Yobin youths don’t deserve prolonged detention

Source: AP Times, 28 June 2021

[ Liahey Ngwazah ]

Notwithstanding the bail order of the honourable judge of the D&S court, Yupia, the president of the All Yobin Students’ Union, the president of the Yobin Youth Association and three other youths are still in jail since December 2020 for the sake of Arunachal panchayat rights pertaining to the indigenous people of the state.

In Arunachal Pradesh, panchayat nomination is possible only by the local indigenous residents as per the existing rules (ref: extraordinary gazette notification of GoAP, No 261, Vol XXVI, Naharlagun, 25 June, 2019, amendment of Form 4. 9. iii).

However, in Vijaynagar circle, the same panchayat raj has been wrongly extended to the non-indigenous settlers comprising retired Assam Rifles families, comprising five communities, and mostly of Nepali-speaking pensioner families.

To correct this anomaly, the Yobin tribe of Vijaynagar has been appealing to the authorities concerned for several years. Numerous representations were submitted, five peaceful rallies were held, and a record six-day hunger strike was held at Itanagar in December of 2019. The fasting was ended as the panchayat minister promised to correct what was wrong with the PR affairs.

However, even as the Yobin community waited for the authorities to look into the issue, there was not a sign of action regarding the genuine demands. Instead, when the time came to exercise the panchayat nomination, 2020, for the lone ZPM seat in Vijaynagar, the ruling ticket was given to a settler named Sujatha Rai.

The Yobin community once again took out a rally on 11 December, 2020, in Vijaynagar. And unfortunately, this rally turned violent. Several offices were gutted, which is very much regretted.

By and large, the Yobin community has been one of the most peaceful and hardworking tribes of our state. That violence is not in the blood. But the sole violent episode seemed to have erupted due to extreme frustration over severe attritions suffered over the years and the utter disregard to the demand to set right the panchayat incongruity pertaining to Vijaynagar circle.

Consequently, many arrests were made. And while most got out on bail, the president of the All Yobin Students’ Union, the president of the Yobin Youth Association and three other youths are still arbitrarily detained at the Changlang sub-jail.

The cases against each of them have been heard by the district & sessions court, Yupia. And after 107 days in the Jully jail, the learned JMFC of the capital and the honourable judge of the D&S court, Yupia, granted each of them bail. The bails were duly executed on 8 April, 2021, and they came out of the central jail, Jully. The JMFC and the judge weighed everything carefully. They noted that all of those cases were associated with a rally in Vijaynagar; that they have no history of any crime; that all of them were students and youth leaders; and that they be granted bail and made to abide by strict terms of the bail, which the youths agreed to wholeheartedly.

Surprise detention: As soon as they left the outer gate of Jully jail, even as the bailers were getting ready to take them home, a team of police from Changlang whisked them away to Changlang under the NSA.

We know that this detention is uncalled for. The terms and conditions of the bail as stipulated by the D&S court, Yupia, is more than enough to deter any future violence or any unlawful activities.

The detained youths confessed to the court and the NSA advisory board (on 17 May, 2021) that the protest that turned violent was out of frustration. They said they would not resort to such violence or unlawful means in the future.

Also, the bailers of each of them, before the judge, apex Yobin CBO leaders, before the DM had taken undertakings that these youths would not be allowed to engage in such violence or unlawful activities in the future.

The families, as well as Yobin public leaders, GBs, former panchayat leaders, etc, have been appealing in person to the DM, our local MLA, and others. The written appeals have been sent to the chief minister, the home minister, the chief secretary, etc, but favourable responses are still awaited.

Let it be known to all that these detained youths are zealous social activists. There is not a single adverse record against any of them at any of the villages of their domicile. And as far as the current cases are concerned, it surely is an aberration. Although their ‘means’ unfortunately transgressed the law, their ‘end’ was legitimate and legal and genuine, as such is admitted by one and all.

We want to claim that, since our country’s jurisprudence is for reformation and does not have punitive intent, they should be freed with whatever admonitions they are in need of. They have been in jail since December 2020. It’s been a long time. Also, the current detention seems to go against the fundamental right enshrined in our constitution [Article 20 (2)]. Since their cases are being tried by the D&S court, Yupia, detention for these very same cases by framing them under the NSA is not needed, so we believe.

These youths are our own brothers. It benefits no one to keep them in jail for so long during such a pandemic.

