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

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

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".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.