[Nellie N Manpoong]
ITANAGAR, Jan 14: The United People’s Movement of Lekang (UPMoL), supported by numerous kindred organisations, has asked the state government to issue permanent resident certificates (PRC) to the long-residing non-APST communities of Lower Dibang Valley, Namsai, Lohit and Changlang districts on or before 25 January or be prepared to witness an economic blockade in eastern Arunachal.
The UPMoL said the decision was taken during a meeting it held recently with kindred organisations from Arunachal and Assam in view of the delay by the state government in announcing a precise date for issuing PRCs.
Speaking to this daily, UPMoL president Ratan Chetia said the organisations decided to give the state government a timeframe of six days to give a written assurance on the specific date (between 20 and 25 January) when they would receive their PRCs.
He said that, while they seek PRCs from the state government within the specified timeframe, the organisations have additionally resolved to resort to various activities to voice their resentment.
“We will call for a chakka bandh, an economic blockade in eastern Arunachal, and cover the entry gates in Shantipur, Sunpura, Dirak, Namsik and Bordumsa anytime between 20 and 25 January,” he informed.
Besides the kindred organisations from Arunachal, the movement, Chetia said, is also being supported by the All Assam Students’ Union, the All Assam Moran Students’ Union, the All Deori Students’ Union, the Takam Mising Porin Kebang, the Adivasi Tea Tribes Association, “and several others, who will coordinate on the Assam side of the gates.”
Regarding the joint high power committee (JHPC) report, which is expected to be submitted in January itself, he said the JHPC is yet to visit Lekang.
Chetia, however, said JHPC chairman Nabam Rebia had visited Namsai last year and had offered verbal assurance that the report would be submitted by October 2018.
“We cannot trust verbal assurances anymore. We do not have anything in writing regarding the JHPC, except for a letter from the political joint secretary which states that the matter related to issuing PRCs to non-APSTs is under process by the JHPC for deliberations and proceedings,” Chetia said, adding that “it also does not provide us with a specific date when the report would be submitted.”
“When the bifurcation of states took place,” he said, “Arunachal took us as part of the state. If the state accepted us as a part of it, then we should get our rights. If the government doesn’t want us then why not give us an autonomous council?”
Chetia urged people not give the situation a communal colour “and understand that we have been part of the land since before the states of Assam and Arunachal were created.”
On the assurances from Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Deputy CM Chowna Mein, Chetia said, “We have been assured of the same for 30 years now. Somehow, our former community leaders are responsible for the delay. But we will not give up this time. We are only seeking what is rightfully ours and as assured by the highest authorities of the state.”
UPMoL vice president Anirudha Deori sought to dispel the “misinformation being spread among the people,” saying they have been part of the land since before independence.
“Everybody knows we are indigenous people of the land in question. Please come and see the historical evidence here and decide whether we should get PRCs or not,” he said.
Earlier, the UPMoL had called for a chakka bandh in parts of eastern Arunachal from 13 to 15 January, but it deferred the shutdown on the evening of the 13th after the Namsai deputy commissioner assured to take up their issue with the higher authorities.