Itanagar: Phawang Lowang, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) candidate for the Khonsa West constituency in the Assembly elections held in Arunachal Pradesh earlier this year, said on Sunday that nobody can stop underground elements from entering Tirap.
Tirap, along with Longding and Changlang, forms a part of the notorious ‘TLC’ area that has been declared “disturbed” by the Central government due to the insurgency issue tormenting the region for a long time.
During a press conference held at Arunachal Press Club in Itanagar, when questioned about why Lowang is not vocal about insurgency and all the underground groups prevalent in the TLC area — like slain MLA Tirong Aboh was — Lowang said that it was a “personal” matter.
He also refuted allegations about his association with the Naga Army (Ollo) and said such an organisation does not exist.
Lowang was the lone candidate against slain MLA Tirong Aboh for the Khonsa West Assembly constituency in the state elections held earlier this year. Gunmen believed to belong to a Naga extremist group had gunned down Aboh, along with 10 others, two days before the results for the Assembly elections were announced and Aboh retained his seat on a National People’s Party ticket.
A few days ago, the Naga Army (Ollo) had in a leaflet asked the people to either vote for Lowang or face dire consequences. Besides warning, the group also threatened any political party or group that would contest against him in the bye-election from Khonsa West.
Lowang said that the notice circulated in the name of Naga Army (Ollo) was politically motivated and he has lodged an FIR against the organisation at Laju police station.
“I do not need to pressure my people to cast votes for me as the people support me,” he said, adding that the “cheap act” by the group was to malign his image. He also said that the Aboh’s assassination was not politically motivated.
Lowang requested the slain MLA’s widow, Chakat Aboh, to refrain from dragging his name with the self-styled Naga organisation and in the assassination of her husband or NPP party worker Jalley Anna.
“I have always been supportive in the investigation to find out the people behind the assassination. I had in a memorandum to the state governor even sought faster probe,” he said.
However, Lowang doubted Aboh’s contacts. He requested the state government and the district administration to find out the background of the people standing in a picture with Aboh in camouflage during the last election campaign in the constituency.
Lowang also said that the problem the people of the TLC areas are facing from the underground elements can never be controlled. But the state government and the people of the area can together minimise the problem, he felt.
He denied having connection with any leader of the underground groups active in the area.
Meanwhile, Chakat Aboh, wife of slain MLA Tirong Aboh, said: ”On 29th march 2019, Jaley Anna and Khamney Aboh, both NPP workers from Kheti village were picked up and beaten up. Jaley died while Khamney is still under treatment. Four masked men, the kidnappers, came in a Tata Sumo car that bore a BJP flag. So, how come Jaley and Tirong’s killing are not political?”
Lowang said that I am defaming him and BJP. However, it’s he who has defamed BJP, Chakat added.
Further, when Jaley Anna breathed his last, his last words clearly said that the reason for his death was Moliam Khoisia, who was the election agent of Phawang Lowang. Moliam and Jaley are from the same village, Kheti.
She also said that Lowang termed May 21 massacre as non-political, rather a personal enmity. “If so, why he was not killed earlier and killers wait for a day before the counting?” she questioned.
“What does he mean by ‘nobody can stop the UGs’? If he is so concerned about this social menace, why wait to become an MLA. He was a church leader earlier with degree in theology. Why can’t he work through a church or NGO to chase away those non state actors?” suggested Chakat Aboh.
Most of the statements in the conference are absurd and without any reference to ground reality, she added.