RANJU DODUM | 25 FEBRUARY, 2019
Situation remains volatile
ITANAGAR: An air of uncertainty continues to engulf the atmosphere here in the Arunachal Pradesh capital as public protests and government curfew entered the fifth day today. And internet services remain suspended.
Since February 21, protests over a Joint High Power Committee (JHPC) and its recommendations to grant permanent resident certificates (PRCs) to six communities not recognised as indigenous tribals to the state have continued and escalated greatly.
Apart from damages to government offices, infrastructure, and shopping centres, the ongoing protests have led to the deaths of three men, while several others have been injured resulting from the clashes with police and protestors.
Twenty-two-year old Risso Tari was fatally shot by security forces on Friday.
After much delay, Tari was buried at the Indira Gandhi Park on Sunday.
Two others, Biki Ruja and Tsering Wangdi, died from bullet wounds sustained during clashes that took place on Sunday near the chief minister’s private residence.
On Sunday morning, the deputy chief minister’s official bungalow was ransacked and torched by protestors.
Although no violence was reported today till around 8 PM, the atmosphere in Itanagar continued to be tense with people choosing to commute on foot as most vehicles stayed off the road. Businesses, too, continued too keep their shutters down.
Chief minister Pema Khandu today held a Cabinet meeting to assess the security situation in the capital.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, he said that the incident was unfortunate but that the law and order problem has continued despite the state government deciding to withdraw issuing PRCs to the communities in question.
“This has now taken on a different colour,” he said, adding that this is “no more a PRC issue, we have buried it”.
He said that there are “other forces behind the situation”, and that a commissioner-level inquiry will be charged with the investigation.
Khandu informed that the families of the deceased will be given Rs 20 lakh each and up to Rs 10 lakh to those grievously injured.
He also said the protests were “done in a very organised manner” and that the inquiry will reveal “the man” allegedly orchestrating the protests.
Khandu said that “the man” will be revealed once the inquiry is completed.
An all-party meeting was also called today but none of the political parties sent their representatives.
The Congress and National People’s Party had already told the media that they would only attend a meeting if called by the governor.
The Cabinet also met members of various tribal bodies and appealed to them to help bring peace.
The Arunachal Indigenous Tribes Forum, a congregation of top tribal bodies of the state, has also called for peace and high-level inquiry into the shootings.
While Khandu did not admit that there was an intelligence failure, he said that the security scenario of the state was never so vulnerable before that additional armed forces were needed.
Hoping to diffuse a possible reaction to the protests and violence in the capital from representatives of the six communities in question, the deputy chief is scheduled to hold meetings with them.
The Congress has written to the Union home minister, Rajnath Singh, to sack Khandu, deputy chief minister Chowna Mein, and Union minister of state for home affairs, Kiren Rijiju.
While the letter to Singh did not explicitly call for the imposition of President’s Rule in the state, it said that the state Cabinet has “lost the moral right to govern”.
It also said that an inquiry must be headed by a sitting High Court judge or a retired High Court chief justice.
Internet services remain suspended in Itanagar.