Protests in Arunachal Pradesh against a proposal to grant permanent resident certificates to six tribal communities escalated on Sunday after agitators torched the residence of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and also vandalised the office of the deputy commissioner of Itanagar.
The incident happened despite an indefinite curfew being clamped in Itanagar and Naharlagun after protesters resorted to stone pelting on Saturday, in which 35 people, including 24 police personnel, were injured.
#WATCH Permanent residence certificate row: Violence broke out in Itanagar during protests against state’s decision to grant permanent resident certificates to non-#ArunachalPradesh Scheduled Tribes of Namsai & Chanaglang; Deputy CM Chowna Mein’s private house also vandalised. pic.twitter.com/FrcmqWbL8c
— ANI (@ANI) February 24, 2019
The Ministry of Home Affairs said it was keeping a close watch on the situation even as Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Chief Minister Pema Khandu and the governor, ANI reported. Six companies of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) have been deployed in Itanagar to restore the law and order situation.
The protests escalated after a person who was injured in police firing on Friday succumbed to injuries at a hospital. On Sunday, people gathered in droves and damaged public property and vehicles, PTI quoted police officials as saying. In the violence, the private residence of the deputy CM at Niti Vihar was set on fire. However, Chowna Mein was not at his residence at that time.
Besides ransacking the deputy commissioner’s office, the protesters also set ablaze a large number of vehicles parked in the compound and also attacked the Itanagar Police station. Commuters too faced hurdles after the road leading to Naharlagun railway station was blocked by the agitators.
Internet services have been suspended in Itanagar and Naharlagun. With all markets, petrol pumps and shops closed and most of the ATMs running out of cash, normal life was thrown out of gear in the state capital.
The proposal of the Joint High Power Committee (JHPC) to grant permanent resident certificates (PRCs) to six communities, who are not natives of Arunachal Pradesh but have been living in Namsai and Changlang districts for decades, have evoked resentment among several community-based groups and students’ organisations.
They have claimed that the rights and interests of indigenous people would be compromised if the state government accepts them. The six communities are Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Morans, Adivasis, Mishings and Gorkhas. Most of these communities are recognised as Scheduled Tribes in neighbouring Assam.
The recommendation of the JHPC was supposed to be tabled in the Assembly on Saturday but was not tabled as the Speaker adjourned the House sine die. On Saturday, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh appealed to the people of Arunachal Pradesh to remain calm and maintain peace.