[ Tongam Rina ]
Arunachal has a dubious record of calling bandhs. According to information furnished in the legislative assembly in September 2012, Arunachal Pradesh had witnessed 173 days of bandhs between September 2001-2012. Add a dozen days more between 2012-17 as we know there are several jobless organizations in the state, who, perhaps have never contributed anything to the state apart from calling bandhs in the name of saving the state, the communities and the clans.
Though bandhs are rare and few these last few months, because of collective effort of the administration and various committees including the markets and transport organizations, and defiance by the citizens, it is shameful that organizations hold the state to ransom for reasons which are not acceptable.
One just wishes that instead of inconveniencing thousands of people in the capital region, these bandh callers would instead opt for hunger strikes or something similar without disturbing our schedules, and yet make a powerful statement.
Remember the hunger strike by the Arunachal Pradesh Civil Service aspirants after the papers were leaked?
The 72 hours hunger strike at IG Park was joined by hundreds of ordinary citizens who had nothing to do with the civil service exams but were those who wanted a fair recruitment process. The hunger strike resulted in fixing responsibility and accountability, at least for that particular exam.
Why make the citizens suffer for no fault of theirs when there are so many ways of lodging a protest against the government.
No one gains when a bandh is called in a begging state that is solely dependent on the dole out from the centre. Local economy suffers and people, mostly tribal women who run the households have to bear the brunt of illogical bandhs.
Ask the woman who feeds her family by selling vegetables in the local market. By calling a bandh, her only source of income is stopped for the day. Ask a daily wage earner who is solely dependent on a day’s wage to keep the kitchen running.
Ask a sickly patient who has to go to the hospital by taking an auto. Ask a police personnel whose yearly holiday has been cut short because she has to get back to work since an organization has decided to call a bandh.
It is of course stupid to expect bandh callers to see any reason other than their own inflated ideas.
The state has suffered enough because of bandhs. A precious life was lost in 2011 bandh call when there was a power struggle among the politicians. Scores have been injured in police retaliation because of bandhs.
For the record, bandh callers rarely have had the sympathy of the suffering public. The only time a bandh has had sympathy was when the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union called a bandh to oppose the decision to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees. Emotions were running high triggered by the insensitivity of the centre but then students went a step ahead by indulging in violence by torching vehicles, losing the public sympathy.
No matter how deep or emotional the issue is, violence or bandh call is never a solution to any problem.
There are legislations as well as court rulings that allows crack down on bandh callers, including the very questionable and tough Arunachal Pradesh Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
If organizations and citizens were alert, as they are when there is a political upheaval and monetary gains to be made, Arunachal Pradesh Unlawful Activities (Prevention) bill would never have been passed in the first place by the assembly of 60 wise people because it infringes on the rights of the citizens. Most of the time, we get what we don’t deserve because there are organizations that take the entire state machinery and public to ransom by indulging in disruptive activities, including bandhs.
Calling a bandh, which most of us don’t identify with, thereby restricting the movement of citizens and right to earn a livelihood is the biggest slap on the common people in the name of democratic movement.
[ Tongam Rina ]