Arunachal minister’s house torched, Christians appeal for peace

By Matters India Reporter

Itanagar, Feb. 24, 2019: A Christian body in Arunachal Pradesh on February 24 appealed for peace after a mob set fire to the house of the deputy chief minister of the northeastern Indian state.

“We pray for our state of Arunachal Pradesh still reeling with pain and sorrow as properties are destroyed and innocent people are suffering,” the Arunachal Christian Forum prayed as violence broke out in the state capital of Itanagar for the third straight day over the government’s decision to give permanent resident status to two tribes from outside the state.

The house of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein was targeted after the police checked the mobs’ way to the residence of Chief Minister Pema Khandu. Police resorted to blank firing at the protesters.

One person is reportedly killed over a hundred injured in stone pelting. Nearly 50 vehicles is said to have been burnt.

Army has been called in to contain the law and order situation.

“The situation is very tense and uncontrollable. The state is taking all steps to calm the situation,” Home Minister Kumar Waii told reporters.

The violence started on February 22 during a 48-hour shutdown by students in protest against the Khandu government’s decision to table a report in the state assembly on the Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC). The police had opened fire as protesters threw stones at government vehicles and offices.

A man who tried to enter the civil secretariat died in the firing, another suffered a bullet injury in his leg. Several security personnel and protesters were also injured in clashes that broke out in Naharlagun.

Violence erupted also in the Valley town, 15 km down to Banderdewa check gate. PRC to refugees is feared to benefit a large number of Illegal migrants along with Chakma- Hajongs migrated during Bangladesh Liberation War.

A pitched battle started outside the private residence of the chief minister when a mob trying to target it was confronted by the security forces. The police opened fire, and unconfirmed reports say many people have been injured. In the afternoon, an agitated mob stormed the private residence of Chowna Mein, ransacked it and set it on fire. They also torched a large number of vehicles parked in the compound of his office.

Curfew is in place at Itanagar and adjoining areas. Six companies of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police were also brought in to restore law and order.

The government plans to give permanent residential certificates to Namsai and Changlang tribes. Although on the list of Scheduled Tribes, they do not belong to the state.

The protesters contend that the committee — headed by Environment and Forest Minister Nabam Rebia – submitted its report without verifying the facts properly, and it should be rectified before being tabled in the assembly.

The government, in view of the situation, had taken a rain check on presenting the report in the assembly.

The Christian forum regretted that the people of Arunachal Pradesh have become victims of violence. “Many are injured and several are fatally wounded,” it noted.

The ecumenical body prayed for people to reign in their land, and in people’s hearts and homes. “Let reason prevail among our brothers and sisters. God of peace come down upon us and watch over us. Let your wisdom govern our leaders and people,” it said.

The forum urged people to resolve their problems through dialogue and discussion. “Let violence be shunned by everyone and preciousness of life be upheld,” it prayed.

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