Finally, we appeal to the authorities concerned to help the youths, so that they are released from detention, and let them abide by the terms and conditions of bail already granted them by the honourable judge of the district and sessions court, Yupia, since 8 April, 2021. (Liahey Ngwazah is a family member of the detainees and a blogger at yobindreams.wordpress.com. He can be contacted at liahey@gmail.com)

Treatment for Cuts

Two leaves useful to treat fresh cuts.

The first is a herb, stands about 5 inches. Informed by Agu (f, 35 years) in June 2021. This is found at Miao area.

When cut or received deep injuries, the leaves of this shrub may be crushed and apply its juices and remains of leaves on the spot of injury. It has an effect of painkiller and antibiotics.

A shrub.

Another is a creeper that is found in abundance at Miao area. Yobins call is Chakmoh. Use and function are same as above.

Chakmoh

Highlights: March – June 2021

Burma Nallah Bridge Completed

Much to the relief of people, the steel bridge over Lomineye (Burma Nallah) was completed within a month or two. This is quite a fast execution of work.

Construction of MV Road Taken over by Kushal Sharma

Since the constructing agencies completely failed their work, now Tinsukia-based contractor Shri Kushal Sharma has taken sub-contract from the contractors, except the portion from Miphoto to Vijoynagar. This contractor has become serious, carrying on their work even in rainy season. In earlier years, the agencies pack up by March.

This is good practice. The roads constructed in rainy and flood days will endure the test of rains.

Role of BRO in MV Road

The CM in his visit to Vijoynagar announced that the maintenance of MV Road will be given to BRO, immediately after its inauguration.

However, it seems their involvement will begin way before its completion. Heard from some sources that stretches of MV Road where retaining walls, culverts, drainage which had not been incorporated in DPR under PMGSY is being surveyed and getting ready to be executed. That’s good move.

Shidi Helipad Tested Landing

On 11 May, a helipad landed safely at Shidi in its newly constructed helipad. In its maiden trip, a medical team arrived to give Corona Vaccines.

With this opening, the option for transporting the PDS and other essentials directly to Shidi can become a reality. Otherwise, villagers had been paying a huge amount for transportation, with 16 Rs per kilo which normally are sold at Rs 3 per kilo.

On 12 May 2021 (Miao), during a delegation to Honble Civil and Supply Minister Shri Kamlung Mossang, he said that the remaining free rice allocated last year, will also be transported to Shidi directly.

174 km Highway, Namchik to Vijoynagar

Heard a two-lane highway has been sanctioned from Namchik to VIjoynagar at the cost of Rs 1,100 crore.

This road was surveyed and approved in 2016 by Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways (MoRTH).

AYSU Leaders Detained Under NSA

Four AYSU leaders and a youth leader were arrested on 23 Dec 2020 in connection with the violence in Vijoynagar on 11 Dec.

And after their police enquiry and judicial custody mandatory period was over, the District and Sessions Court Yupia granted them bail with strict terms and conditions on the 7th April. The next day bail executed.

But the District Magistrate Changlang detained them under National Security Act 1980, right from the Jully Jail gate. Till today, the boys are lodged in Changlang Sub-Jail, instead of a detention center.

Pema Khandu Visits Vijoynagar

On 26 March 2021, Pema Khandu made history as the first CM of Arunachal Pradesh to ride and trek on MV Road. This became the most profile visit since the fleet of 8 Jeeps of the then Lt Governor KAA Raja in 1976. The Urban Development Minister Shri. Kamlung Mossang and the RWD Minister Honchun Ngandam, along with a host of top officials of the district and security personnel were among the CM’s entourage.

Admiration and appreciations poured in from the citizens of the State, with the most formal from the Governor Rtd Brig. B.D. Mishra:

Governor BD Mishra has expressed appreciation for the effort and commitment of Chief Minster Pema Khandu to provide all-weather motorable road from Miao to Vijaynagar in Changlang district.

The governor expressed confidence that, with appropriate technical, manpower and road construction inputs from the Border Roads Organization, the Miao-Vijaynagar road would be completed before the targeted date.

“He (Khandu) has established a shining initiative and excellent example of his concern for the welfare of the citizens of the state. This has happened for the first time in the history of Arunachal Pradesh that a CM has taken a trek of this kind for resolving the problems of his people,” Mishra said.

