhapani, Nmampong and the Pangsau pass on the India-Burma (now Myanamar) border. It wound up the passes of the 9000 foot high Patkai Range and emerged at Shindwiyang and reached Mitkyina. It crosses the broad bowl of the Upper Chindwin, threads the Hukawng and Mogaung valleys, and goes down to Bhamo, eventually connecting to the Burma Road. Much of this road has been reclaimed by the natural landscape, due to lack of maintenance, but portions of it have been and/or are being restored in Indian side.