VIOLENCE BROKE out Friday in Arunachal Pradesh’s Vijaynagar, the remote easternmost inhabited area of the country, over issuance of rights to retired Gorkha soldiers settled there since 1960s to contest the panchayat elections.
Changlang DC Devansh Yadav told The Indian Express that government buildings in Vijaynagar were ransacked and vandalised. “The Extra Assistant Commissioner’s (EAC) office and a post-office were set on fire. The mob was around 500-odd strong,” he said. Local reports said the mob was armed with daggers and sticks.
Yadav said investigations were on to identify those who indulged in the violence through audio and video clippings.
In the 1960s, the families of over 200 retired Assam Rifles personnel from the Gorkha community were settled in Vijaynagar by the Centre. The Gorkhas and indigenous people belonging to the Yobin tribe comprise the majority of residents here.
According to officials, the Friday’s violence stemmed from a persistent demand to prohibit participation of non-tribal and non-indigenous people in the panchayat and municipal elections. Following the protests, the State Election Commission deferred the polls in Vijaynagar, scheduled to be held on December 22 across the state.
The government order mentioned that student organisations had deputed their members to “prevent filing of nomination by any non-tribal”.
Yusihay Yobin, joint secretary of the Yobin Welfare Society, the apex body of the community, told The Indian Express that the Yobin Students’ Union was instrumental in Friday’s protest.
“The underlying cause of the protest was that despite continuous demand by the Students’ Union and other pressure groups that non-tribals and non-indigenous people should not be allowed to participate in panchayat elections, no specific step has been taken by the government – there has been an assurance but nothing concrete,” Yobin said.