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Protesters Set Ablaze Arunachal Deputy CM's Residence, CM Khandu Calls All-party Meet

The agitation that broke out on Friday has left three dead and several injured in the state till now.

Biju Kumar Deka | News18

Updated:February 24, 2019, 7:48 PM IST
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Itanagar: The situation in Arunachal Pradesh remained tense on Sunday as a mob, protesting against the government's proposal to grant permanent resident certificate (PRC)s to six communities, set ablaze the private residence of deputy chief minister Chowna Mein.

The agitation that broke out on Friday has left three dead and several injured in the state till now.

Chief minister Pema Khandhu called for an all-party meeting in the wake of persistent violence in the state.

On Sunday afternoon, protesters thronged Mein’s house and set it afire. A vehicle has also been burnt at the residence. Meanwhile, violent clashes broke out between the protesters and Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel outside the official residence of chief minister Pema Khandu.

The agitation began on Friday after the Joint High Power Committee recommended that Schedule Tribe (ST) status be accorded to six communities who are not native to Arunachal Pradesh but have been living in Namsai and Changlang districts for decades.

The proposals evoked resentment among several community-based groups and students' organisations, who claimed that rights and interests of indigenous people will be compromised if the state government accepted them.

The protesters are demanding the chief minister and his deputy’s resignation and have set a deadline of 5pm for them to step down.

An indefinite curfew was clamped in Itanagar and Naharlagun on Saturday as protesters resorted to stone pelting in which 35 people, including 24 police personnel, were injured.

Arunachal
Army personnel stand guard as vehicles lay charred.

On Sunday, protesters defied the curfew and ransacked the office of the deputy commissioner and damaged public property and vehicles after a person succumbed to his injuries in police firing.

Considering the havoc caused by agitators, the deputy CM was moved out of the state capital and shifted to Namsai district. Internet services remained suspended in Itanagar and Naharlagun.

Protesters also torched and vandalised the residence of the district commissioner and set ablaze the house of environment and forest minister Nabam Rebia, who is also the chairman of the committee.

All markets, petrol pumps and shops were closed and most of the ATMs in the state capital were out of cash, police said. Over 60 vehicles, including many police vehicles, were set ablaze and over 150 vehicles were damaged by the protesters since Friday, they said.

On Friday, the police fired upon protesters when they were trying to enter the Civil Secretariat in Itanagar, leaving one civilian and a police officer of superintendent rank injured. However, the police have failed to check the situation so far.

On Saturday, the agitators damaged the stage of the Itanagar International Film Festival at the Indira Gandhi Park here. The organisers later called off the film festival.

In view of the intensity of violence that has disrupted the normalcy in the state, the centre has moved companies of Spear Corps of the Indian army to Itanagar on Saturday night in an attempt to contain the chaos and assist the civil administration to restore essential services.

Citing complete breakdown of law and order in the state, a Congress delegation met the governor on Saturday evening asking him to dissolve the government and announce President’s Rule in the state. The party has also resonated the protestors’ demand of the CM’s resignation.

However, Khandu has alleged that the PRC was actually introduced during its tenure and then Congress chief minister Takam Sanjay had himself submitted the recommendations of the committee and had agreed to grant the certificates.

The recommendation of the committee by the Khandu government was supposed to be tabled in the assembly on Saturday, but 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. He also spoke to Khandu, who briefed him about the prevailing situation in the border state.

| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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