Why is Arunachal Pradesh burning?
Arunachal Pradesh has been on the boil since last Thursday last over recommendation of a committee to grant permanent residency certificates (PRC) to six communities that are not part of the Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes list at the moment — a categorisation that provides various domicile-linked welfare and reservation benefits. Three persons have died and public property has been damaged over the last five days. Here is all you need to know about why ethnic groups in the state are angry.
What is PRC?
It is a permanent residency certificate that provides domicile to a person in the state and helps in availing domicile-
linked quotas for admission to educational institutions and in government jobs.
Who gets PRC in Arunachal Pradesh?
Communities listed as Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes (APST) have been given PRC status because they
are considered the original natives of the state. Several other communities have been demanding the status to get domicile-linked benefits. These non-APST communities say that while their names are on land records, they do not get “pattas” (ownership documents).
What is the main bone of contention?
The non-APST communities have a sizeable population in neighbouring Assam and enjoy domicile-linked rights in that state. Many of these communities are recognised as STs in Assam, while Morans and Adivasis come under the Other Backward Classes category in Assam. They say that they should have the same rights in Arunachal Pradesh; the APST communities are opposed to this.
Why do APST communities not want other communities to get PRC?
APST communities say that giving other communities PRC will dilute the Bengal Eastern Frontier (Regulation) Act 1873, which says that all non-residents and visitors to Arunachal Pradesh must get a permit to travel to the state and stay there.The APST communities say that allowing residency to other communities will lead to many non-tribals entering the state. In 2018, the Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state announced it would grant of PRC to six communities — Deoris, Sonowals, Kacharis, Mishings, Adivasis and Morans. The announcement by the party came even before a joint high-powered committee submitted its report on the issue.
Eighteen organisations called for a 24-hour shutdown in Arunachal Pradesh to protest against the submission of the committee’s report in the state assembly. This led to violence and arson on the streets of Itanagar.
On February 22, chief minister Pema Khandu announced that the report would not be tabled in the current session.
What happened on February 21-22?
Eighteen organisations called for a 24-hour shutdown in Arunachal Pradesh to protest against the submission of government wanted to keep the issue alive in the run up to the assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh, which are due along with the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Why has it become a political fight?
Some APST communities feel the BJP-led government is pursuing the issue for political ends at the cost of “locals”. Some bodies have supported giving PRC to non-tribals living in the state for a long time, with a caveat that it will only be used for educational and employment purposes. Congress and BJP leaders both say that the demand for PRCs is genuine, but they blame each other for the tensions.
Has the matter ended?
Over the last four days, three people have died, the private residence of the deputy chief minister and the office of a deputy commissioner have been burnt. The chief minister’s home was attacked. On Sunday night, Khandu announced that PRC will never be taken up in the state. No incidents of violence were reported on Monday, but the situation remains tense.