Arunachal tribe branded Maoists to check anti-dam protests
The local administration in Arunachal Pradesh’s Lower Dibang Valley district has allegedly branded members of the Idu Mishi tribe as Maoists in a bid to stop their opposition to a mega dam project. The branding was reportedly behind the police firing on Durga Puja revelers on October 5 that left nine students seriously injured.
According to anti-dam activists, the Maoist tag has given the license to the police and CRPF personnel to strike at will. "The unprovoked firing inside a Durga Puja pandal isn’t just a slight on religious sentiment but also a terror tactic toward muffling voices against the 3000MW Dibang Multipurpuse Project," anti-dam activist Bamang Tago told HT from state capital Itanagar on Sunday.
The Dibang Project, proposed on river Dibang, is being pursued by the National Hydro Power Corporation. The public hearing for this project is scheduled at Roing, 550 km northeast of Itanagar, on October 24.
Anti-dam activists said local people were being labeled Maoists and linked to underground organizations to sabotage their movement against the massive hydropower project that "will bring ecological disaster". They accused deputy commissioner Garima Gupta and superintendent of police Veenu Bansal of working on behalf of the dam lobby to get the public hearing done at any cost.
Gupta and Bansal had a few days ago issued a statement saying: "Ulfa and Maoists are establishing links with local people to oppose power projects proposed in Dibang Valley." Their assertion followed the arrest of nine alleged Maoists from adjoining Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh on September 22.
"This (Ulfa and Maoist connection) has been planted to mobilize additional troops for forceful conduct of the public hearing," said Roing Zill Parishad chairman Chiliko Meto, accusing the DC and SP of keeping public representatives in the dark on security matters.
The All Idu Mishmi Students Union (AIMSU) and other organizations, while lodging an FIR against Roing magistrate Mirpi Tato for the October 5 firing in the Durga Puja pandal, have written to Arunachal Pradesh home minister Takar Marde resenting the Maoist slur on the peace-loving Mishmi tribe.
"Apart from cancellation of the public hearing on the Dibang power project, we have sought action against the DC and SP for misusing their administrative power in a religious function," said AIMSU president Malo Linggi.