Bipen Rabha

BipenRabha

Bipen is from the reclusive minority tribal Rabha community of MadariPirPada block of Alipurduar. The Rabha people are of Indo-Mongoloid ethnicity and are traditionally forest dwellers, dependent on cultivation and forest produce for their livelihood. Hailing from a small family of forest dwelling farmers, Bipen was formerly aprofessional football player, and has played for clubs across Nagaland and Bhutan. He gave up a 9-year long football career to join Uttar Banga Ban Jan Shram Jeevi Manch (Himalayan Forest Villagers’ Organization) in 2013. Since then, he has helped his Gram Sabha (village council)successfully set up patrolling across their community forests to stop illegal timber logging and poaching. He has also been instrumental in mobilizing his community to unite and fight for their rights to Jal, Jangal and Jameen (Water, Forest & Land). Bipen’s experiences with the media have been limited, and mostly bitter, with many of his community’s stories being taken out of context and overdramatized. Using a computer for the first time at the IU training, Bipen has had revelations about technology and the ease with which he can now adequately represent crucial issues of his community. He believes that anything is possible if a community stands together, and looks forward to reporting on the repression faced by his Rabha community.