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The fiasco that almost caught up to the statehood day celebration in Arunachal Pradesh

24 Feb,2023 07:45 PM, by: Posy Lui
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'Your right is your right; until and unless it breaches others' rights'

Arunachal Pradesh just observed its grand celebration of the 37th Statehood Day on February 20, 2023 where India’s first tribal woman President, Droupadi Murmu graced the occasion in Itanagar. On her maiden visit to the state, she was received by Chief Minister Pema Khandu at the newly launched Donyi-Polo Airport (Northeast India’s first Greenfield Airport), in the presence of several eminent dignitaries and officials of the state. The event commemorated the progress made my Arunachal Pradesh and also honoured the unsung heroes of the state who also participated in India’s fight for independence against the Britishers, but remained unmentioned in Indian history up till now. 

Everything about the day went on perfectly, as it must have been planned. Therefore, to those who were not caught up with the latest happenings in the state’s capital, Itanagar, it would come as a shock to learn that just a day prior to the seemingly normal celebration, there was a mass protest followed by a strike, which had just been lifted. 

The protest and strike against the Government were spearheaded by the ‘intellectual aspirants’ under the Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC), with the support of several student unions, and in support of the '13 Charter Demands.'

The 13 Charter Demand states:

  1. The Chairman, Secretary, Members and all other officials of APPSC from 2014 to 2022 must be immediately brought under the purview of the investigation. If any discrepancies are reported, the arrest must be done immediately.
  2. Immediate constitution of Fast Track Court for the prosecution of the accused involved in the APPSC Paper Leakage scam.
  3. Immediate establishment of a State Administrative Tribunal for the grievance of the candidates/aspirants
  4. Immediate endorsement of ED (Enforcement Directorate) and Court-monitored probe and also immediate seizure of assets/properties (movable and immovable) of all the accused and the incumbents of APPSC along with their kiths and kins.
  5. Immediate disclosure of the Status of various Departmental Enquiry (DE) Reports initiated so far against the various suspended or arrested officials and subsequent dismissal/termination thereof.
  6. Immediate disclosure of 3 Members Committee Report.
  7. Suspension of all the upcoming exams till the completion of the investigation process and endorse UPSC to conduct the upcoming examination till the completion of the investigation process.
  8. All the higher officials above the rank of Deputy Secretary must be investigated from 2014 to 2022.
  9. Any examination found to be involved with malpractices like paper leakage scams must be immediately declared null and void
  10. Inclusion of 2 members from the aspirants in the preparation of the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) of APPSC.
  11. Justice for Miss Mudang Yabyang (PWD-deprived candidate) and streamlining of selection criteria for (Persons with Disabilities) candidates.
  12. Justice for Miss Mudang Yabyang (PWD-deprived candidate) and streamlining of selection criteria for (Persons with Disabilities) candidates.
  13. Immediate recalling of the 3 officials posted under APPSC.

Here’s a breakdown of what unfolded, in short - 


In support and immediate effect of the 13 charter demands, on 16th February 2023, a rally was organised to spread notification on an upcoming Indefinite Bandh Call (strike) with immediate effect from 17th February 2023, 5:00 AM sharp till demands were fulfilled. Amidst the process of the bandh call, a chaotic situation ensued between the protesters and law enforcement, due to which, the Capital Complex region suffered an Internet outage which was announced to be executed from 7:00 PM of the 17th Feb to 5:00 PM of 19th February, but the Internet shutdown was lifted the following day.

The Itanagar Capital Region's Internet services had been suspended in order to prevent further occurrence of serious law and order issues during the bandh call issued by the Pan Arunachal Joint Steering Committee (PAJSC), which took a serious turn after the destruction of the police barricades, lathi charge, and firing of tear gas shells. The BSNL mobile internet services as well as those of all other private internet service providers were suspended.


The demand was approved by the state after an extensive meeting on the eve of the 18th of February 2023. Thereafter, the strike was lifted on 19th February.

Although it was a sense of achievement and victory for the protesters, many didn't realise the protest's catastrophic aftermath and general mayhem until the Capital Complex's lockdown and Internet blackout were lifted. Several public and private properties were vandalised and destroyed, many civil laws were broken, whereas some individuals were severely injured. 

From the author’s P.O.V:

From a distant perspective, we had assumed that the participants in a protest for a genuine cause against corruption related to 'EDUCATION' and 'BECOMING OFFICERS', would include a crowd of intellectuals, but the reality was disappointing. 

Some of the protesters rather acted barbaric and wreaked havoc during the protest, by encouraging the destruction of properties, whose actions were recorded and shared on social media. Were these protestors actual aspirants? Hard to say. From their actions, it surely did not seem like, but the reality will sadly remain a mystery. 

Admittedly, the protest did have a positive outcome in terms of the decision taken by the state Government in favour of the demands. However, the nature of protest which amounted to destruction of property and injury to several people, does not look like the way a victory should be seized. After all the fiasco, I’m not so sure if it was a fight for the aggrieved aspirants or had an ulterior motive altogether. 

And if in fact it was purely the case of ensuring justice to the aggrieved aspirants, is it really the way an upcoming officer, who will be responsible for the administration of Arunachal Pradesh, behave? Was the destruction of property and the people that got caught up in the cross-fire worth risking? I would very much like the people affected by the violent uproar come forward with their perspective on the matter. 

Author’s note: This article has been written with the sole purpose of evaluating the nature of protest that unfolded in the state of Arunachal Pradesh over the APPSC paper leak and the appointment of new members of APPSC. It neither supports mass violence & destruction of public properties, nor does it dismisses the grievances of the aspirants. Viewers are requested to engage in healthy discussion over it and avoid forming misconstrued opinions.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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