The Arunachal Pradesh government must reassure its citizens that no blanket measures are being considered any longer in granting permanent citizenship to six non-Arunachal scheduled tribes. The unrest involving mobs on the rampage protesting against the government’s planned move on citizenship hardly befits a sensitive state in the Northeast bordering China. Pema Kundu’s government should have been more mindful of the complex issues over citizenship in a region that has seen much migration of tribal communities in the past six or seven decades. Most of the Northeast was once just Assam, and issues have built up in the four decades since separate states came into existence. The fear large groups of Arunachalis, including students, have harboured is over the proposed citizenship for six communities living along the Arunachal-Assam border compromising the rights and interests of Arunachal’s indigenous people.
The government has done well to clearly state that it will not table the recommendations of a joint high-powered committee in the Assembly, which in any case was adjourned sine die after four days of violence wracked the state last week, as mobs burnt down the deputy CM’s home. There are larger political overtones to the trouble that may have been fomented by the divisive nature of politics in a state where party loyalties have been compromised by the crossover of large groups of legislators, thus denying the sanctity of poll results. Flag marches by an Army infantry regiment earlier this week helped to calm things down and it is time the government communicated its intentions better if peace is to prevail as the state readies to go to the polls again later this year.