Skip to main content

Anti-dam activists killed in Arunachal: Protest against arrest of Buddhist campaigner against hydro projects

By Our Representative
At least two anti-dam activists were killed in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh on May 2, allegedly because of “machinations” by pro hydro-lobby and mismanagement by the police. They were protesting against the arrest of Lama Lobsang Gyatso, who has been organizing villagers against “destructive” hydropower projects in Tawang.
Well-known environmentalist Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asian Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP), quoting sources in Arunachal Pradesh, has said “there are unconfirmed reports that four people, including a Buddhist Lama, have been killed.”
Lama Lobsang Gyatso is secretary of the Save Mon Region Federation (SMRF), an organisation of the Monpa community in the Mon-Tawang region of Arunachal Pradesh, spear-headed by Buddhist Lamas. “The group has been advocating socio-culturally and ecologically sensitive development in the Mon-Tawang region of Arunachal Pradesh”, says Thakkar in a social media post.
“This has included protesting against ecologically destructive hydropower projects, demanding accountability in execution government schemes and development projects, as well as exposing corruption”, he adds.
The incident happened against the backdrop of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on April 7, 2016 suspending environmental clearance of the 780 MW Nyamjang Chhu project in response to an appeal filed by the Save Mon Region Federation.
The NGT had asked for a fresh impact assessment studies, public hearing for local people and appraisal by the expert appraisal committee on river valley and hydroelectric projects and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
“A major issue was the impact on the wintering habitat of the black-necked crane, a vulnerable bird, considered sacred by the Buddhist Monpa community, considered an embodiment of the 6th Dalai Lama, who was from Tawang and wrote about the bird in his poetry”, says Thakkar.
On April 26, Lama Lobsang Gyatso was first arrested for allegedly leading a group of people from Gongkhar village, where the 6 MW Mukto Shakangchu project is coming up. The SMRF is opposed to reconstruction of spillway of the small project, as it says that work quality has been compromised.
He was arrested based on FIR filed by the Personel security officer of local MLA Pema Khandu for disruption of peace but was soon left on bail. On April 28, Lobsang Gyatso was arrested for his "critical" comments against Guru Rinpoche, the Abbot of Tawang Monastery.
“There was apparently an audio clip circulated on social media in which Lobsang Gyatso had asked the Abbot to stay away from the hydropower politics of Tawang since he was an outsider and would not be able to relate to the issues”, says Thakkar, adding, “According to Lobsang Gyatso he received a death threat from one of the local leaders.” .
“Since the second arrest of Lobsang Gyatso, lay people and lamas have been pouring out asking for his release. The opponents have also held meetings and rallies”, Thakkar says, adding, “Since this morning (Monday, May 2) lay people and lamas had poured out in large numbers to support Lobsang Gyatso and press for his release.”
“He was taken for his bail hearing and returned without getting it. He was brought back and secretly taken in from the back door of the police station bypassing the protestors in the front. When people moved toward the police station to protest they were fired upon”, Thakkar says.
“Apparently no tear gas or rubber bullets were used. One of the deceased has got a bullet in his forehead”, Thakkar says, adding, After the firing leading to death of at least two and many injured, Lobsang Gyatso was given bail.”

Comments

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

How green revolution led to 'deterioration' of Punjab economy, land, air and water

By Dr Gian Singh*  A recent research paper, based on a survey of 320 farming families in four districts of Punjab, has tried to show that high crop densities and the use of inputs have led to degradation of land, air, water and humans through a rich agricultural structure. Although mechanization has increased agricultural productivity, it has also caused environmental degradation.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Abysmal deficit of water, food waste recycle treatment 'impacting' Chennai life

By Simi Mehta*  We are living in a state where the most basic needs like food and water are not assured to the people residing in the urban areas, which account for the biggest sources of food and water wastage. Socio-economic inequality in society which is pervasive in urban areas is one of the main reasons for this.