Two people were killed and several injured in protests over the Pema Khandu-led Arunchal Pradesh government’s proposal to grant permanent resident certificate (PRC) to six non-tribal communities. Widespread violence has been reported in Itanagar and a few other areas ever since the state government announced it was considering issuing PRC to six non-Arunachal Scheduled Tribes (APSTs) communities.
Defying the indefinite curfew that was imposed on Saturday, agitators set ablaze the private residence of Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and ransacked the office of the deputy commissioner in the capital on Sunday. Internet services have been suspended in Itanagar and Naharlagun.
Permanent resident certificate is a legal document issued to Indian citizens that serves as evidence of residence and is required to be submitted as residential proof for official purpose.
The BJP-led government in the state is considering issuing the certificate to the six non-APSTs communities living in Namsai and Changlang districts and to the Gorkhas living in Vijaynagar. Amongst those communities are Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Morans, Adivasis and Mishings. Most of these communities are recognised as Scheduled Tribes in neighbouring Assam.
A Joint High Power Committee (JHPC), after holding discussions with the stakeholders, recommended granting PRC to the six communities, who are not natives of Arunachal Pradesh but have been living in Namsai and Changlang districts for decades.
There is resentment among several community-based groups and organisations in Arunachal Pradesh, who feel the rights and interests of indigenous people will be compromised if the proposal is implemented.
The recommendation of JHPC was supposed to be tabled in the Assembly on Saturday. However, in the wake of agitations by various groups, it was not tabled as the Speaker adjourned the House sine die.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday had appealed to the people to maintain peace and calm.
Union Minister Kiren Rijiju clarified that the state government was not bringing the bill on PRC but only tabling a report of the Nabam Rebia-led JHPC, which comprises of members and student organisations. “It means the state government has not accepted it. In fact, Congress is fighting for PRC but instigating people wrongly,” he tweeted.
Rebia is a cabinet minister in the state government.