The scourge of bandh culture

Monday Musing

[ Bengia Ajum ]

The three days bandh call which initially started in ICR and later spread to some other districts of the state has ended peacefully much to the relief of everyone. The Nari Shakti, Pro Dam movement of Arunachal along with activists Sol Dodum and Tana Tamar imposed 72 hours capital bandh from 10 to 12 May demanding the government to fulfil 13-point charter of demands over APPSC paper leakage issue. Everyone was deeply worried fearing that violence may erupt anytime. But much to the credit of state police, respective district administration and people of state in particular, the bandh went off peacefully.

With internet shutdown and business remaining closed, the state economy suffered massively during the 3 days bandh. A large chunk of the population in the ICR depends on day to day business for survival. Today, the majority of people in the country including our neighbour Assam, which was once infamous for frequent bandh have given up this method of protest. Also, bandh is considered the last resort to fight for justice. From my own experience of covering various sensitive issues since 2009, the year when I joined this daily as a young reporter, I have seen that bandh calls do help to build pressure during the initial days but ultimately its power fades away if one misuses it. After a time, a large section of the population turned against it due to harassment caused by bandh. Often the public gets caught in between bandh callers and police. The heavy handedness of police and rowdy behavior of section of bandh callers makes life miserable for the public. In this case, the PAJSC along with ANSU had successfully nailed the government on a 13 point charter of demands. Further, aided by firebrand activist Sol Dodum, Nari Shakti members and few others, the pressure was successfully built on the government to take action on 13-point demand. It could have been sustained without resorting to a 3 days bandh call.

Also, during the bandh some women in the name of Nari Shakti (Women empowerment) can be heard abusing people on camera. We do not need such abusive women to represent our tribal women. Infact, they demean tribal women who generally are feisty but also classy at the same time.

Further, this present trend of declaring anyone who disagrees with the point of view of the so-called crusader against APPSC paper leakage scam as corrupt and part of the paper seller should end. In a democracy, healthy debates and discussion should take place. People have the right to differ while being respectful of each other.

The bandh is over and reality is starting to dawn on the bandh callers. Altogether, 41 of them have been arrested and booked under the draconian Arunachal Pradesh Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 2014, for imposing bandh call in various districts. Many are still on the run.

It is going to be a lengthy legal battle for these 41 people and many have to stay behind bars for a long time. The state government should extend some consideration to the aspirants who have been booked under this act. They have a long future ahead of time. The youths sometimes get carried away by emotions and tend to commit mistakes. But the government being the guardian should exhibit some consideration.

Also, all those people who were egging these bandh callers and youths to go for bandh call should now come forward and extend support to them financially and emotionally. Those people were the ones who were busy giving ‘go ahead,’ ‘we are with you’ messages on social media. Legal battle is going to be a costly affair. Some of them might end up fighting legal battles throughout their life.