The shrinking park that was ours once

[ Tongam Rina ]

They say that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
No one knows it better than the BJP, the party in power in Arunachal, which has twisted every rule in the book for a party office in IG Park.
The BJP knows that IG Park is an important public space, but still the party has gone ahead and bought the land from the government – a move facilitated by the government itself.
With the state BJP’s willful infringement, Chief Minister Pema Khandu needs nobody else to embarrass him. But the bigger question is: why did the chief minister agree to such a proposal?
The allotment would not have been possible without intervention from the highest level of government.
IG Park is already shrunken beyond belief. From private residences and shops to government establishment, the only green space in Itanagar has been encroached on. Whatever remains of the park has been concretized in the name of beautification by the forest department, while it watched the park being encroached on, inch by inch, by its own government and by private individuals.
While there is hue and cry over the government’s decision to hand over a part of the park to a political party, perhaps the citizens, by keeping quiet every time the park’s land been snatched forcibly, have emboldened the government and the BJP to disregard the rules.
Today, it has reached a point where the only place which has been synonymous with protests in the state capital has been bought by the party in power, totally disregarding public sentiments. The only consolation is that a portion of the main protest area has been left out; but it’s just matter of time before that portion, too, is encroached on.
The BJP, which has paraded itself as a party with a difference, is no different from any other party in power. In the instant case, it is misusing its power and disrespecting popular opinion, as if it would never have to go back to the people, seeking votes.
The party still has time to salvage its marred reputation by returning the land to the government.
Every available government land in the capital region has been occupied by citizens – most of them the government’s own employees – in the last couple of decades, right under the nose of the government. It has reached a point where the government is talking about regularizing land encroached by public, which has encouraged further encroachment.
The question remains why the government has sold the land to a political party when it knows that IG Park is the only space for celebration of important government events, as well as a space used by citizens to celebrate, to stage protests, to walk.
Don’t kill the only remaining space for democratic dissent and celebrations.