| Jarbom Gamlin |
Tezpur, Oct. 11: A peace rally in support of Arunachal chief minister Jarbom Gamlin sparked violence when participants of the meeting clashed with activists enforcing a bandh in Itanagar today, leaving several persons injured and vehicles gutted.
The skirmish broke out allegedly between those for and against the rally called by the Nyshi Consultative Committee (NCC) to give embattled Gamlin an opportunity to publicly clear the allegation that he was indulging in divisive policies.
The rally coincided with Arunachal Pradesh Indigenous Peoples Union’s 12-hour Papum Pare district bandh called today against the deteriorating law and order situation, making it difficult for the rally participants to reach the venue.
Bandh enforcers obstructed their march resulting in clashes, marked by stone-pelting from both sides.
Police tried to bring the situation under control by firing tear gas shells to disperse the mob.
Few persons were injured in the protest and few vehicles were reportedly burnt.
Some shots were also fired by those involved in the clashes and the road from Naharlugun to Itanagar was blocked at several places by the boulders.
Bandh enforcers allegedly also lit vehicle tyres.
Talking to this correspondent over telephone, Arunachal Pradesh DGP Kanwaljeet Deol said eight vehicles were set on fire between Naharlagun to Itanagar Indira Gandhi Park, the rally venue. However, she declined to give details about the numbers injured in the incident.
Sources said over 20 people had been hurt. The disruptive incidents in the state capital of Arunachal Pradesh has not only sparked tension but is also likely to put pressure on the Congress high command, which is dithering to take a call on the demand for removal of Gamlin for the alleged breakdown in governance in that frontier state.
The situation is likely to get complicated because of the Nyshi Elite Society and All Nyshi Students Union-called 36-hour bandh in six districts out of 16 in the state from tomorrow morning.
The Nyshi Elite Society and the students’ union, which had successfully conducted a rally for removal of Gamlin, had rejected the government’s clarification on the defamatory reports against the Nyshi community.
Both the organisations are demanding chief minister Gamlin’s replacement over his failure to give justice to the Nyshi community, which was hurt by the remarks.
Takam Sanjoy, Lok Sabha MP from Arunachal West, while appealing to the people for peace and harmony, said the incident was only a reflection of the growing frustration of the Gamlin-led state government against the anti-government mood of the people.
“The situation is really grim back home. It reflects the frustration of the Gamlin government which has sponsored today’s NCC rally to clarify its stand on the divisive policies. There were around 60 rallyists and 500 policemen who fired at unarmed protesters against the rally. Four persons were reportedly shot by the police of which one is said to be in a critical condition,” Sanjoy told The Telegraph.
A supporter of the rally alleged the bandh was pre-planned to disrupt the NCC peace rally for communal harmony. It was supported by 25 of the 26 major tribes of the state.
“At a meeting held on Sunday at a leading Itanagar hotel, the leaders in support of the rally had said clearly spelt out that Delhi was for India and Itanagar for Arunachalees. Some leading politicians like T.C. Teli, N. Pinch, N. Tara, T. Kripa were the speakers at today’s peace rally which was disrupted. Gamlin had returned from Delhi yesterday to clarify his stand. It’s very unfortunate.”
Just like the bandh enforcers, he, too, blamed the Congress high command for the incidents.
A state government employee, who was stranded here because of the bandh, said the situation in the frontier state was turning worse by the day.