AP Times, 29 March 2021

CM’s Key Actions and Promises

  • Shidi Helipad was inaugurated.
  • Promised to complete MV Road by March 2022.
  • Maintenance of MV Road will be handed over to BRO.
  • Promised infrastructures for Shidi school.

Sources: AP Times, 28 March.

Vijoynagar Case: Perspective Difference on the Actual Reason for Violence

The News Daily has been consistently clear:

  • The AYSU has been demanding immediate removal of the panchayati raj rights extended to the ex-AR settlers in Vijoynagar, and shifting of the settlers out of Vijoyanagar.(AP Times, 11 Dec 2020).
  • The agitated mob was demanding immediate debarment of ex-Assam Rifles settlers in Vijaynagar from participating in the panchayat election, and shifting of the settlers out of Vijaynagar. (AP Times, 13 Dec 2020).
  • The Yobin community has been agitating and resorting to peaceful democratic protests against non-inclusion of settlers and non-APSTs under PRI since last many years with numerous dharnas, hunger strikes, etc, even being held in Itanagar,” it pointed out, and sought a more direct approach by the state government and engagement with the Yobin community on the vexed issue. (AP Times, 13 Dec 2020).
  • The mob demanded immediate debarment of ex-Assam Rifles settlers in Vijoynagar from participating in the panchayat election, and shifting of the settlers out of Vijoynagar. (AP Times, 23 Dec 2020)
  • On 11 December, a mob, allegedly led by the AYSU, torched government buildings and offices in Vijaynagar. The mob demanded immediate debarment of ex-Assam Rifles settlers in Vijaynagar from participating in the panchayat election, and shifting of the settlers out of Vijaynagar. (AP Times, 25 Dec 2020)

Govt’s view

But the govt agencies view differently. The intelligence and Police wanted to investigate “foreign elements” in this incident”. The DC wanted to ferociously deal the villagers for burning the office. While the Local Minister assured to protect the Settlers. Home Minister planned to take strong action.

  • Amar Sangno’s article “Vijaynagar violence: Shooting two birds with one stone?” (AP Times, 15 Dec 2020), is in short a report of what the intelligence and security agencies as suspicious about. He reported: “The agencies are reportedly being compelled to explore the possibility of the involvement of external forces in what they termed “coordinated and well-thought-out” violence.… investigating whether the demand for the exclusion of the ex-Assam Rifles settlers from the panchayati raj electoral list was just a cover-up with a bigger, hidden motive behind it.”
  • “My first impression is also there could be a foreign element, because the government of India offices were targeted. As of now, it is a matter of investigation. We are looking into all possible angles. If there involvement of foreign elements, the truth would be unearthed” Apa said. (IGP (Law & Order) Chukhu Apa, AP Times, 19 Dec 2020).
  • “All issues can be resolved by talks and discussions and the district administration will protect the interests of all our citizens,” the DC stated in a release, adding that those who indulge in violence will be dealt with sternly, in accordance with the law. Devansh Yadav, DC Changlang, AP Times, 14 Dec 2020).
  • Since 11 December, Mossang has been persistently appealing to the people of the valley to respect the rule of law and maintain peace and tranquillity. In Vijaynagar, the minister assured that the state government is committed to protect the Gorkha settlers from any threat. (K. Mossang, AP Times, 14 Dec 2020)
  • Home Minister Bamang Felix: Felix has expressed anguish over the destruction of public properties in Vijoynagar. Terming the incident unfortunate, he said such antisocial acts would not be tolerated and strong action would be taken against those responsible for it. “We accepted the demand of the Yobin students’ union and accordingly the panchayat election was postponed. Whatever happened is unfortunate and violence has no place in a modern society,” said the home minister. (AP Times, 12 Dec 2020)

Yobins and Student Organizations

While our tribe, the AAPSU and AISU are on the other end of the spectrum:

