Panchayat Issue After the Hunger Strike

[The post being updated. Last update: 30/11/2020]

The AYSU Ultimatum

A major step toward the demand for removal of Panchayat Raj illegal extended to Ex-Assam Rifles Settlers of Vijoynagar took place at Itanagar’s IG Park, from 27 Nov to 2 Dec 2019. The event was called off after the Home cum Panchayat Minister Shri. Bamang Felix intervened and promised to fulfil the demands of the protestors (Arunachal24).

After that our only job was waiting. A long wait for 11 months with zero response from the government. Then suddenly there was an announcement on the 12 November declaring the PR election schedule, 22 December 2020 as the date of poll.

In response, our AYSU leadership made an announcement through a news conference with this one line demand as a last resort: Take away all Settlers from Vijoynagar Circle within 10 December 2020.

AYSU demands elimination of ‘Panchayati Raj system Rights extended to Non- indigenous people (Courtesy: Arunachal Today, 12 Nov 2020).

At the same time, the AYSU release its Intimation and Chronology of this demand called Arunachal Bachao Andolan.

The AAPSU Entry

After a long silence, the AAPSU finally stood up on this issue during a press conference on the 17 November 2020.

Press briefing by AAPSU on Panchayat Election (Arunachal Today, 17 Nov 2020).

Regarding the Settlers they stated as:

Stating that the panchayat election is conducted on the basis of the Daying Ering Recommendation, 1965, the union said “there was gross mistake by including temporary settlers of Arunachal in panchayat election in Vijoynagar given the right as indigenous tribes.”

The AAPSU urged the commission to ensure early correction. It stated that the non-indigenous settlers of Vijoynagar were settled “with the specific condition of territorial integration of India in 1960s and their land lease agreement of the Vijoynagar area settlers ended in 2020 and there is no question of extending the settlers the rights of participation of panchayat election.”

Arunachal Times, 18 Nov 2020

Responding to the press conference of AAPSU, the State Election Commission (SEC) said,

With regards to the issue relating to Vijoynagar of Changlang district, the Commission clarified that it is the subject of the state government to take policy decision and not within the purview of the SEC which decides on the basis of settled Act/ Rules of the government while adding that the issue has been referred to the Changlang deputy commissioner.

AP Times, 19 Nov 2020

The SEC has been consistent in their statement. They said the same thing whenever our delegates visited them. The final call is on the GoAP but they had been adamantly unwilling.

The AAPACSU’s Ultimatum

The AAPACSU as always has been very committed to step up to the indigenous rights and they did it again on the 25 Nov with their press briefing.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Anti-Corruption Students’ Union (AAPACSU) on Wednesday demanded that the state government cancel the electoral rights extended to ex-Assam Rifles servicemen to participate in local Panchayati Raj Institutions election in Vijaynagar area of Changlang district.

“If chief minister Pema Khandu and PR Minister Felix cannot resolve the issue then they should resign on moral grounds,” he said.

He informed that the All Yobin Students’ Union is gearing up to pursue the issue at local level in case the government failed to resolve the matter by December. He also said that there may be law and order situation in Vijaynagar if the issue is not resolved on time.

AP Times (26 Nov 2020)

The 3-Day Stunt

Another insult was added to local people by giving a party ZPM ticket to a Settler candidate called Smt. Sujata Rai on the 29 Nov 2020. Ruling party has preference of outsider to indigenous candidate.

It is very strange that the Changlang BJP Unit would recommend such a candidate. This will be something to watch how the Returning Officers would pass their scrutiny.

On the same day, the AAPACSU sounded their strong objections through a press release (Gyolo News and more detail in Pakke Kessang Times).

The President of Yobin Welfare Society made public announcement that participation of non APST in panchayat will not be tolerated.

Finally All Changlang District Students Union woke up from their slumber with this announcement on the 29 Nov.

Even AAPSU joined this objection and attracted even a frontpage news at AP Times (30 Nov 2020). They served two day ultimatum to withdrawn party tickets from non APST candidates. And on the 30 Nov, they went live on news.

The local MLA K. Mossang in a very normal way clarified that whatever wrong had come into being should continue. He is not at all ready to rectify the issues, rather want to even further create. Very strange that he has criticized AYSU President as someone who is creating communal disharmony in Vijoynagar. In fact he is the one who is doing that.

The press release of AAPSU and Mosang attracted headlines at AP TImes on 1 Dec 2020, which each on opposite stands. AAPSU said non indigenous must not be allowed. Mosang insists it is a tradition and there were no problem before.

Even the BJP Spokesperson went on defensive mood. And worse, he pretends ignorance.

Even Save Arunachal Youth Association (SAYA) joined and warned the govt.

The BJP on 30 Nov, issued a cancellation order,

In a letter to the Changlang district returning officer, state BJP president Biyuram Wahge stated, “All the BJP tickets issued earlier to the party prospective candidates for 14/08 Vijoynagar zilla parishad (ZPM) and all the gram panchayat constituencies of 14/08 Vijoynagar is withdrawn and stands cancelled.”

AP Times (1 Dec 2020)

And after 3 years of rigorous demands, the CM has come out openly with this statement for the first time,

Meanwhile, on the opposition raised against non-APSTs contesting in the panchayat election in Vijoynagar, Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday said that he would soon hold a meeting and look into the matter seriously.

“We will find out what the constitution says and will contemplate on it. If required, we will also take up the matter with the State Election Commission,” Khandu said.

Culmination of 3 Day Stunt

Three reactions,

  • Cancellation of BJP Tickets given to non-APST and including all tickets of BJP for Vijoynagar Circle on 1 Dec.
  • Deferring the PR election for Vijoynagar Circle by the State Election Commission on 2 Dec. This just revealed that the govt is unprepared or unwilling to abide by the law of the land.
  • The CM seems to be getting serious and wants to look the matter.

More Solidarities

Former All Mishmi Students Union (AMSU) gave support and he seems to be pretty knowledgeable on this issue. (Arunachal Today)

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