2 killed in Itanagar violence over residency certificates; govt says will scrap move
Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Puma Khandu said on Monday his government will “never take up” the issue of permanent resident certificates (PRC) after two people were killed in firing by security forces and three others injured in widespread violence in capital Itanagar on Sunday over protests against granting residency to six non-native communities.
“On the night of February 22, I had clarified through media and social media that the government will not hold further discussions over this. Today, an order has been issued via the chief secretary that we won’t take up PRC matter,” Khandu said, according to news agency ANI.
“I would like to assure the people in Arunachal Pradesh that the government will not take up the matter even in future. This is a clear message,” he said.
Khandu also appealed to the people to maintain peace and help in restoring normal life in the state capital. The chief minister said he has given orders that a detailed investigation “is essential.”
“The government’s stand over PRC is clear, in spite of that there were incidents of violence. I have formed a commissioner level investigating committee. It is necessary for the truth to come before the public,” ANI quoted Pema as saying.
“We feel that there is somebody’s hands behind these incidents. Arunachal Pradesh is otherwise a peaceful state,” he said.
Chief minister Khandu also said an ex-gratia has been announced for those killed in the protests and that a meeting of all community-based organisations and parties will be held on Monday to discuss the PRC matter.
“Thousands of people attacked chief minister Pema Khandu’s residence. While the police tried to exercise restraint, the protesters tried to break the barricades,” state minister and government spokesperson Bamang Felix said.
“In the unfortunate incident, two protesters lost their lives while three others were injured. Several police personnel have also suffered injuries as protesters attacked them with stones,” Felix said.
On Sunday, hundreds of protesters defied a curfew and burnt a section of Arunachal Pradesh deputy chief minister Chowna Mein’s private residence in Itanagar besides damaging many other vehicles and buildings. One protester was killed in firing on Friday during the second day of a 48-hour shutdown. More than a hundred vehicles were torched or damaged and many including policemen were injured in stone pelting and violence.
The protests forced the state government to drop a discussion on the panel report in the state assembly. The assembly was adjourned sine die on Saturday and curfew imposed in Itanagar.
The army, which was also brought in on Saturday, conducted flag marches in the state capital. But despite the curfew and heavy deployment of troops, protesters came out on Sunday and continued the violence.
Protesters also damaged two police stations in Itanagar and Naharlagun, ransacked the office of the deputy commissioner of Itanagar and burned a commercial building in Naharlagun owned by forest and environment minister Nabam Rebi.
Rebia was chairman of the government panel which advocated giving PRC to six non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribe (APST) communities, who are not natives of the state, but have been residing in Changlang and Namsai districts for decades.
There is anger among the state’s indigenous communities who feel the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government in the northeastern state is indulging in vote bank politics.
(With inputs from Sadiq Naqvi)