Arunachal Pradesh PRC row: Four killed in violent protests, tussle between BJP, Congress continues

A total of four deaths have been reported in violence in Arunachal Pradesh three days after protests erupted over the issue of granting PRCs to six communities.

Syeda Ambia Zahan February 25, 2019 21:19:02 IST
Arunachal Pradesh PRC row: Four killed in violent protests, tussle between BJP, Congress continues
  • Four deaths have been reported in Arunachal Pradesh as protests continued over the PRC issue.

  • Pema Khandu on Monday met leaders of 17 community-based organisations of the state.

  • A curfew is still in place at Itanagar and some parts of Naharlagun.

  • The army has conducted flag marches in sensitive areas, especially in Namsai and Changleng.

A total of four deaths have been reported in violence in Arunachal Pradesh as protests continued against the government’s move to grant Permanent Residence Certificates (PRC) to six non-indigenous communities in Arunachal Pradesh.

Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu on Monday met leaders of 17 community-based organisations of Arunachal Pradesh. He had also called an all-party meeting in Itanagar to discuss the situation. However, the meet was cancelled after the Congress and National People’s Party refused to attend it.

Asserting that the government does not intend to introduce a bill for granting PRCs to the six non-indigenous communities, Khandu said, “I made the government's stand clear on 22 February. We are not taking the PRC matter forward, and want to reassure that we will not take up the issue of giving PRCs to non-APST (non- Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribe) communities in future. Still, some incidents have taken place, in which some boys lost their lives and some others were injured. I am deeply saddened by this and once the situation is normalised, I will visit the families personally.”

Arunachal Pradesh PRC row Four killed in violent protests tussle between BJP Congress continues

Violence in Arunachal Pradesh. News18

A curfew is still in place at Itanagar and some parts of Naharlagun, where protests erupted on Friday night. So far, over 150 vehicles and several houses have been burnt down, most of which belong to non-APSTs. Protesters also set ablaze the house of deputy chief minister Chowna Mein and vandalised government offices, including the Deputy Commissioner's office and Itanagar Police Station.

The army has conducted flag marches in sensitive areas, especially in Namsai and Changleng districts and Vijayanagar, where non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes and Gorkhas reside. These six communities are Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Moran, Adivasis and Mishing. Among these, Sonowal Kacharis and Mishing have been granted ST status in Assam.

However, on Monday, incidents of violence continued to be reported from the capital, although 1,000 paramilitary troops have been sent to the state to bring the situation under control. Angry protesters were seen vandalising shops and shopping malls in Itanagar.

“Arunachal  Pradesh is a peaceful state, especially the capital. We feel that the message the government wants to send to the people has not reached them properly through media or social media. Security forces have been deployed to maintain peace and tranquility,” said Tapir Gao, BJP president of Arunachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, the Assam Police has issued a helpline number to assist people from Assam who are stranded in Arunachal Pradesh. The numbers are: 8749860803 (mobile) and 0361-2381511 (landline). People from Assam have been fleeing to border areas to avoid clashes with the protesters.

On Monday, Takam Sanjay, the president of Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee and former Congress chief minister Nabam Tuki have sent a letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh urging serious attention on the part of the central government.

“The situation warrants that the government takes a serious view on these developments. The state government has completely failed and remains a mute spectator to the unfolding events over the past two days. Further complacency and lack of action would not only jeopardise the socio-cultural fabric of the state but also have serious strategic ramifications."

Slamming Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, the letter stated, “It is a matter of shame that your deputy, Union Minister for Home Affairs Shri Kiren Rijiju, who represents the Arunachal West parliamentary constituency, has been indifferent to the sensitivities of the people, the deaths and the ongoing unrest. Instead, he has been indulging in politicising the issue, discarding blatantly his constitutional obligations to safeguard the interest and safety of his people.”

Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, in a tweet, had criticised the Congress for instigating the protesters.

Rijiju on Monday further said, “At this time, rather than politicising the issue, we all should work with the government. We are very sorry for the incidents that took place in Arunachal Pradesh. I have been in touch with the governor and the chief minister, and have taken stock of the situation. The Centre has assured that it will do the needful to bring normalcy in the state.”

Meanwhile, internet services have again been shut down in the state. On Sunday, the internet services had been functional for a few hours during the day.

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