2023: Arunachalees united to protest many crucial issues

By Pradeep Kumar

ITANAGAR, Dec 30: Preparations toeing plans are afoot across the world to welcome New Year 2024 and bid goodbye to passing by Year 2023. But many crucial issues rocked sensitive border state of Arunachal Pradesh with Arunachalees irrespective of any distinction uniting to protest.

APPSC issue: Protest against Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) exams paper leakage by aspirants and their parents topped the list of important issues, including termination of service of 256 Govt employees for giving forged documents for jobs and denial of visa to Wushu players by China for Asian Games.

The reported leak of APPSC question paper for AE written examinations on 26-27 August, 2022 continued to haunt the state even as the GoAP agreed to 13-point demands of Pan Arunachal Joint Steering Committee (PAJSC) fighting the issue.

In fact, APPSC candidate Gyamar Padang was the whistleblower by lodging an FIR at Itanagar police station on 29.08.22 complaining that the question papers for the AE examinations were leaked.

While APPSC chairman had resigned owning responsibility, the state police SIT had launched probe initially before the case was handed over to the CBI in October, 2022 which had registered a case against a coaching institute personnel in Itanagar and unknown officials of the APPSC based on a complaint. The episode had taken an ugly turn  after APPSC under secretary-cum-assistant controller of examinations Tumi Gangkak allegedly died by committing suicide and Gyamar Padang died in May while undergoing treatment.

The PAJSC, not satisfied with the progress of the CBI probe and subsequent actions, had launched two-day violent agitation during February 17-18 that had hit normal life hard with business establishments, markets, banks, educational institutions, Govt and private offices remaining closed and vehicles off the roads. Thousands of protestors had blocked the lifeline NH-415 by burning tyres and damaged a few two-wheelers and other vehicles. The clashes between the agitators and the security forces had caused injuries to 10 people on both sides.

Apprehending deteriorating law and order situation, the GoAP had temporarily suspended internet services in the capital region, comprising Itanagar, Naharlagun, Nirjuli and Banderdewa besides postponing state board exams for classes V, VII and XI in all schools of the capital region during the agitation.

Chief Minister Pema Khandu along with Home Minister Bamang Felix, Water Resource Development Minister Mama Natung and senior officials after the agitation had held a meeting with representatives of PAJSC, All Nyishi Students Union, Nari Shakti and activist Sol Dodum to resolve most of the 13-point demands. The meeting on February 18, ahead of President Droupadi Murmu’s two-day visit (February 20-21), led to suspension of the stir.

Insurgency: Incidents of abduction by various factions of outlawed NSCN for ransom posing challenges for the GoAP.  The NSCN-K (Ang Mai) faction had abducted a village chief and a gaon bura from Longding district in November for not paying “house tax” of Rs 50,000 demanded by them. A JE and a supervisor of a construction company of GREF were kidnapped by three armed militants of same outfit from a camp near the Tisa River of the district but both were released on November 28. But whether any ransom was paid or nor for their release remained unknown.

The most shocking was assassination of former Congress MLA Yumsem Matey by unknown gunmen near Indo-Myanmar border in Lazu circle of Tirap district. Amid protests by opposition Congress over deteriorating law and order situation, the BJP Govt decided to hand over the murder case to National Investigation Agency (NIA). State’s apex students’ body has demanded conclusive probe into murder of Matey and former NPP MLA Tirong Aboh and his (among 11 on 21.05.19).

These news had flooded the print and electronic media drawing national attention while Union MoHA had extended Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 for another six months in Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts besides areas falling within jurisdiction of Namsai, Mahadevpur and Chowkham police stations in Namsai district and designated as ‘disturbed areas’ u/s  3 of AFSPA..

Visa denial: China’s denial of visa to state’s three women athletes –  Nyeman Wangsu, Onilu Tega and Mepung Lamgu –  by denying accreditation to take part in Asian Games in Hangzhou during September-October last was strongly protested by Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur, who had canceled his visit to the event.

Terming denial of visa to the trio as “unfortunate”, CM Khandu had said “Beijing acted against established diplomatic norms by utter disregard to spirit of sports.

“People of Arunachal Pradesh, an integral part of Bharat, firmly stand by our players and vehemently oppose China’s abominable decision,” Khandu had written on X.

Job termination: Education department terminated services of 256 employees for producing forged and fabricated documents to get jobs. State education commissioner Amjad Tak had issued separate orders terminating their services in various districts after an inquiry committee analyzed alleged irregularities and found that their appointment letters were not issued by elementary education directorate. Irregularities in the appointments of 66 JEs had also surfaced during the year.

Ghost staff: Changlang district administration unearthed non existence “ghost staff” in service drawing salaries in education department sending a shock wave to justify former MP Bakin Pertin’s adage ‘Land of khusi kushi’.

Hump museum: US Ambassador to India Eric Garcetti in November had inaugurated ‘The Hump WW-II Museum’ at East Siang district HQs Pasighat, second museum in Asia, as a tribute to fallen airmen of Allied forces during ‘Hump Operation’ of WW-II, one of the most remarkable feats of aviation history.

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