ITANAGAR, Dec 8: Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s announcement that his government is considering issuing permanent resident certificates (PRC) to non-APSTs living in Namsai and Changlang districts has not gone down well with the Arunachal Pradesh Abotani Community Confederation (APACC), which has vociferously condemned the announcement.
The APACC questioned the manner in which the Khandu-led government made the announcement, stating that the government should take the indigenous people into consideration before taking such a call.
“We do not oppose issuing PRCs to genuine non-APSTs. However, our contention is, there was a committee working on a framework whose report is yet to be submitted,” said APACC chairman Taba Taku during a press conference at the press club here on Saturday.
The state government constituted a joint high-power committee (JHPC), led by Environment & Forests Minister Nabam Rebia as its chairman, earlier this year. The committee is yet to table its report.
Terming the govern-ment’s announcement “irresponsible” and an attempt at political appeasement, Taku expressed apprehension that the government’s decision would have far-reaching repercussions.
Also reacting to Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein’s recent statement that granting PRCs to non-APSTs would be a New Year gift for them, Taku said: “We condemn the government’s abrupt manner of announcement to issue PRCs to non-APSTs as a New Year gift. It is an irresponsible announcement, made without taking the people of Arunachal Pradesh into consideration.”
The organisation pointed out that there was no mention about granting PRCs to non-tribals in the Statehood Act.
When contacted, Mein said that the government is working on an “acceptable solution” to the impasse and would act according to the report filed by the committee.
“We are waiting for the final report, which will be submitted by the end of this month. The report will be placed before the cabinet and accordingly, an acceptable solution will be hammered out.
“I made the announcement saying that it would be a New Year gift for the people of the state as the government will definitely work out an amicable solution which will be acceptable to all,” Mein said.
The confederation also accused the government of undermining the indigenous people’s rights and privileges.
“Our government is undermining the rights and privileges of our own people,” Taku said. However, the government has clarified that issuing PRCs to non-APSTs residing in Arunachal would not give them land rights and privileges at par with to those enjoyed by the indigenous people.
The APACC, however, described the announcement as being against the state’s interests, and demanded it rollback. It expressed apprehension that granting PRCs to non-APSTs hastily would open a floodgate which might potentially be detrimental to the indigenous people’s rights.
“Once they (non-APSTs) are issued PRCs, they will not need ILPs, and once ILP is lifted, the state will be doomed,” said Taba.
The non-APSTs living in Namsai and Changlang have been demanding PRCs, arguing that not having PRCs deprives them of applying for central government jobs.
The United Indigenous People’s Forum of Lekang, the United People’s Movement of Lekang, the All Lekang Youth Association and other community-based organisations, supported by the All Assam Students’ Union, the All Moran Students’ Union, the All Tai Ahom Yuva Parishad, the All Motok Students’ Union, the All Adivasi Students’ Union, and others had imposed a 48-hour bandh in Lekang on 27 November to support the demand for PRCs.
Union asks DCM to withdraw statement
Meanwhile, the All Papum Pare District Students’ Union (APPDSU) has demanded that the DCM withdraw his Friday’s statement that non-APST communities settled in Lekang constituency of Namsai district would get PRCs as a New Year gift.
In a press statement, the union on Saturday said that, as per the court’s directive, the chairman of the JHPC alone could not take the decision without involving all the stakeholders and seeking prior approval from all the members of the JHPC.
“Non-APST communities settled in Lekang constituency of Namsai district should know the fact that none of their elected representatives has attended any meeting of the JHPC till date to voice for their rights,” the APPDSU, which is a member of the JHPC on the PRC issue for non-APSTs settled in Arunachal Pradesh, said.
Stating that the matter “is not confined to the constituency and the district alone,” the union said “such statement from a very responsible person like him (Mein), holding a very high position in the state government, is very condemnable.
“Such irresponsible statement can create chaos and confusion in the state,” the APPDSU said.
The union has threatened to launch a democratic movement against the government if the statement is not withdrawn. (With PTI input)