From ANYA's 36 Hours Bandh to probable 48 Hours on 18th: Report
By Asin Charu
ITANAGAR: The ANYA enforced 36 hours bandh call crippled normal lives in ICR and its encompassing areas. The bandh commenced on 13th January 5:00 am up till 14th January 5:00 pm. Internet services remained shut by respective Internet Service Providers (ISP), excluding Reliance Jio Fibre connection. Therewithal most businesses remained dysfunctional despite security assurance from the District Magistrate and the deployed police personnel on assigned duty.
The Arunachal Pradesh Police (APP), District Administration, Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were exceptionally cautious in their monitoring and co-ordination throughout the 36 hours duration; operating to prevent probable fueling of dire law-and-order situation in the state.
On 10th January 2022, ANYA executive members announced the 36 hours bandh. It may be recalled from previous press briefings that, on 10th December 2021, ANYA (All Nyishi Youth Association) sought a 15 days ultimatum addressed to the Chief Minister’s office regarding various corruption charges put forth against Chief Minister Pema Khandu, failing which an extension of 7 days had been added to the ultimatum dated 30th December 2021, seeking immediate resignation of Shri Pema Khandu from the post of Chief Minister. The CM had allegedly failed responding to the queries forwarded in the letter which apparently led to the declaration of bandh call within short notice by ANYA.
Deputy Commissioner ICR Talo Potom had then taken heed of the situation and called in for a peaceful talk with ANYA the following day on 11 January 2022. The ANYA executives arrived at DC office for peaceful discussion, but on learning of the president’s absence, another meeting was scheduled by the DC the same day at 2:00 pm.
Several Press briefings stormed social media platforms: from ANYA’s parental body, Nyishi Elite Society (NES), to the sitting of 14 Nyishi legislators, SASI (Save Arunachal, Save Indigenous) and a few more. That said, Home Minister and Government Spokesperson Bamang Felix on January 11, 2022, addressed the media in attempts to clarify allegations charged against the Chief Minister.
In response, the District Magistrate passed an order declaring the bandh as, "illegal" and "unlawful" activity prohibited under the law, conferring to Section 144 Cr. P.C. r/w the Arunachal Pradesh unlawful activities (Prevention Act) 2014.
Press briefing: Arunachal Pradesh Police (APP)
In the evening of 15th January, 2022, Arunachal Pradesh Police (APP), called for a press conference at Arunachal Press Club (APC) to disseminate updates on the bandh call. Chukhu Apa (IPS): IGP, L&O, APP, marked:
“First time in the history of Arunachal Bandh culture were 15 anti-nationals from the neighboring state involved.”
He pinpointed the involvement of hired activists from Dhemaji and Lakhimpur from the bordering state Assam, alongside people from districts in Arunachal: Lower Siang, East Siang, East Kameng, Kra Daadi, Kurung Kumey and Lower Dibang Valley. ANYA however have refuted all claims made by APP.
The bandh callers were believed to have been bribed with cash and other promises to participate in the agitation. Following an advanced intel, the APP managed to seize money worth 3 Lakhs from the residences of the agitators. IGP Chukhu Apa informed, 7 lakhs from the total 10 lakhs bribe money had already been spent in logistics and only the remaining 3 lakhs could be retrieved.
During the course of 36 hours, no property damages or any loss of life was reported. However, one close arson attempt at the Directorate of Food and Civil Supply office in Papu Nallah, Naharlagun, was recorded whereby 2 people were arrested and a case was registered under Papu Nallah police station.
More than 100 people were detained. Official reports stated, 25 from Itanagar and 6 from Naharlagun were booked under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). Besides 2 from Itanagar and 26 from Naharlagun were arrested under other laws and the rest under regular cases.
Moreover, half the detainees were released and 25 others shifted to central jail in Jollang, Itanagar, out of which 1 was detected covid positive. 6 from Naharlagun were shifted to Pasighat jail in East Siang district for a span of 12 days. Juvenile detainees were dealt accordingly under Juvenile law.