  • Yobins response: Representatives of the Yobin community stated that they did not endorse or encourage the violence which took place on Friday. They, however, stated that it was “a spontaneous act out of frustration against the state government over decades-long deprivation on many fronts.” (AP Times, 15 Dec 2020)
  • At the same time, the AAPSU squarely put the major responsibility for the escalation of the problem on the state government, saying the government was “not being reciprocative to the sentiment of the Yobin community of the area.” “There is a need for self-retrospection and soul searching on part of the authorities as to why members from the Yobin community were compelled to take such extreme measures. The Yobin community has been agitating and resorting to peaceful democratic protests against non-inclusion of settlers and non-APSTs under PRI since last many years with numerous dharnas, hunger strikes, etc, even being held in Itanagar,” it pointed out, and sought a more direct approach by the state government and engagement with the Yobin community on the vexed issue. The union reminded the state government of similar existing problems in other assembly constituencies and said that “consistent disregard for the indigenous peoples’ rights and aspirations may invite more such happenings in the near future, as well.” (AP Times, 14 Dec 2020).
  • In a letter to the chief secretary, the AISU stated the incident could have been averted “had the state government timely responded to the demands of the locals.” It said that the peaceful protest had turned violent as the government did not respond despite submission of several memorandums, which hurt the sentiments of the locals, the students’ community and the indigenous people of the state. The union said that “the locals had every right to raise the issue as giving tickets to non-APSTs as it violates the laid down Panchayati Raj norms of the state.” ( AP Times, 12 Jan 2021)

Ground Reports of Vijoynagar by Tongam Rina

The Editor of Arunachal Times, Tongam Rina, visited Vijoynagar Circle recently. She has been releasing several highlights of the various problems faced in the area. The problems are not just Panchayat and Settlers issue, they are much more ranging from medical, school, roads, anganwadi, water supply, non-appointment of GBs etc.

  1. 5 Jan: A patient being carried on a bamboo stretcher in Vijaynagar, Changlang district on 4 January. The entire circle with a population of about 6,000 has just one PHC with two nurses and a nursing assistant in the circle headquarters. The sub-centre in Gandhigram (Shidi) is not functional. -Tongam Rina
  2. 6 Jan: An Anganwadi in Dawodi village, Vijaynagar circle, Changlang district. The author did not elaborate on this topic. But the pathetic condition of the child care centres of the area cannot be ignored. All the child related supports had to be carried headload to villages from Miao. And all reporting takes place from Miao. There is not one officer overseeing anganwadi centers in Vijoynagar.
  3. 7 Jan: Lisus question police allegation of foreign element in Vijaynagar violence. “The Arunachal Pradesh Police’s (APP) allegation that there may have been involvement of foreign element in the Vijaynagar violence has not gone down well with the Lisu /Yobin community.” [only one correction of fact: in the entire Yobin community, there is only one govt-appointed GB, that is the Hazola GB].
  4. 8 Jan: A Mizo family in Vijaynagar. “Thanmawia was barely nine years old when his father, an Assam Rifles jawan, flew the family to Vijaynagar in 1969.” [Good highlights of Settlers’ plight. Some people wanted to claim Settlers equal Gorkha which has been misleading].
  5. 10 Jan: The Assam Rifles ex-servicemen of Vijaynagar.
  6. 14 Jan: Water crisis in Vijaynagar circle. “As there are no water pipelines reaching most homes, villagers in Vijaynagar circle in Changlang district are dependent on muddy streams or nearby rivers. Water is untreated. Most Gandhigram villagers fetch water from Shidilo, the river adjacent to the village, while in Mazgaon, villagers are dependent on a nearby muddy stream that passes through paddy fields. In the Vijaynagar market area, people are dependent on a few public water pipelines.”
  7. 26 Jan: The helicopter landing pad in Gandhigram (Shidi) in Changlang district is yet to be made operational months after its completion. A village of more than 500 houses, Gandhigram is not connected by road or air. Circle headquarters Vijaynagar is five hours’ walk, while Miao, the nearest town, is four days’ walk from Gandhigram. (Photo by Tongam Rina).

8. 1 March: Channel 5: Where the whole village listens to conversations (AP Times)

He pointed to his constant companion. Someone was planning to sell meat and had conveyed it on the walkie-talkie. Till I was in Vijaynagar, I had no idea that a walkie-talkie could be used as mode of daily communication. In the absence of phone connection, it’s the only way one can communicate.

The whole village listens to the conversation if they are tuned in, so they know where pork is being sold, who had a child, and who was waiting for whom!

29 March 2021: Large cardamom replaces jhum in Gandhigram

The villagers of Gandhigram have abandoned jhum cultivation altogether in favour of large cardamom, which they say has changed the economy of the area.

AP Times, 29 March 2021

2021 First Follow up on MV Road

This is the year to complete the MV Road.

“They informed that the stipulated date of completion of the road is fixed for December 2021.” (AP Times, 5 Jan 2021).

3 Jan 2021

CM, governor discuss developmental projects (AP Times).

