CM appeals for peace, Congress demands President’s Rule
ITANAGAR, Feb 24: The situation in the capital continues to be highly volatile since Friday afternoon as protestors set ablaze several vehicles near the IG Park tennis court here at around 8:30 pm on Saturday even as curfew has been imposed in the capital complex region.
On Saturday, the capital complex administration declared curfew within the territory of the capital area from 3 pm till 9 am on Monday. Seven companies of the army have reportedly been deployed in the capital complex, and it is understood that five more are on their way here.
However, on Sunday morning, reports came in that Deputy CM Chowna Mein’s bungalow in Niti Vihar had been set ablaze by protestors. At the time of writing, a protestor was injured in police firing when they attempted to damage Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s bungalow near the circuit house here – and violence continues in Itanagar and Naharlagun.
Violence had broken out in Naharlagun and Itanagar on Friday with protestors, who are opposing the proposal to grant permanent resident certificates (PRC) to non-APSTs, fighting pitched battles with police personnel from early afternoon till late into the night.
The protestors resorted to pelting stones and shooting catapults, and the police responded by firing tear gas and blank shots. It is reported that a youth, identified as Riso Tarih (22), a native of Laying village in Kurung Kumey district, died in police firing on Friday night, while another was injured.
It is learnt that the protestors have decided to bury the deceased at the tennis court near IG Park.
On Friday, the offices of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union and the All Nyishi Students’ Union were set ablaze by groups of protestors, who later proceeded to IG Park and torched vehicles and DG sets there. Stalls at the park were destroyed, and the violence spread to the Dorjee Khandu convention centre, where several parked vehicles were set ablaze by the protestors. The state secretariat building was also under siege for a long time.
Late Saturday morning, speaking to journalists at his bungalow, Chief Minister Pema Khandu termed Friday’s violence “unfortunate.” He said that as soon as he heard about the law and order disturbance in the capital, he had issued a statement on the social media, stating that the joint high power committee’s (JHPC) recommendations on PRC would not be tabled in the state assembly.
“The previous governments tried to solve the PRC issue. The first JHPC was led by Jarbom Gamlin. The second one, under Takam Sanjoy, in its recommendations submitted in 2017 to the government clearly mentions that PRCs should be issued,” Khandu said.
He said, however, that the matter could not be taken up then as the recommendations contained “only Sanjoy’s signature and not of the other members of the JHPC.”
The CM said that, since the recommendations could not be relied upon, the new JHPC had to be formed, under Nabam Rebia. He said the Rebia-led committee submitted its recommendations only after several rounds of discussions had been held with the stakeholders.
“Our intention was to further discuss in the assembly’s short hour duration, and to take the views of the MLAs and the people before moving ahead,” Khandu said, adding that there was a misconception that the recommendations were going to be turned into a bill.
“The government is always ready to have wider discussions with all the stakeholders in the near future,” the CM said.
He appealed to the people, especially in Naharlagun and Itanagar, to “maintain calm and unity,” and gave assurance that wider consultations would be held on the PRC issue.
“The army has taken over now, and I appeal to the people to remain at home and not venture out in the night,” Khandu said.
“It is sad that so many public properties and vehicles were destroyed, and that both the public and security forces were injured in the violence,” he said.
Khandu said the government is going to order a commissioner-level inquiry into the entire incident, and initiate action as per the laws.
Later, in the afternoon, addressing media persons at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan here, Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee president Takam Sanjoy offered condolences to the families of the deceased youths, and termed Friday’s violence a failure of the state government.
He demanded that all the cabinet ministers of the state government resign over their inability to contain the situation.
Sanjoy, along with leader of opposition Takam Pario, further demanded that President’s Rule be imposed in the state.
On being asked about their opinion on granting of PRCs to the non-APST communities of Changlang and Namsai districts, while Sanjoy said he had no comment to offer, Pario said it was a matter for the government to decide.
They said the Congress is going to submit a representation to the governor regarding the party’s stand on the situation. (This is a developing story)