The IGP briefed the media on grave conspiracies mapped by advance intelligence. It was informed that vital installations in the ICR, bridges and important landmarks were targeted. Another conspiracy is that of importing lethal weapons to the state, all of which is subject to further investigation, he informed.
ANYA president Byabang Joram while addressing the media yesterday appealed the District Magistrate and the concerned authorities to release the people who were arrested under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) during the course of 36 hours bandh call.
“Right from the inception, our motto has been that of a democratic movement and we will continue to do so,” he implied.
Around noon yesterday, ANYA Vice President Temi Pabo was arrested near Yazali Gate on his way to Raga under UAPA and was later shifted to Naharlagun Police Station.
Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) on Internet Suspension
Meantime, Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) Vice President, Toko Mina briefed the media on internet suspension:
“The current BJP-led government in Arunachal has ‘abused’ their administrative power and authority beyond limit, by ‘harassing’ the public; the netizens of the ICR by suspending internet services.”
During the course of 36 hours bandh, the education sector, the health sector and the business sectors were inordinately disrupted.
The documentary by TheSpace titled, “Beneath ANYA’s 36 Hours Bandh Call” uncovered first hand documentation of the 2-days bandh, in attempts to unfold the underlying truth, veiled by the shadows of bandh culture in state.
Back to the topic of internet suspension, the district magistrate passed an order dated 12, January 2022, declaring shut down of internet services from 5pm of 12th January, 2022 to 5pm of 14th January, 2022, which the netizens felt, ‘contradicted’ the curtailment of fundamental rights under article 19 of the Indian Constitution, thereby disruption of dissemination of information by media.
Law pertaining to internet shutdowns in India dictates, the competent authority that can issue such orders are the Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs (Central Government), the Secretary of the Home Department to the concerned State Government (State Government).
According to these guidelines, no order to suspend telecom services can be issued without the authorization of the aforementioned authorities. Rule 2(1) states that the order to suspend telecom services be issued in accordance with the provided rules and procedures.
This may clarify that, no order suspending telecom services may be issued under any provision of the law, including Section 144 of the CrPC 1973.
However, in unavoidable circumstances, an officer with the rank of Joint Secretary or above who has been legally authorized by the Union Home Secretary or State Home Secretary may issue such an order.
Even so, there is no prescribed technique for determining a condition as “inevitable” under the Telegraph Rules, Telegraph Act, or any other laws or court of law rulings.
ICR DC Talo Potom however, have exemplified past incidents to justify the decision of District Magistrate on shut down of internet services:
“Extending back to the PRC issue, to the sequential happenings till date. It is a known fact that many denizens have lost their lives under the tag of ‘riots’ and ‘bandhs’ of which the magistrate has kept detailed analysis and records. The cardinal role, social media has played on such adversities is undeniable and its perimeters cannot be taken lightly. Social media platforms like WhatsApp, may pose an easy portal for false propaganda and misinformation which have in the past ignited numerous casualties and property damages.”
“The decision is purely in the best interest of the public and a step towards eradicating bandh culture from the state,” he added, appealing the general public to stay consistent with their cooperation.
APCC Vice President Toko Mina while briefing the media, questioned the DC’s move on internet suspension. Mina questioned if a committee meeting was held upfront before passing the regulatory order, as the law dictates constituting proper committee meeting and undertaking thorough discussions prior.
The DC apprised, all official paper works and matters pertaining to internet suspension was in compliance with the order issued by the Home department on recommendation of the Police department.
Further, around 8 pm last night, ANYA via a local media--Arunbhoomi declared a 48 hours bandh call w.e.f from 18th January 2022, demanding immediate release of the detainees.
In response, around 10 pm last night, the DC passed a circular which read: a meeting under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary, government of Arunachal Pradesh will be held on 16th January, 2022 at Civil Secretariat today.
The said meeting is underway, till the filing of this report.