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SC serves notice to Arunachal govt on police firing deaths in Tawang

SC serves notice to Arunachal govt on police firing deaths in Tawang
Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh. Photo:
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~By Rajesh Kumar

A Buddhist Lama of Tawang Monastery in Arunachal Pradesh, Lobsang Gyatso, and another person were killed and several others seriously injured in an alleged police firing on unarmed protesters on May 2, 2016.

An inquiry commission was set up which has submitted its report. The report states that 380 rounds of ammunition were fired from different weapons, and “after the firing incident, the police requested all the magistrates to give firing order ex-post facto to regularize the firing.”

The report had concluded that the police firing was “unjustified as the police force had failed to follow all the standard operating procedures,” and recommended that “investigation into the matter should be handed over to an independent agency.”

This issue has come to the Supreme Court and is being heard by a bench headed by Justice J Chelameswar.

On April 19, the bench issued notice to the government of Arunachal Pradesh on behalf of the petitioner, the sister of the deceased Tsering Tempa and the father of the deceased Nima Wangdi. The case is being argued for the petitioners by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves.

Counsel Gonsalves argued that the government never handed over the investigation to the police and consequently, no progress was made by the local police even after 10 months of the firing incident.

The petitioners stated that the incident created widespread disquiet throughout the state, which has deepened on account of total inaction of both the state and central governments and not one  among the “guilty” has been arrested to date.

The petition also states that Lama Lobsang Gyatso, 36, a resident of Tawang, had been working for the past four years among the poor people of Tawang district, particularly on issues relating to dams and displacement and acquisition of the lands of poor farmers.

He had also been campaigning against massive corruption in the state both by the government and private companies, for example, in road projects. The petition states that Lama Gyatso had declared that he would submit a PIL on the malfunctioning of Hydroelectric Projects seeking a CBI inquiry. A newly-built project—Mukto Shakang Chu—had collapsed within three months of its commissioning.

Earlier, a writ petition was filed before the Gauhati High Court, but withdrawn with the liberty to file a fresh petition, as such at present no court seized with this matter.

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