Govt should be proactive, not reactive to people’s concerns

[ Bengia Ajum ]

Two particular events that unfolded in the last one month in the state capital do not augur well for the future of the state. The first was the public bandh following the state government’s failure to address the 13 demands placed by the ANSU and the Pan Arunachal Joint Steering Committee (PAJSC) in regards to the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission’s question paper leakage case. The whole Itanagar Capital Region (ICR) was on the edge for two days, on 17 and 18 February, as the violence threatened to escalate anytime.

The protestors, angry over the decision of the government to go ahead with the swearing-in of new chairman and members of the APPSC and seeking the government’s attention towards the demands, shut down the entire ICR for the two days. There was a tense standoff on 18 February outside the civil secretariat between protestors and police, even as discussion was going on between representatives of the public, the PAJSC, the ANSU and the state government over the 13 points, in the office of the chief minister.

The situation was so tense that everyone feared that the ICR would witness another riot like the 2019 anti-PRC riot which had rocked the state capital. The government buckled under the intense pressure and agreed to fulfil all the demands.

The second incident was when former APPSC undersecretary Tumi Gangkak was found dead under mysterious circumstances near the Ganga Lake area, along the Jote-Poma road. His body was found hanging, with his wrists and Achilles tendons of both legs slit. Angry with his mysterious death, a group of protesters surrounded the APPSC office and demanded that the state government fulfil certain points placed by them. In this case also, the government had to buckle under the pressure, and agreed to the demands of the protestors. The situation was extremely tense and volatile in both cases. The two incidents have definitely dented the image of the Chief Minister Pema Khandu-led BJP government in the state. Everyone had thought that the government and its agencies had learnt a hard lesson from the anti-PRC riots, when they were caught off guard, but the APPSC scam gave them a rude shock.

An impression is being created among the masses that, until and unless one resorts to violence, the government does not listen to their grievances. The government also failed to properly communicate with the public regarding the action initiated by it in regards to the 13 demands. Later, it emerged that barring a few, the majority of the demands were already met by the government.

This impression that the government listens only when citizens hit the streets needs to change. Also, every time the state witnesses tension over certain issues, the ICR bears the brunt of it. It is a sad sight to see public properties being damaged. People do not hesitate to cause destruction of public properties in the ICR. A sense of belongingness or love for the ICR is missing, which is really unfortunate. Everybody wants to make their respective careers in the ICR, but no one seems to care for the development of the state. This constant attempt to take state capital to ransom is uncalled for. If the ICR has to emerge as a modern cosmopolitan city, this hooligan culture has to end. There are better ways to protest democratically. Also, the state government should be proactive in addressing the grievances of the public and should end the culture of responding only when the situation turns volatile.