By Tenzin Sangmo
Takar Complex on fire. Photo by Yeshi Dhondup
DHARAMSHALA, Feb. 26: The violence and arson in Itanagar capital complex that culminated on Sunday have resulted in more than a dozen Tibetan shops razed in the fire set by the protestors after the police shooting against the attack on the private residence of the CM Pema Khandu.
Apart from the damage to the private property, the private residence of the deputy chief minister and the office of a deputy commissioner have been burnt, say reports.
The violent protest was sparked last Thursday over a Joint High-Powered Committee (JHPC) recommendation, in the run-up to assembly elections in April-May, to grant permanent residency certificates (PRC) to six tribes living in the Namsai and Changlang districts and to the Gorkhas living in Vijaynagar.
The JHPC, formed in May 2018 was constituted under the chairmanship of Environment and Forests Minister, Nabam Rebia, who happened to be the owner of the 4-storeyed Takar complex that houses Tibetan shops.
APST communities who have been given PRC status because they are considered the original natives of the state said that allowing residency to other communities will lead to many non-tribal entering the state.
According to Hindustan Times
, a spokesperson reportedly said, “Giving other communities PRC will dilute the Bengal Eastern Frontier (Regulation) Act 1873, which says that all non-residents and visitors to Arunachal Pradesh must get a permit to travel to the state and stay there.”
Eighteen organizations called for a 24-hour shutdown last week to protest against the submission of the committee’s report in the state assembly on Saturday. The recommendation wasn't tabled as the speaker adjourned the house without issuing a resumption date.
There was no violence reported on Monday.
Most of the Tibetan shopkeepers whose shops were set on fire are originally from Bomdila, Tenzingang, Dekyiling and Hunsur Tibetan settlements, said Yeshi Dhondup, a former member of Special Frontier Force (SFF), now engaged in clothing business since 2001.
Dhondup, who had also served as a security guard at the His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s residence from 1994-97 said this over the phone, “The degree of damage couldn't be taken into account properly at the moment and it was hard for us not to cry as the merchandises constitute all our earnings.”
The group has been spoken to by Mr Wangdu Tsering, the additional secretary of the home department of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), who consoled and assured support from the administration.
The Tibetan refugees in the state had caught the attention of State’s students’ union in the past for a similar grievance felt by the indigenous tribes.
In July 2018, the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) and NEFA Indigenous Human Rights Organization (NIHRO) and other organizations had called for revoking of the state government’s decision to adopt the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy Act, saying it may put to stake the standing regulation like the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act of 1873.
The policy states that Tibetans may be allowed to undertake any economic activity and to that extent, relevant papers/trade license/permit may be issued to them and also permitted to take jobs in any field for which they are professionally qualified.
However, AAPSU has denied any roles in the PRC issue-related violence. A senior AAPSU leader reportedly told Indian Express, "We are not behind this violence. Our offices are being burnt down and there is a possibility of an attack on our residences. This seems to be politically backed."
In a cabinet meeting held yesterday and chaired by the Chief Minister Pema Khandu, it was decided to set up an inquiry committee to probe the violence over the PRC issue and another committee to assess the losses and damages caused to government and private property.