Itanagar, Aug. 19: The Gegong Apang government today kept its promise to repeal the contentious Arunachal Pradesh Control of Organised Crime Act, inviting derision from ousted chief minister Mukut Mithi, who described it as a “gift to the NSCN (I-M) for helping him topple my government”.
The Assembly adopted the repeal bill by voice vote after a two-hour debate, during which Mithi argued that there was nothing draconian about the legislation. He told the media later that the act had been repealed not to spare the people of Arunachal Pradesh any trouble, but to give the NSCN (I-M) the freedom to do whatever it liked in the twin districts of Tirap and Changlang.
“It was their (the NSCN-IM) demand from the beginning. They even tried to prevent us from enacting the legislation. Its repeal is a gift to the outfit,” the Congress leader said.
Mithi warned of unrestricted extortion, intimidation and other unlawful activities by the NSCN (I-M) now that the anti-terror legislation had been repealed. He said Apang would have only amended the perceived objectionable clauses in the act had he not been so keen to please the Naga militant group.
The former chief minister did not spare the Centre either. “The act was a replica of the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, except for the name and the scope of its operation. Surprisingly, the National Democratic Alliance did not find anything draconian about this legislation,” he said.
Mithi said the NSCN (I-M) had already made its intentions clear, attacking an Assam Rifles convoy at Jagun in Changlang district last week and forcing the people to boycott Independence Day celebrations there.
The criticism, however, seemed to have no effect on Apang, who had promised to repeal the act — promulgated by his predecessor on August 2, 2002 — the very next day after being sworn in.
Participating in the debate within the Assembly, home minister L. Wanglat said a legislation that had been adopted despite resistance from political parties, student organisations and NGOs must be repealed. He allayed the Opposition’s apprehension of unrest in the militant-infested Tirap and Changlang districts, saying the government could keep the situation under control without invoking a draconian legislation.
“The act was a penalty imposed on the peaceful, simple and law-abiding people of the state,” Wanglat said.