Autonomy demands raise hackles in Arunachal Pradesh

The renewed demand for creation of autonomous councils in the two extremes of Arunachal Pradesh – Mon Autonomous Region (MAR) in the west and Patkai Autonomous Council (PAC) in the east – has raised hackles among conservatives in the frontier State.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) and the Nyishis, one of the largest ethnic communities that inhabit the areas in between, have slammed the demands.

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The Nyishi Elite Society (NES) has blamed Chief Minister Pema Khandu for “orchestrating and patronising” the MAR movement that seeks the autonomous council comprising Tawang and West Kameng districts. Tawang is Mr Khandu’s home turf.

The organisations have also sniffed external designs behind these demands. While MAR is seen as an “encouragement for China” to be more vocal about claims over Arunachal Pradesh, the Isak-Muivah faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) is believed to be fuelling the PAC movement to eventually make the Patkai region comprising Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts a part of “Greater Nagalim”.

All factions of the NSCN are active in the areas under the proposed PAC. Six members of NSCN’s Isak-Muivah faction were killed in an encounter with the armed forces in this region on July 11.

“The 60-member Arunachal Pradesh Assembly had in 2004 adopted a resolution for the creation of autonomous district councils of Tawang and West Kameng along with that of Tirap, Changlang and Longding. We have reminded the government of the lack of any follow-up action,” said a spokesperson of the MAR Demand Committee.

The committee has called for tripartite talks with the Central and the State governments and could boycott the upcoming panchayat elections if its demand is not looked into.

“The demand for MAR and PAC is bound to open the floodgates for similar movements from various parts of the State. The socio-political realities do not allow such regions, more so when specific departments have been created for them,” AAPSU general secretary Tobom Dai said.

The NES went a step further, accusing Mr Khandu of stirring the autonomy movement.

“Unfortunately, the motivated movement is being orchestrated and patronised by Pema Khandu himself who is supposed to thwart all attempts of disintegration as he is the Chief Minister of the State and not of the Mon region,” the society said in a statement.

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