For three days, from Friday to Sunday, Arunachal Pradesh witnessed massive violence over the Joint High-Power Committee (JHPC) recommendation granting permanent resident certificates (PRC) to six communities who are not natives of the state but have been living in Namsai and Changlang districts for decades.
The six communities are- Sonowal, Deoris, Kacharis, Morans, Adivasis and Mishings.
Reason for protest:
The Prema Khandu-led government’s proposals granting PRC to the six communities has evoked resentment among several native community-based groups and students' organisations, who claimed that the rights and the interests of indigenous people will be compromised if the state government implements it.
The local agitators have been demanding a permanent withdrawal to the PRC. The protestors have demanded immediate resignation of the chief minister, unconditional release of protesters (numbering around 40) and immediate transfer of the chief secretary, among others.
Scale of protest:
On Sunday, two people were killed and three injured when protesters tried to attack the private residence of Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu at the ESS sector in the afternoon.
Khandu had called an all-party meeting on Sunday to take stock of the situation and decide on the future course of action, but none of the parties, including the opposition Congress, NPP and the PPA, turned up.
Sources in the chief minister's office said the meeting has been rescheduled on Monday.
Protesters on Sunday set ablaze the private residence of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and ransacked the office of the deputy commissioner.
An indefinite curfew was clamped in Itanagar and Naharlagun on Saturday and internet services suspended as protesters resorted to stone pelting in which 35 people, including 24 police personnel, were injured.
The Army had also conducted flag marches in Itanagar and Naharlagun on Saturday.
Over 150 vehicles have been damaged by the protesters since Friday, they said.
On Saturday, the agitators damaged the stage of the Itanagar International Film Festival at the Indira Gandhi Park which resulted in the cancellation of the entire event.
Government bows to pressure:
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Secretary Satya Gopal issued a statement on Sunday, saying: "Considering the present situation pertaining to grant of PRCs to non-APST (Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes) of Namsai and Changlang districts, the state government has decided that no further action will be taken in grant of PRCs."
On Monday, Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu said, “On the night of 22 February, I had clarified through media and social media that govt won't hold further discussions over this. Today also, an order has been issued via Chief Secy that we won't take up PRC matter. I would like to assure the people in Arunachal Pradesh that govt will not take up the matter even in future. This is a clear message.”
On Monday, there was no report of any violence from anywhere in Arunachal Pradesh even as the indefinite curfew imposed in Itanagar and Naharlagun and the suspension of internet services remained in force, police said.
There was no report of violence from anywhere in the state on Monday but shops and market establishments in Itanagar and Naharlagun were closed, police said, adding that central paramilitary forces sent to help the state administration in maintaining law and order have reached Itanagar.
Who said what:
Arunachal Pradesh State Govt has already passed an order not to accept PRC as recommended by JHPC. Everyone must come together without blaming each other for the sake of peace. It's very unfortunate that innocent lives were lost in the violence.— Kiren Rijiju (@KirenRijiju) February 24, 2019
For the peace & tranquility of our state, Government has already dropped the PRC matter of Namsai & Changlang districts.— Pema Khandu (@PemaKhanduBJP) February 24, 2019
Home Minister Rajnath Singh also spoke to Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu, who briefed him about the prevailing situation in the border state.
"HM Shri @rajnathsingh spoke to the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Shri @PemaKhanduBJP over the phone and discussed the prevailing situation and ongoing protest in certain parts of the state," the Home Ministry tweeted.
"HM has urged the people to remain calm and maintain peace in the state," the tweet added.