ITANAGAR, Feb 5: The United Arunachal Indigenous Peoples’ Forum (UAIPF) on Tuesday announced that it will organize a bike rally on 10 February to protest the state government’s apathy towards the forum’s demand that the chief minister and his deputy withdraw their statements regarding granting permanent resident certificates (PRC) to non-APST people living in Lekang and other parts of the state.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu and DCM Chowna Mein had allegedly announced to issue PRCs to non-APSTs living in Lekang (Namsai district) and Vijaynagar (Changlang) areas during their tours to those areas towards the end of last year. The duo has been facing flak from several quarters since then, and even though the government later clarified that issuing PRCs would not entitle
the non-APSTs to land rights, the excoriation of their announcements continues.
The UAIPF, which has been protesting the move to grant PRCs to non-APSTs, said it would take out the bike rally from the Nyikum Niya ground in Nirjuli to IG Park here.
Addressing media persons at the press club here, UAIPF president Laffe Paffa said, “Our demand is clear that the chief minister and deputy chief minister should immediately withdraw their statements/promises made to the non-APSTs living in Lekang and other places.
“We vehemently condemn the CM, the DCM and also former minister Bida Taku for undermining the sentiments of the indigenous people of the state,” Paffa said, adding that “they should not to stoop so low for political gains and to make vote bank with such low-level appeasement tactics.”
Questioning the role of the joint high power committee (JHPC) constituted by the state government to study the legal feasibility of issuing PRCs to non-APSTs, Paffa said the JHPC should act in the greater interest of the indigenous people.
“Whatever reports or decisions they prepare or submit to the state government, it should be in favour of the indigenous people of the state, without violating the existing Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873,” Paffa said.
He also questioned “why the sentiments of the indigenous people are being hurt repeatedly, from issues of Chakma-Hajong to PRCs and the citizenship amendment bill,” and demanded that the legislators and the state government “first work for the welfare of the indigenous people.”
Expressing serious exception to the frequent economic blockades imposed in Lekang area by various Assam-based non-APST organizations, Paffa said, “Claiming PRCs by non-APSTs is baseless and total violation of BEFR Act, 1873.”
“We respect them as Indian citizens, but we cannot share our indigenous lands with them,” the UAIPF president said, adding that possession of PRCs in Arunachal Pradesh by non-APSTs “is a big no, and we will fight tooth and nail to safeguard our rights.”
The forum also urged the indigenous people of the state to support its stand. “This is the right time to fight for our rights. We appeal to each and every indigenous person to support us,” it said.
The UAIPF had submitted memorandums to the governor, the CM and the DCM on 22 January, demanding immediate withdrawal of the statements made by the CM and the DCM to issue PRCs to the non-APST people living in Lekang and other places.