Buddhist Monk Among Two Dead In Police Firing In Arunachal Over Tawang Dam Issue

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3:03 pm 3 May, 2016

A Buddhist monk was among two persons killed in police firing in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday. Eight others were injured in the firing.

Reports said that the police fired when anti-dam activists tried to barge into a police station where a monk was been kept in detention. It is not clear if the monk who died in the firing was the one who was in prison.

 

Anti-dam activists in Tawang. ANI

Anti-dam activists in Tawang. ANI

Arrested on April 28, the monk, Lama Lobsang Gyatso, headed the Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF), a group that has been protesting the construction of a hydro power dam in Arunachal Pradesh since 2012.

He was arrested on charges of insulting the Abbot of the Tawang Monastery Guru Tulku Rinpoche.

What is the dam issue?

Hundreds of monks and other activists have been protesting the construction of a dam in the district alleging that it will destroy the ecology and the culture of the region.

 

Buddhist monks protesting the construction of the hydro-electric dam in Tawang. URMI BHATTACHARJEE

Buddhist monks protesting the construction of the hydro-electric dam in Tawang. URMI BHATTACHARJEE

Their contention is that the government has done nothing to maintain the smaller hydro-electric dams that were enough to provide electricity. It is because of the ill-maintained dams that the region witnesses frequent power cuts – a serious problem in the cold terrains of Arunachal.


SMRF says that many of the proposed dam construction sites threaten Buddhist religious places in Tawang.

 

The army was called in to handle the situation. ANI

The army was called in to handle the situation. ANI

People in this part of the country venerate flora and fauna. Buddhists believe that the black-necked crane is an embodiment of the Dalai Lama himself. The monks say that the construction of the dams in this part will destroy the natural habitat of the crane.

What is the government doing?

Chief Minister Kalikho Pul of the ruling People’s Party of Arunachal announced Rs.5 lakh ex-gratia compensation to the family of the deceased. He has also ordered a magisterial inquiry.

Union MoS for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who is an MP from Arunachal West, suggested constituting a high level peace committee involving members of all those concerned about the construction of the dam.

 

Tawang Map

 

Tawang is the smallest of the 19 districts in Arunachal Pradesh. It borders China to the north and Bhutan to the west. As of now, Sec 144 of the CrPC has been imposed on Tawang town while the Army staged a flag march.

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