ACF welcomes govt committee on Tawang church issue, questions local body election, and letter asking for taking away ST status of Christians

Staff Reporter

ITANAGAR, Nov 18: The Arunachal Christian Forum (ACF) on Wednesday welcomed the three-member committee constituted by the state government on 12 November, to resolve the controversial Tawang church issue.

The three-member committee is headed by Minister Environment and Forest Mama Natung, with Liromoba MLA Nyamar Karbak and Taliha MLA Nyato Dukam as members.

Addressing a press conference here at the Arunachal Press Club on Wednesday, ACF president Toko Teki asserted that the ACF would not resort to any dharna or peaceful protest till the report of the committee is submitted.

“We believe in the integrity of the committee and hope they will report impartially during their visit to Tawang. In case of an unsatisfactorily or biased report, we would discuss the future course of the movement.” Teki said, asserting that the ACF would fully cooperate with the committee and the government.

On 2 November, the ACF had staged a protest at the Indira Gandhi Park here, protesting against the Tawang district administration, claiming that the administration had denied land allotment for building a church in Tawang.

The ACF further expressed displeasure over the State Election Commission for announcing the panchayat and municipal elections during the festive season of Christmas.

“The ACF is not against any election, whether it be parliamentary, state assembly or panchayat elections. However, it is very unfortunate that the panchayat and municipal elections have been declared to be held during the time of Christmas, the holy month,” Teki stated.

“We appeal to the State Election Commission to reconsider the announcement as there are possibilities of violence during voting, which would disrupt the harmony of the festive season,” he added.

“If there is no legal bottleneck and constitutional issue, we appeal to the commission to defer the election. The commission should not hurt any religious sentiment in the future,” he added.

On the purported letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by

 the Indigenous Faith and Culture Society district units and the Madhya Pradesh-based organization Janjati Suraksha Manch, appealing for disqualification of any indigenous person that converts to Christian faith from availing scheduled tribe status, the ACF termed such an act “unwarranted and futile.”

“Such an act would only polarize and create confusion among the indigenous people,” the ACF said while citing examples of schedule tribe states like Nagaland and Mizoram, which are dominated by Christians.

“The ACF condemns such a move from the Janajati Suraksha Manch which propagates divisive policy in the state,” Teki said, adding: “No organization would be able to snatch the rights of the indigenous people.”