RANJU DODUM | 27 FEBRUARY, 2019
Two more shot by security forces near CM Khandu’s home
ITANAGAR: As the Arunachal Pradesh capital slowly began its journey to normalcy following days of violent protests, the state home minister said that he was unaware of additional security forces being deployed in Itanagar.
The state was gripped with violence from February 21 over the recommendations of a Joint High Power Committee (JHPC) that permanent resident certificates (PRCs) should be issued, under certain conditions, to six communities not recognised as indigenous tribals to the state.
Anger and fears were fuelled by the perception that the JHPC’s recommendations were to become law when its report was listed in the Assembly for discussion on February 22.
However, violent protests the day before led Chief Minister Pema Khandu to tweet that the JHPC’s report would not be tabled for discussion. But protests continued and the deputy chief minister’s official bungalow was torched by a large group of people.
Mobile data services had already been disabled by the government in hopes of curbing the mobilisation of crowds.
On February 24, as the deputy chief minister’s residence was being ransacked, the state government lifted the internet ban as officials sent out a circular stating that PRCs would not be issued to the communities in question.
The move was seen as being too little too late, as one man had already died days earlier, and people began to march towards CM Khandu’s private home.
Firing by security forces near his residence resulted in several people getting injured, and the deaths of two more men.
The chief minister yesterday held parleys with tribal community organisations, youth bodies, and other civil society organisations to defuse the situation. By yesterday the situation in the capital had eased up but an air of uncertainty remained.
Today, most businesses still remained closed but residents began limping to normalcy.
With the death of three men, the BJP government here has faced much criticism for excesses by security forces. While the chief minister has said that an inquiry will be held, the state home minister has distanced himself from the decision to call in additional forces.
Arunachal Pradesh Home Minister Kumar Waii today spoke to journalists, stating that he had not ordered the shooting by security forces on the protestors.
A statement from Waii said he was “unaware of additional requisition demanded”.
Waii called for peace and said efforts are being made to restore telecom and internet services in the capital.
Apart from meeting with community organisations, the chief minister yesterday also met with the state Cabinet to discuss the security situation.
Home Minister Waii was conspicuously absent from that Cabinet meeting.
Shockingly, he told the press today that he hadn’t been informed about yesterday’s Cabinet meeting called by CM Khandu.
He said it was he who had suggested that a Cabinet meeting should be held. However, he said he was out of town yesterday, and refused to blame CM Khandu or anyone else for not informed him about the meeting.