Dollungmukh protests demanding shifting of IAF bombing zone

Dollungmukh protests demanding shifting of IAF bombing zone


DOLLUNGMUKH, June 12: The people of Dollungmukh circle under Kamle district of Arunachal Pradesh bordering Assam today carried out a massive protest against the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s bombing zone at Dollungmukh area which is threatening the very existence of life and property of the locals living in the vicinity due to bombing exercises being carried by the IAF’s fighter aircrafts.

Holding banners, placards and national flags, hundreds of slogan-shouting local people of the area carried out a peace march to the IAF’s aircraft firing range at Dollungmukh before staging a dharna at the local office of the IAF near the firing range in protest against the “indiscriminate bombing practices in the area by IAF without caring for the human settlement”.

The villagers living adjacent to the bombing range have, over the period of time, been demanding shifting of the same fearing threat to their lives and properties.

The matter is being raised by villagers time and again with the most recent ones taken up with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her visit to Itanagar on May 29 and during a hearing of the National Human Rights Commission in Itanagar on May 25.

Today’s protest came in days after a village man from Ruyu village, Bini Todum, a retired jawan of Sashashtra Seema Bal had on June 8 sustained serious injuries during a routine bombing exercise involving Sukhoi-30 fighter plane, following which the IAF had ordered a court of inquiry, and reported killing of six mithuns (Bos frontalis) in IAF bombings a few days back.

Todum, who suffered multiple fractures after being hit by the shrapnel, had to be evacuated to Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (TRIHMS) at Naharlagun after giving preliminary treatment at the NHPC-run dispensary at Gerukamukh.

Social activist Bini Ranjan while talking to the reporters alleged that the IAF, which had signed a lease agreement in 1968 (same was reviewed in 1975) without informing the public of Dollungmukh and Govt of Arunachal Pradesh, is doing like war situations. It’s a terrible situation and we are feeling uncomfortable to survive.

In 1992, he cited one of our locals Bini Tabom had to sacrifice his life, and no compensation has been given to late Tadom’s family members. Many dwelling houses, cattle and pet animals have been destroyed due to drills and bombing exercises by the AIF fighter planes which take off from Tezpur air base in Assam.

The IAF is doing its drills in between 11 villages, threatening the very existence of the 10,000 plus indigenous population of the area. “This is just a beginning. If the state and central governments do not stop or initiate process for shifting of the dangerous bombing zone from the residential area, we shall resort to rigorous democratic movement in future,” added Ranjan.

When asked about the court of inquiry by the IAF, he said that “we are not satisfied with this…we want immediate shifting of the bombing zone from the residential area”.

Dollungmukh Area Welfare Forum (DAWF) chairman Er Rotom Tebin pointed that the matter of shifting can only be done by the Central Govt but the State Govt has to start the process for consideration of the genuine demand, considering safety and security of people’s life and property.

We have submitted memorandum to Chief Minister Pema Khandu with a copy of same to the Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju during the inauguration of newly created Kamle district on December 15, 2017. Another memorandum was again submitted to MoS Rijiju on the occasion of Boori Boot festival at Dollungmukh. We did not stop here but submitted another memorandum to Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman during her recent visit to Itanagar, to stop the bombing and routine exercises by IAF but no fruitful result has been received so far, due to which we have to come to the streets for our safety and security.

All Kamle District Students’ Union (AKDSU) vice president Bini Noga said we have high expectation from our leader Kiren Rijiji holding an important portfolio at the Centre. He should have understood the pains being taken up by the local indigenous people of his constituency. Our younger generation and youths are becoming handicapped due to sound and air pollution. What would be the future of us, the youths and generation next if such situation arises again and again? We cannot live in such a situation and have to fight for our right for safety of future of the area and its people.

He said we also want to live a normal life on this earth but not in this way. The IAF bombing zone must go for the betterment and safety of the local citizens of the Dollungmukh area as well as people living on either sides of Assam-Arunachal border.

Noga also demanded Govt should immediately pay compensation to the victim of June 8 bombing exercise.

The protesters included local villagers, former PRI members, members of DAWF, All Dollungmukh Area Students’ Union (ADASU) and Dollungmukh Area Youth Association (DAYA), among others.

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