Vijaynagar violence: Shooting two birds with one stone?

[ Amar Sangno ]

ITANAGAR, 14 Dec: Last Friday’s violence in Vijaynagar in Changlang district, allegedly orchestrated by the All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU), not only shocked the entire state but also deeply shook the decades-old peace and congenial atmosphere in the remotest circle of Changlang district. Vijaynagar is often referred to as a ‘prisoner of geography’.

Sources in the intelligence branch informed The Arunachal Times that the Centre has taken strong exception to the nature of the violence as it has reportedly invited unnecessary attention from across the border.

A mob had torched the Special Bureau (RAW) office, the post office and the EAC office, and ransacked the police station. The sources also said that the burning down of the RAW office has “painted a whole new narrative for the intelligence agencies, from the security point of view.” The agencies are reportedly being compelled to explore the possibility of the involvement of external forces in what they termed “coordinated and well-thought-out” violence.

The sources also said that the intelligence and security forces are investigating whether the demand for the exclusion of the ex-Assam Rifles settlers from the panchayati raj electoral list was just a cover-up with a bigger, hidden motive behind it.

The intelligence sources justified their claims by citing a Facebook post of AYSU president Ngwazosa Yobin, urging the government to remove the Special Bureau and the Special Intelligence Bureau offices from Vijaynagar circle and instead post permanent headmasters and teachers in the schools there.

It is said that never in the nation’s history has a RAW office been targeted and set ablaze by citizens of the country. All classified documents pertaining to the region have reportedly been reduced to ashes.

Police sources informed that on 8 December, during a meeting with the district administration in Miao, the Yobin Welfare Society had taken the police and the administration into confidence and assured that peace and tranquillity would be maintained in Vijaynagar. However, the AYSU and some youths had a meeting on 10 December and decided to hold a peaceful rally, which turned riotous. However, no official communication about a peaceful rally was conveyed to the district administration.

The sources further informed that the mob – mostly teenage students and women – led by the AYSU set off marching at around 4 am from Gandhigram village (20 kms from Vijaynagar) and reached Vijaynagar at around 8:30 am.

The mob allegedly carried out a synchronized attack on all government establishments, including the RAW office, the post office and the EAC office.

“It can be viewed from the intelligence point of view that why the post office and EAC office were burned down because most of the pensioner documents were in the post office and all circle-related official documents were in the EAC office, including the census records and influx data,” said a police officer who did not wish to be named.

Terming it a well-planned arson with ulterior motives, he opined that the RAW office might have been targeted because it has all classified documents on border areas’ activities, ranging from illegal immigrants and border security to intelligence reports.

It is said that nearly seven lakh Lisu (Yobin) live in Lijiang, Baoshan, Nujiang, Diqing and Dehong prefectures in Yunnan province and Sichuan province of China, and nearly six lakhs more in Myanmar.

Representatives of the Yobin community stated that they did not endorse or encourage the violence which took place on Friday. They, however, stated that it was “a spontaneous act out of frustration against the state government over decades-long deprivation on many fronts.”

The AYSU has been demanding removal of the panchayati raj rights extended to the ex-AR settlers in Vijaynagar, and shifting of the settlers out of Vijaynagar.