The governor shared his concern over the time-bound construction of the Miao-Vijaynagar road, which is not progressing satisfactorily. They also discussed speeding up projects which are being slowed down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

5 Jan 2021

Mein dissatisfied with delay in completion of Vijaynagar road (AP Times).

While reviewing the status of the 157-km Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) road from Miao to Vijaynagar with RWD Minister Honchun Ngandam and UD, Food & Civil Supplies Minister cum local MLA, Kamlung Mosang on Monday, Mein felt that justice has not been done to the people of Vijaynagar as “we have promised them all-weather road connectivity since the very beginning of their settlement in this remote administrative headquarter.”

It was informed that the 157-km long PMGSY road was sanctioned in five parts. First part was sanctioned in the year 2014 and till now Part I (12.50km) & II (14.50km) has been completed and work under part III (34 km) & IV (80km) are in progress. The work under Part V is yet to start.

10 Jan 2021

Gov calls for early completion of Miao-Vijaynagar road (AP Times).

Governor BD Mishra has called for early completion of the Miao-Vijaynagar road in Changlang district to harness the tourism potential of the area.

Mishra asked the DCM, who is also the finance minister, to provide adequate and regular funding for the road project. He advised the RWD minister to ensure supervision as the RWD is implementing the road project under the PMGSY.

Inviting people’s involvement in facilitating timely implementation of the road project, the governor asked the local MLA and UD minister to ensure smooth progress of the work.

28 Jan 2021

GOVERNOR EMPHASISES ON NEED TO IMPROVE ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE FOR DEVELOPMENT OF RURAL AREAS

The governor pointed out that the road from Miao to Vijaynagar in Changlang district has still not received proper attention and progress on the road is “disappointing”, it said.

Work on Phase IV and V of the road has made no progress. Mishra said that the road besides being a boon for the people has national strategic importance which cannot be allowed to lag behind.

“This kind of delay in such an important road construction is beyond comprehension,” he said and stressed on timely and proper implementation of the road.

The governor further emphasised that utilising every paisa of the allocated fund in the project must be ensured and advised the ministers for close monitoring of the road project to ensure proper deployment of funds and manpower. Mishra while discussing the issues of the road project reiterated that the Vijaynagar area in the eastern tip of the state has enormous potential for tourism for wildlife watch, adventure trekking, eco and cultural visits and huge scope for other economic activities as well.

He said that along with economic prosperity of the local people of Vijaynagar, Ramnagar and Gandhigram, the PMGSY road would facilitate in the conservation of the flora and fauna of the Namdapha National Park besides ensuring national security, the release added.

Eastern Sentinel, 28 Jan.

5 February 2021

Finish early or hand over MV road to central agency, Yobin society demands

“The Miao-Vijaynagar (MV) road construction work should be handed over to GREF/BRO-like road organizations if the RWD doubts its own efficiency to provide road connectivity in the area within a stipulated time,” the society said in a letter to RWD Minister Honchun Ngandam.

AP Times, 5 Feb

High-level team inspects Miao-Vijaynagar road

MIAO, 4 Feb: A high-level team led by RWD Minister Honchun Ngandam, UD Minister Kamlung Mosang and RWD CE inspected the ongoing construction of the 157 kms long Miao-Vijaynagar road in Changlang district.

“The road is strategically important for the state, the nation and Changlang district,” said Ngandam, and directed the contractors and engineers to expedite the construction by deploying men and machines “in triple force.”

“The PMGSY road from Miao to Vijaynagar has been pending for the last many decades, but today we have covered at least 40 kms from Miao. I expect that by March 2021 at least 100 kms of the road will be completed,” Ngandam said.

AP Times, 5 Feb 2021

6 February 2021

The importance of MV road

Fed up with the constant delay in execution of the Miao-Vijaynagar (MV) road, the Yobin Welfare Society (YWS) has written to the RWD minister to either complete the work on time or hand over the project to central agencies like the BRO. Vijaynagar, situated in Changlang district, does not have road connection and people have to walk for seven days on foot to reach Miao, the nearest town. The demand of the YWS makes sense and the state government should take it positively. Despite several assurances by successive governments, they have failed to complete the MV road.

