Shillong: Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh was in the news after police fired at an anti-dam crowd that was peacefully protesting against the hydel power projects in ecologically fragile Tawang as they will cause major environmental disasters. It took the army to bring down the temperatures in the area even as 144 CrPC has been enforced. A one-man enquiry committee was reportedly formed with Development Commissioner Hage Kojeen to investigate the firing incident.
Two people died in Tawang on Monday (May 2) when police fired at protestors demanding the release of Lama Lobsang Gyatso, General Secretary of the Save Mon Region Federation, spearheading the anti-hydro power movement in Mon Region, from police custody.At least seven people are reported to be seriously injured because of indiscriminate police firing. The Army has been called in to control further escalation of violence.
Speaking to a section of the media, DGP, N. Payeng, said police resorted to firing after they were attacked by the protesters, numbering around 1500, many of them Lamas and Anis as they seized the police station to secure the release of Lama Lobsang. He also said that tear gas was lobbed at the protestors to warn them not to enter the Police station. But eye witnesses say police opened indiscriminate firing, just after they lathi charged as some of the protestors had entered the police station to take the detained Lama out.
The state government has ordered an official enquiry into the firing incident.
Deputy Chief Minister Kameng Dolo, who is also the Home Minister, said his government will initiate action after a thorough enquiry. He left for Tawang on Tuesday to take stock of the situation.
Payeng said that action against police who resorted to violence will be taken after a magisterial and police enquiry. When asked about the officer who ordered the shooting, he refused to divulge names.
The Tawang Police is headed by IPS officer Anto Alphonse.
Speaking to the media Lama Lobsang Gyatso, who was later released from police custody said police need not have used unnecessary force. He said they could have warned the protestors instead of resorting to indiscriminate firing.
Gyatso was arrested on April 28, for questioning the nationality of the Abbot of Tawang Monastery. On April 26, Lama Lobsang Gyatso was arrested for leading a group of people from Gongkhar village where the 6 MW Mukto Shakangchu project is coming up.
The villagers had opposed the reconstruction of spillway of the small project as they say that work quality has been compromised. He was arrested based on FIR filed by the Personnel security officer of local MLA Pema Khandu for disruption of peace. He was later let out on bail.
On April 28, Lobsang Gyatso was rearrested for his comments against Guru Rinpoche, the Abbot of Tawang Monastery and defaming the Abbot following an FIR filed by ZPM Lobsang Youten.
Environmental activists keeping watch on the recent National Green Tribunal ruling against hydro power development in Tawang. however, attribute the arrest of Gyatso to his anti-dam movement.
Vijay Taram, the spokesperson of Forum for Siang dialogue, an organization opposed to hydro power projects, while reacting to police atrocity said “the govt has used force on protestors, who were demanding the release of a known and vocal crusader against construction of hydro power projects in ecologically sensitive Tawang”.
The government is disrespecting a peaceful movement against large scale hydro projects by resorting to violence and the police atrocities that visited the protestors on May 2 is unprecedented in the history of the state, said Vijay Taram, adding that the crusade will continue and govt must fix accountability on those officers and administrators who ordered the killing of unarmed protestors.
On April 7, the National Green Tribunal had suspended the environmental clearance of the 780 MW Nyamjang Chhu project in response to an appeal filed by the Save Mon Region Federation. The Tribunal had asked for a fresh impact assessment studies, public hearing and appraisal by the Expert Appraisal Committee on River Valley & Hydroelectric projects and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Tuesday urged the State Government to immediately start the process of dialogue to restore peace and normalcy in Tawang.
He asked the Tawang Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police to take stock of the situation.
He also discussed the situation with Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary.
The Union Minister suggested for constitution of a high level ‘Peace Committee’ comprising representatives from all sections of the society to initiate the process of dialogue and restore normalcy in the district.
Arunachal Pradesh Governor, JP Rajkhowa, while welcoming a judicial probe into the firing incident, appealed to all including the pro as well as anti-dam sections to maintain peace and communal harmony and resolve all differences by sitting across the table. He also appealed to the people not to take law into their hands and cooperate with law enforcing authorities to maintain public peace and order.