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Violence started in Itanagar on Friday over the state government's move to give Permanent Resident certificates to six tribes and Gorkhas living in Namsai and Changlang districts. The tribes, though living in the two districts for decades, do not belong to Arunachal Pradesh. They are originally from Assam and do not even have land rights in Arunachal Pradesh.
A Permanent Resident certificate is usually required for admission to educational institutions under domicile-specific quota and it also allows them to enter tribal lands without special permits. There are concerns that if the government carries through the plan, it will compromise the interests of the indigenous residents of the state.
This afternoon, despite the curfew and army presence on the streets, an angry mob stormed the private residence of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, ransacked it and set it on fire. They also torched a number of vehicles parked in the compound of his office.
Soon, the police had to fight off a mob attempting to target the private residence of Chief Minister Pema Khandu. Unconfirmed reports said many were injured in the clash. A shopping complex and business establishment belonging to other ministers and political leaders were also attacked.
Mobs vandalized various government establishments, including the offices of the Deputy Commissioner, Superintendent of Police and the Itanagar police station.
The violence started on Friday during a 48-hour shutdown by students as it led to a clash between the police and stone-throwing protesters. A man who tried to enter the civil secretariat died in the firing, another suffered a bullet injury in his leg. Several security personnel and protesters were also injured in clashes that broke out in Naharlagun.
"The situation is very tense and uncontrollable. The state is taking all steps to calm the situation," Home Minister Kumar Waii was quoted as saying by news agency IANS. On Saturday, Union minister Rajnath Singh had appealed for calm.
The protests forced the government to stop tabling a report on the matter in the state assembly on Friday. The report was from a Joint High Powered Committee headed by Environment and Forest Minister Nabam Rebia. The protesters contend that the committee had failed to verify facts.
After an urgent cabinet meeting this evening, the government issued a statement that said: "Considering the present situation in respect of the matter pertaining to grant of PRC to non APST residents of Namsai and Changlang districts, the state government has decided that no further action shall be taken".
Union minister Kiren Rijiju, who accused the Congress of instigating the people, tweeted: "Arunachal Pradesh State Govt has already passed an order not to accept PRC as recommended by JHPC. Everyone must come together without blaming each other for the sake of peace. It's very unfortunate that innocent lives were lost in the violence."