Indian state Arunachal Pradesh tense after two killed in protests against outsiders

Pema Khandu, chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, at a meeting of community based organisations, youths organisations, student unions on Feb 25, 2019.
Pema Khandu, chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, at a meeting of community based organisations, youths organisations, student unions on Feb 25, 2019.PHOTO: TWITTER/PEMAKHANDUBJP

GUWAHATI, India (AFP) - India sent 1,000 paramilitary reinforcements to a tense north-eastern state and bolstered other security measures on Monday (Feb 25) after two people were killed by police firing in a protest against moves to give residency rights to outsiders, officials said.

Authorities also cut mobile internet services and blocked SMS messages in the Arunachal Pradesh state capital Itanagar and other badly hit regions amid fears of new unrest.

Violence broke out on Friday during protests by groups opposed to a reported plan to give permanent resident certificates to some tribes who have been established in the state for decades.

The protests spread and government properties and vehicles around Itanagar were attacked.

One crowd threw stones and ransacked the residence of the state deputy chief minister last Sunday and were marching on the chief minister Pema Khandu's residence when police opened fire, killing two people.

Khandu sought Monday to ease the anger, saying the government was not moving forward with the proposal that would make six tribal groups eligible for quotas of jobs and college places reserved for locals.

"We will not take up the issue of issuing permanent resident cards to non-Arunachal Pradesh scheduled tribes," Khandu, who is from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), told journalists.

India's remote north-eastern region is home to many indigenous tribes and communities as well as lingering insurgencies.

Groups are fighting for more autonomy, additional social protections or just to undermine rival tribes.

North-eastern states saw widespread opposition to a controversial law that would give Indian nationality to Hindus, Christians and other minorities who had faced persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The legislation was passed by the lower house of Parliament in January but was withdrawn by the government after angry protests.