Dalai Lama visit, Chakma-Hajong refugee issues kept Arunachal Pradesh in the news in 2017

PTI | Published: 02nd January 2018 11:11 AM
Parts of Arunachal Pradesh witnessed protests following the Central government’s decision to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajong tribes. Fires lit by protesters smolder on a street in Itanagar | Express

ITANAGAR: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's visit and China's protest, the Chakma-Hajong refugee issue, boundary dispute with neighbouring Assam and IAF chopper crash were some issues that kept Arunachal Pradesh in news during 2017.

Amid strong protest from China, the Dalai Lama on April 4 visited the state and delivered religious discourse and preaching during his seven-day stay in the state.

A few days later, the Arunachal Pradesh government strongly denounced China's move to 'standardised' official names for six places in the state, which Beijing claim as part of its territory, in an apparent retaliation against the Dalai Lama's visit.

Old resentments ran high in September after the decision of the Centre to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajongs in the state following a Supreme Court directive of 2015.

Politicians and activists, cutting across political allegiances in the state, claimed the move undermines the rights and interests of Arunachal's indigenous population.

The All Arunachal Students' Union (AAPSU), which has a long history of anti-Chakma agitations, called a state-wide strike on September 19 to protest against the Centre's decision. It led to sporadic violence, with vehicles being set afire, and the state nearly coming to a halt, as government offices, schools and markets remained closed.

In a letter to Union home minister Rajnath Singh, Chief Minister Pema Khandu said the matter was of deep emotional concern and his state was not ready to accept any infringement of the constitutional protection given to the tribals of the state.

The Arunachal Pradesh Assembly also resolved to call upon the Centre to take urgent steps to protect the territorial and other consequential rights of the state-tribal population as protected and guaranteed under the Constitution.

The predominantly Buddhist Chakmas and the Hindu Hajongs are among the earliest persecuted groups to have sought refuge in India.

Tragedy also struck the state as it reported two helicopter crashes during the year.

An IAF chopper pressed on flood rescue mission went missing near Sagalee in Papum Pare district with three crew members and IRBn personnel on board on July 4. Police recovered the bodies after three days of intense search operations.

In the other incident on October 6, an Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17 V5 helicopter crashed near Tawang killing all seven on board.

In addition, an IAF chopper with Union minister Kiren Rijiju on board made an emergency landing at a college ground here on July 4 due to poor visibility.

The year also witnessed crisis in the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) following a question paper fiasco in the preliminary examination of combined exams.

Trouble began when four Chakma candidates name were figured in list of candidates for the preliminary examination.

However, after a strong protest by various students' bodies in the state their names were omitted.

After the preliminary examination, aspirants accused the commission of providing erroneous question papers and setting questions from a Pakistan-based website.

The candidates even staged a dharna in front of the commission's office demanding re-conduct of the preliminary examination. The commission decided to re-conduct the preliminary examination.

Another issue that hogged the limelight in the state during 2017 was the inter-state boundary dispute with Assam.

Assam forest officials on December 8 demolished four under construction tourist resorts at Dollungmukh in Lower Subansiri district, a move which evoked strong resentments among various students' bodies of the state.

After a news portal made public the contents of a 60-page booklet allegedly written by former chief minister Kalikho Pul before committing suicide on August 9, 2016, his eldest wife Dongwimsai Pul demanded the Centre to initiate a CBI inquiry into the death of her husband.

The law-and-order scenario in the state during the year remained grim with underground cadres laying an ambush on 13 Assam Rifles near Jairampur in Changlang district on January 22 which led to death of two security personnel.

Intensifying its operation against underground groups active in Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts of the state, security forces during the year apprehended 14 NSCN (IM) rebels, 12 NSCN (K), one NSCN (U), 7 NSCN (R) and three ULFA cadres during the year besides recovering a huge cache of arms and ammunition.

To tackle the insurgency problem in three eastern districts of the state, the Centre sanctioned a special package for strengthening the security apparatus.

Flood and landslides lashed several district in the state during the year claiming several lives.

The state also witnessed political crisis during the year with the ruling BJP on August 11, parting ways with its North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) partner - the Peoples' Party of Arunachal (PPA).

On August 7, the state unit of the NCP was dissolved after resignation of all its leaders from the party who later joined the National Peoples' Party (NPP).

The BJP formally welcomed Chief Minister Khandu into its 'parivar' on January 7.

Tags : Arunachal Pradesh 2017

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