Two people were killed and six other critically injured on Monday when police fired at agitators who attempted to barge into a police station in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang town demanding immediate release of Buddhist monk and anti-dam activist Lama Lobsang Gyatso.
“Two people succumbed to their injuries and six others were injured after police were forced to opened fire when a mob of people attempted to barge into a police station demanding the release of Lama Lobsang Gyatso,” state Chief Secretary Shakuntala Gamlin said.
She said the injured people were taken to a military hospital for treatment.
“The situation is now under control. District authorities have constituted a peace committee to control the situation,” Gamlin said.
The army staged a flag march at Tawang town to bring the situation under control while prohibitory orders have been clamped in the town.
On Thursday, Gyatso, a monk heading the Save Mon Region Federation, was arrested following a police complaint alleging that he defamed the Tawang Monastery Abbot, Guru Tulku Rinpoche, the spiritual head of the Mon region, by questioning his nationality in an audio clip.
Residents said a large number of people, including Buddhist monks, gathered in Tawang town on Monday where Gyatso was supposed to be presented in a court.
Although the agitators were protesting peacefully, the situation turned hostile when the court rejected Gyatso’s bail plea.
The agitators then laid siege to the Tawang police station and demanded immediate release of the anti-dam activist.
The ‘Save Mon Region Federation’ (SMRF) is opposing hydroelectric power projects in Mon-Tawang region.
After the violence, police again presented Gyatso in court which granted him bail.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Kalikho Pul termed the incident as most unfortunate and said that the loss of lives and injuries to the others was indeed a sad moment in the history of the state. He conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families.
He urged the people of the state to maintain peace.
“There is a need for the peace process to be activated not just at the place of incidence, but also across Tawang and adjacent districts as the issue is a highly emotive one and needs to be handled very compassionately,” he said.
Appealing to the people to uphold peace, Governor J.P. Rajkhowa said Tawang was the “pride of all Arunachalees and crown of Tourism Arunachal”.
“The people of Tawang must rise above personal differences and problems,” he said.
He said Arunachal Pradesh, particularly the Mon region, has always been known for harmony and serenity.
Rajkhowa also pleaded to the lamas and elders to guide the people towards amity and reconciliation.