Sromona Bhattacharyya Bhattacharyya
Hailing from Kolkata and now a resident of Bengaluru, Sromona is a multimedia journalist who has a knack for digging stories that truly deserve attention.
Situations took a turn for the worse on Sunday, February 24, as two persons were killed and three others were left injured during police firing at protests over recommendations of granting Permanent Resident Certificates (PRC) to six communities.
The northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh witnessed massive protests since Friday, February 22 over the Joint High Power Committee (JHPC) recommendation which grants permanent residence certificates (PRC) to six communities. The communities– Adivasi, Deori, Gorkha, Mishing, Moran, and Sonowal Kachari – are not native to the state but have been living in Namsai and Changlang districts of the state for decades. While no incidents of violence occurred on Monday, February 25, internet services remained suspended in Itanagar and Naharlagun.
Defying the curfew which was imposed on Friday, the protestors have allegedly set residence of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein ablaze and vandalised it. A large number of protestors marched through the streets, vandalising public property and vehicles. According to The Indian Express, media personnel were threatened and offices of powerful student organisations like All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) were also set ablaze.
#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 first International Film Festival which was held at Itanagar also faced the fury of the protestors as the mob set ablaze several cars which were parked outside the venue, reported News18. The festival was later called off and several filmmakers and musicians had to be evacuated to safety. The Army had also conducted flag marches in Itanagar and Naharlagun on Saturday. The protestors had even set a deadline at 5 p.m on Sunday for Khandu, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and Chief Secretary Satya Gopal to resign for “betraying the indigenous communities,” reported The Hindu.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on the same day said that the government has decided to not accept the recommendations of the Joint High Power Committee (JHPC) and even blamed Congress for instigating sections of people for the protests. According to NDTV, Khandu had even called for an all-party meet on Sunday which was reportedly scheduled for the next day as none of the parties including the opposition had turned up. The recommendations were supposed to be tabled in the Assembly on February 23 but were not tabled as the Speaker adjourned the house sine die.
These communities have for a long time to get PCR which is a document of a persons’ residence in a state. It is useful in getting reservation against quotas for state residents in educational institutes and jobs. Arunjyoti Moran, president of All Moran Students’ Union (AMSU) told The Indian Express, “The PRC is a genuine, legitimate demand of the communities including Morans living in Arunachal Pradesh — they genuinely belong to the state. We are not even demanding ST status, but only PRC. Even the government is not able to do it now they have to consider our demand later.” While the government tried to douse the flames by not tabling the recommendations in the Assembly, continued protests in the capital perplexed many. Reportedly, the recommendations infuriated several community-based groups and students’ organisations who claimed that if the state government accepts the recommendations, then the rights and interests of the indigenous communities will be undermined.
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