The Arunachal Pradesh Police on Sunday arrested 24 persons after a group of protestors in Changlang district, bordering Myanmar, burnt a number of government offices and ransacked the local police station on December 11, North East Now reported.

A police team led by Inspector General of Police (law and order) Chuku Apa and Changlang Superintendent of Police Mihin Gambu raided the Hozulu village and arrested the 24 individuals. “The team also seized three muzzle-loaded guns and a .22 caliber air rifle during the raid,” an unidentified police official told the website. “The arrested individuals have been bought to Vijaynagar.”

Violence broke out in Vijaynagar area of Changlang on December 11 after a procession reportedly led by student body All Yobin Students Union, turned violent. The group was opposing the authorities’ decision to extend voting rights to non-indigenous people, primarily the ex-Assam Rifles personnel, – belonging to Scheduled Tribes and settled in the area – in the panchayat elections, according to The Telegraph.

The students’ body demands their removal from Vijaynagar “as soon as possible” on the ground that they are “outsiders” and therefore, should not be given the same rights under the Panchayati Raj as other Scheduled Tribes.

The police said a group of over 400 youths and the public led by the All Yobin Students Union burnt the extra assistant commissioner’s office, post office, and the special bureau branch. They also ransacked the Vijaynagar police station around 8.30 am. The protestors were armed with daos (machetes), lathis and bows and arrows and were shouting “hamari mange puri karo [fulfil our demands]”.

Changlang Deputy Commissioner Devansh Yadav told The Telegraph that no casualties or injuries were reported.

“Since connectivity in the area is poor, we have flown down reinforcements by choppers from Miao town, around 150km away,” Yadav added. “We have requisitioned two choppers which will continue to send reinforcements, including additional CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force] platoons. Two magistrates on special duty have been stationed at Vijayanagar to deal with any situation.”

Inspector General of Police (law and order) Apa told North East Now that the situation was contained by Monday. “The situation at present is under control and the administration and security forces are doing their best to maintain law and order in the area,” she said.

Four first information reports were registered against specific individuals based on local information and videographic evidence. A video that is being widely circulated on social media purportedly shows Ngwazaso Yobin, the president of All Yobin Students’ Union, claiming responsibility for the violence.

Several student bodies in Arunachal Pradesh have launched a campaign against the enrolment of Scheduled Tribes who are not from Arunachal Pradesh in the local elections’ voter list.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union had earlier this month demanded a ban on non-tribal and non-indigenous people from participating in the panchayat and municipal polls, saying it was an unacceptable intrusion into the rights of the ethnic people of the state.

Panchayat and municipal elections were initially scheduled for December 22, but had to be postponed in light of the protests.

AAPSU urges government to take incident seriously

Meanwhile, the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union has called upon the state government to “take seriously” the matter related to the conferment of Panchayati rights to non-indigenous members of the state, reported PTI.

In a statement, the group said that while it does not encourage or advocate any forms of violence as seen in Vijaynagar on December 11, the state government “is majorly responsible for the escalation of the problem in the area as it was not being reciprocative to the sentiments of the Yobin community”.

“There is a need for self-retrospection and soul searching on the part of the authorities as to why the members of the Yobin community were compelled to take such extreme measures,” the AAPSU said.

It said that the Yobin community has been agitating and resorting to peaceful democratic protests against the inclusion of settlers and non-Arunachalees under the Panchayati Raj system for many years. “The government should view the issue seriously and immediately take up AAPSU’s previous demand for the amendment of Arunachal Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act, 1997,” the union said.