Objections raised to MAR demand

NES accuses CM of orchestrating MARDC movement

ITANAGAR, Jul 31: Accusing Chief Minister Pema Khandu of “orchestrating and patronizing the Mon Autonomous Region Demand Committee (MARDC) movement,” the Nyishi Elite Society (NES) on Friday said that the CM is “supposed to thwart any attempt of disintegration of the state and not of Mon region alone.”

The MARDC, which also includes legislators as members, has threatened to boycott the panchayat elections in Tawang and West Kameng districts if the state and the central governments do not meet its demand for a Mon autonomous region (MAR), comprising the two districts.

“The much famed Hamara Arunachal Abhiyan (HAA) launched by the state government on 2 October, 2019, with much fanfare has lost its relevance with the emerging situation. There is no political, economic and social deprivation; rather, Mon region tops in all developmental and civic services fronts and therefore it is an ill-conceived demand,” the NES said.

Stating that the movement is ill-timed, with the state under the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic and under threat of external aggression from China, the NES said “it is a fit case to attract the National Security Act (NSA).”

“Such unrest in Mon region may encourage and put leverage to China for more vocal and vehement claim over Arunachal Pradesh or parts of it. In the fight against the deadly Covid-19, the state is left at lurch as the leadership is camped since long back at Tawang to meet the regional aspirations, leaving behind 90 percent of the people of Arunachal Pradesh to fend for themselves at this hour of unprecedented pandemic,” the NES said.

 “It is an irony that the democratic process of grassroots (panchayat) election is dragged into the erratic demand of Mon region autonomy. The government/state cabinet, the political party leaders, the MLAs and state’s three parliamentarians should immediately come out with their respective stands on the ground and rationale of granting autonomy, so as to diffuse the confusion and speculation of the people of the state,” it said.

Stating that the demand for autonomous councils and infighting over narrow regional aspirations would result in a chaotic social and political order in the state, the NES said the issue should be nipped in the bud.

It suggested that “instead of demanding autonomy, people should pitch for creation of a department of backward & remote areas (DoBRA) to take care of the developmental needs in the identified remote pockets and most backward areas of East Kameng, Pakke-Kessang, Papum Pare, Lower Subansiri, Kurung Kumey, Kra Daadi, Kamle, Upper Subansiri, Shi-Yomi, West Siang, Upper Siang, Dibang Valley, Lohit and Anjaw districts.”

The NES further informed that it has been agreed that “no federating member of the AITF (apex CBOs of Kameng and Tawang) should attend the proposed meeting of the MARDC.”

The All Nyishi Student’s Union (ANSU) has also strongly objected to the demand made by the Mon community and said that “it is against the concept of a pan-Arunachal as visualized by Chief Minister Pema Khandu.”

The union termed the demand “a complete misutilization of the 6th schedule of the constitution of India,” saying that the 6th schedule provides rights for autonomous council in order to safeguard the practice of traditional and customary laws “but Arunachal Pradesh being a tribal state already enjoys those rights. So there is no requirement of an autonomous council.”

The union expressed the apprehension that the demand for MAR would result in “disparity among the people, which will lead to the rise in conflict between various groups/community/tribes and all of the tribes will then start to seek autonomous councils.”

It also questioned the logic behind the demand for autonomy when there are already separate departments of DoKAA (for the Mon region) and DoTCL (for Tirap, Changlang and Longding) “wherein special packages are provided every year.”

“Major chunks of all the central and state aided funds are poured into Tawang, West Kameng, Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts, whereas other districts are still very backward as compared to both these districts. Community-based demand for an autonomous council will give rise to many more tribes to claim for the same and fight among themselves,” the ANSU said.

“The minute drawn by the committee says that they will not participate in the upcoming panchayat election, whereas the entire movement is being led by the elected representatives and government officials formed under the 5th schedule and most of all, the OSD to the CM. This questions the morality of the CM and his slogan of pan-Arunachal. Here, we have to assume that this turn of events is being orchestrated by Chief Minister Pema Khandu. If such demands are being led by the CM and an MP who happens to be a union minister, this shows political bullying and misutilization of political position and power,” the union stated.

It also strongly objected to the fact that the MARDC has not tried to gain the confidence of the Nyishi community while demanding an autonomous council, as areas like Lada and Bana circle of East Kameng district belong to the Nyishi community and share boundaries with the proposed boundary of the MAR.

“If the GoAP plans to go ahead with the demands, then the Nyishi community must also be given an autonomous council within the same timeframe,” the union stated.

The Nyishi Ethnic Students’ of Arunachal (NESA) has also condemned the MARDC’s move.

In a release on Friday, NESA said, “The demand and subsequent creation of MAR, comprising Tawang and West Kameng districts, and the Patkai autonomous council, comprising Tirap, Longding and Changlang districts, will compel the Nyishi community for similar demands.”

The org added If the autonomous councils are created, the socioeconomic and overall development in the Nyishi-inhabited areas will be deprived. We too want to ensure that our culture, ethnicity and other rights are being preserved.”

The NESA accused the elected legislators of Tawang and West Kameng districts of “misguiding the issue and creating a divide among the people of the state.”

It stated that any such development should be inclusive and all communities of the state should be made part of the development process.

“The state government must act with caution in such sensitive matters and should not allow a fault line to be drawn on the basis of region or community, or else NESA might be compelled to organize a democratic movement similar to what we organized during granting of PRC to non-APST,” the NESA stated.