At present the road is being taken up under the PMGSY by the RWD. This too has been delayed. If indeed the state government is finding it difficult to execute the project it should consider handing it over to the BRO. They have the experience of executing projects in difficult terrains like Taksing, Sarli, Kibito, etc, in Arunachal and in places like Ladakh, Sikkim, etc. The experience will come in handy in executing the MV road. It is a great tragedy that till today Vijayanagar circle does not have road connectivity. The people of the area have suffered enough. It is time the state government introspects. Is it not a crime to deny road connection to a large population living along the international boundary? From the security point of view also, early construction of the Miao-Vijaynagar road is paramount.

AP Times, 6 Feb 2021

High-level team led by RWD Minister Honchun Ngandam, UD Minister Kamlung Mosang, Chief Engineer RWD, Er. Nyodu inspected the ongoing construction of 157km long Miao-Vijaynagar road. (Arunachal Today, 5 Feb 2021)

9 Feb 2021

Governor meets defence minister

Arunachal Governor BD Mishra briefed Defence Minister Raj Nath Singh on the state government’s proposal of making a memorial to Major Bob Khathing in Tawang.

The governor also raised the issue of border roads and bridges by the Border Roads Organization – particularly for the Miao-Vijoynagar road – under various flagship programmes of the central government.

AP Times, 9 Feb 2021

6 Feb 2021

Amid impediments, construction of MV road goes on

This is a long write up that covers the story of MV road, present status and problems, but here is the conclusion statement:

Unless there is proper coordination between the RWD and the forest (wildlife) authorities, the possibility of getting the road through is still a distant dream.

AP Times, 6 Feb 2021

16 Feb 2021

He also flagged off construction work of the Miao-Vijaynagar Road in Changlang district and sought its early completion saying that the Governor’s Office is monitoring the project and no inordinate delay in completion would be tolerated.

Assam Sentinel, 16 Feb 2021

27 Feb 2021

Gov reviews progress of Miao-Vijaynagar road

ITANAGAR, 26 Feb: Governor BD Mishra on Friday reviewed the progress of the Miao-Vijaynagar road in Changlang district with the senior engineer working on the project.

Stating that early completion of the road has become highly pressing, he observed that “the disjointed one side and single line works approach has caused all the delay so far.”

For this strategically important road, unless multipronged work is adopted and the work fast-tracked, this road will never see the light of day,” he added.

“The 157 km road must have five to six simultaneous points on both ends of the road, from where the road construction activity must be taken up,” Mishra suggested.

There are a number of rivulets on the route – some perennial, some seasonal – which need bridges.

The governor observed that “the contractors have not yet placed bridges fabrication order nor commenced the construction of the abutments for the launch of the bridges.

AP Times, 27 Feb 2021

16 March: CM calls for speedy execution of Joram-Koloriang road, Hollongi airport

Chairing a meeting on e-pragati through virtual conference with the deputy commissioners, officers and agencies of the central government, and field officers, the CM expressed satisfaction over the progress of the Miao-Vijaynagar road.

AP Times, 16 March 2021

17 March 2021: CM sets another ambitious target

Chief Minister Pema Khandu has announced that Vijaynagar and Tali, the two administrative circles which do not have road connectivity till now, will get road connection by March 2022. He made this announcement while addressing a BJP event in Namsai on Tuesday.

AP Times, 17 March.

18 March 2021:

While discussing the Miao-Vijaynagar road with the minister, who is the local MLA of the area, the governor suggested that the supply orders for 11 bridges required on the road must be placed now for their manufacture. He further emphasized that the abutments and embankments for launching of these bridges must be prepared now, so that there is no loss of time.

Mishra said that the “acid test of the road will be when a civil bus will be able to operate from Miao to Vijaynagar nonstop, in all weather conditions throughout the year.” He also informed about the assistance offered by the Indian Army in completion of the vital road. “It must be studied seriously and availed of as needed by the state,” he said. (Raj Bhavan)

AP Times, 19 March 2021

22 March 2021: Khandu sets deadline for completion of MV, Tali roads

Khandu said the MV road, work on which began when Arunachal was a union territory, is yet to be completed and his government would ensure early completion of the road.

“The Miao-Vijaynagar road is one of the oldest roads, which has been under construction since UT time, but we couldn’t give connectivity,” said the CM.“

I took this challenge to complete within this year. Another challenge I took is road connectivity in Tali constituency. This year, I will ensure that connectivity to both Vijayanagar and Tali is completed,” he asserted.

