Another flashpoint – in Arunachal

Itanagar: After three days of protests, arson and vandalism, the Arunachal Pradesh government on Sunday scrapped the plan to give permanent resident status to 6 communities from outside the state. The announcement came after protestors torched the private house of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and the police fought a pitched battle with a mob bent on targeting Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s house in Itanagar.

The mob was protesting against the government’s proposal to grant permanent resident certificate to the tribes, which are not native to Arunachal Pradesh but have been living in Namsai and Changlang districts for decades. Union minister Kiren Rijiju has blamed the Congress party for “instigating” a section of people that led to violent protests in the state.

He alleged that the Congress has supported and “instigated” non-Arunachal Pradesh STs in Lekang area to fight for permanent residency. Amongst those communities are Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Morans, Adivasis and Mishings. Most of these communities are recognised as Scheduled Tribes in neighbouring Assam.

The protests had erupted on Friday after several community- based groups and students’ organisations pointed out that rights and interests of indigenous people will be compromised. The protesters were demanding the chief minister and his deputy’s resignation and had set a deadline of 5pm for them to step down.

Earlier, an indefinite curfew was clamped in Itanagar and Naharlagun on Saturday as protesters resorted to stone pelting in which 35 people, including 24 police personnel, were injured. Security forces had also resorted to blank firing as the unruly protesters defied curfew and marched towards Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s residence.

Four Army columns have been deployed in the Arunachal Pradesh capital while authorities have suspended Internet services across the state to avoid the spread of fake news via social media platforms.

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