AP Times, 23 March 2021

Aftermath of the 11th December

The intensity of this violence is too big. I look forward to a future where we won’t such eruptions. I envision a responsive govt to the needs of its citizens, not just the Panchayat Issue but other essential services – the road connection, telecommunication, on-spot govt staffs and infrastructures.

The govt is still to bring this situation to a normalcy and those involved in this incident are being arrested and under investigation. The unfolding developments.

  1. 18 Dec: Goodnews that “Vijaynagar limping back to normalcy” (AP Times).
  2. 19 Dec: AP Times published versions of Vijoynagar by Yobins “We cannot part with our ancestral land” and Settlers “We have nowhere else to go: Gorkha settlers of Vijaynagar”
  3. 20 Dec: YWS issued a news release “YWS expresses anguish over Vijaynagar violence”. Dr Nani Bath also wrote a deep reflection on the Vijoynagar problem, “Vijaynagar and beyond”
  4. 21 Dec: AYSU released a video, sharing the tensions and tough means of solving the problems in Vijoynagar (Arunachal Today). Arunachal Times and Eastern Sentinel covered extensively in writing with titles “Security forces harassing innocent villagers, says Yobin union” and “Vijoynagar violence: yobin students body blames government’s ‘false promises’ for incident”.
  5. 22 Dec: Editorial “Handle Vijaynagar issue responsibly” after the allegations by YWS and AYSU that police is harassing the public. Ngwazosa was set to surrender before the ADC Miao, even the society leaders submitted a letter to DC who directed ADC to do security arrangement.
  6. 23 Dec: Vijoynagar violence: 5 members of Yobin students body including its president arrested (Eastern Sentinel).
  7. 24 Dec: 45 arrested for arson and riot in Vijaynagar (AP Times).
  8. 13 Jan 2021: Union demands immediate release of arrested Yobin students (AP Times). “The Arunachal Indigenous Students’ Union (AISU) has demanded that the state government release the Yobin student leaders, who were arrested on arson charges in Vijaynagar recently, by giving them clean shit within 15 days, failing which, the union said that it would launch a democratic movement.”

Violence in Vijoynagar

After three years of peaceful demands and protests, it reached to another point on 11 Dec. The peaceful protests turned violent.

This is unfortunate, but if the govt had responded earlier, this situation could have been evaded. But here we are with a deadlock situation.

The video summarize the core demand made onsite on 11 Dec 2020.

News reports from Arunachal Times (12 Dec 2020).

ITANAGAR, 11 Dec: Simmering tension is reportedly brewing in Vijoynagar in Changlang district after agitated public and students torched government buildings and offices there on Friday morning, demanding immediate debarment of ex-Assam Rifles (AR) settlers in Vijoynagar from participating in the panchayat election, and shifting of the settlers out of Vijoynagar.

Police sources informed that at around 8:30 am on Friday, Yobin students, youths and public, led by the All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU), burned down the EAC office, the post office and the Special Branch (SB) office, and ransacked the Vijoynagar police station.

“They were around 400 in number and came from Gandhigram with daos, lathis, bows and arrows, shouting ‘Hamari maangey puri karo,” the sources said.

The AYSU has been demanding immediate removal of the panchayati raj rights extended to the ex-AR settlers in Vijoynagar, and shifting of the settlers out of Vijoyanagar.

The day followed by condemnation from four orgs: United Miao Mission (UMM), Miao Singpho Ramma Hpung (MSRH),  Tirap changlang and longding students’ federation (TCLSF) and All changlang district students’ union (ACDSU) on the 12 Dec 2020. Its ok they feel they need to do this. But I would think that they should consider how to support and help to progress on this fight.

AAPSU also condemned on 13 Dec but they made good point:

At the same time, the AAPSU squarely put the major responsibility for the escalation of the problem on the state government, saying the government was “not being reciprocative to the sentiment of the Yobin community of the area.”

“There is a need for self-retrospection and soul searching on part of the authorities as to why members from the Yobin community were compelled to take such extreme measures. The Yobin community has been agitating and resorting to peaceful democratic protests against non-inclusion of settlers and non-APSTs under PRI since last many years with numerous dharnas, hunger strikes, etc, even being held in Itanagar,” it pointed out, and sought a more direct approach by the state government and engagement with the Yobin community on the vexed issue.

Meanwhile, 24 persons from Hazolo and Dawodi were arrested on the 13 Dec. I think the authorities should exercise such raids with caution. It could be done at later times when the situation calms down. It is still very tensed now.

14 Dec 2020 DC, Minister and administration onsite.

Our local administration is only for emergency. Where were they from 2014-2020? They left the EAC office in the hands of a Kotoki (Political Interpreter) and few LC (Load Carriers). Administration made a mockery of Vijoynagar Circle.

(1) Facebook

(1) Facebook

15 Dec 2020

The Settlers of Vijoynagar made a news release, clarifying their stand. Most of the points they requested the govt to intervene. That’s good and wise. They should continue to ask govt to provide them alternatives. This is good shift of their earlier position, when they used to provide false info about Lisus and seem to enjoy govt’s favour.

Vijaynagar violence: Shooting two birds with one stone? (AP Times, 15 Dec 2020) The Intelligence Department is seems to be suspicious why offices esp Special Bureau was burnt. It is govt right to investigate, but trying to find ulterior motives will find zero result. Because if the govt had respond to the demand of removal of Panchayat Raj earlier, this unfortunate incident would never happen.

16 Dec Vijaynagar violence: Gorkhas seek governor’s intervention (AP Times). They made good appeal to Governor. But this statement is wrong.

They said that the settlers had been sent to the then uninhabited land (Vijaynagar) on the line of duty during the Srijitga expedition to integrate the area and to mark Vijaynagar as an Indian territory.

It was never “uninhabited land”. The Assam Rifles used force to evict all Yobin villagers and hurdled in Gandhigram village.

19 Dec 2020 (Eastern Sentinel)

ITANAGAR, Dec 18: At least 39 people have been detained in connection with the Vijoynagar violence and arson incident.
Informing the media about the development, IGP (Law & Order) Chuku Apa said as of now the situation in Vijoynagar is normal and security forces in required numbers have been deployed in the area to contain further escalation of violence. He also disclosed that out of 39 detainees at least 26 were arrested including 7 women, out of which 5 were juvenile. “Nine more people were detained on Thursday but were released on bail,” the IGP said. Giving further details, he disclosed that at least five cases have been transferred to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and the arrestees will be brought here at the SIT office for further questioning. When asked about the involvement of underground elements in the incident, the IGP informed that investigation is on and as of now no such evidence has been found.
When asked about the attempt to arrest the President of All Yobin Students’ Union (AYSU), the IGP confirmed the news, adding that although the police team went to arrest him, he was not available in the suspected location. However, efforts are on to arrest the AYSU President, he informed. 

In the context of this Vijoynagar violence, the contention for the land emerged again. And this became a curiosity for the journalist. One such is a two article series by Taba Ajum entitled, “We cannot part with our ancestral land’ (AP Times, 19 Dec 2020). The second part “We have nowhere else to go: Gorkha settlers of Vijaynagar” (AP Times, 20 Dec 2020). Settlers now seem to understand the reality, otherwise, they prefer to call themselves as local. But one wrong statement is wrong, “The Gorkha community also said that they have not ventured out of the land demarcated for them.” There are several cases of land encroachment lying in the EAC office.

Panchayati Issue after Deferment

The day, on the 2nd Dec, Panchayat election in Vijoynagar Block was deferred, AAPSU held a meeting at Circuit House, Miao asking for public opinion. The voice was clear cut – no non APST of VIjoynagar should be allowed.

And as they informed, they had a meeting with the CM, Panchayat Minister and BJP top leaders. They received an assurance that this matter will be done. But this is still an assurance. We are waiting for an executive order.

Consistent to the words of AAPSU, govt issued the minutes of the minute to AAPSU and then to public.

Minutes of meeting between AAPSU and GoAP on 3 Dec 2020.

The govt agreed to study the suggestions/demands and then they will call the AAPSU. No response yet till today, 4 days after.

At the local level, we have the EAC Vijoynagar trying to run administration remotely. He is posted for Vijoynagar, but stationed at Miao, 157 KM offsite. How can he discharge his duties properly? This circular even reflects great disrespect to our people. Here he gave one day to call a meeting. And this meeting is just two days before the deadline called by AYSU on 10 Dec 2020.

11 Dec 2020 is a date we don’t want to remember. This mark a day when govt completely ignored our voice. People had to resort to this kind of action to attract govt attention. Our demand has been very clear: Remove Settlers from Panchayati system. And no more extension of land lease to them.

A very good report from East Majo of today’s incidents and the reason for the protest.