The crucial road project that has been mired in controversy will connect remote Chaglagam village to Rocham in Arunachal Pradesh’s Anjaw district

Guwahati: What can be termed as an attempt to ‘gag’ media, Sotai Kri, the former adviser to the Arunachal Pradesh chief minister, called up and allegedly tried to intimidate EastMojo correspondent based in Itanagar on Monday following a report that was published with headline ‘Arunachal: Land mafia near China border risking national security?‘ on November 29.

This is not alone. Tenalum Taflap (45), a villager at Taflagam in Anjaw district, also filed an FIR against five persons, including the EastMojo correspondent in Arunachal Pradesh, at Tezu police station on Sunday for filing the news report.

A screenshot of the news report that was published in EastMojo on November 29, 2019

On Monday, Kri called up Irani Sonowal Lepcha, EastMojo’s state correspondent in Itanagar, and asked her why she carried the news naming him in the report. In the 5.06-minute-long telephonic conversation, Kri also asked Lepcha to disclose her sources for the news report. Despite her repeated pleas not to ask her about the source of her news report, the former adviser to the state chief minister was heard continuously trying to pressure her in disclosing the names.

Also Read: Arunachal: Land mafia near China border risking national security?

During the telephonic call, Kri was also heard telling Irani in broken Assamese (when translated): “You have not done anything good by doing so.”

In its report, EastMojo revealed how an ambitious 9.5-km road project connecting remote Chaglagam to Rocham in Arunachal’s Anjaw district has been mired in controversy which in turn is causing delay in construction.

The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), the executing agency, in 2017 had carried out a land acquisition survey of 3 km (out of the 9.5 km) in the said stretch starting from 6.5 km near Taflagam village till Rocham and an amount of Rs 24 crore as land compensation was estimated and later sanctioned.

However, unfortunately not all of this money reached the actual land owners, thanks to an alleged “signature campaign” run by some vested individuals to gain power of attorney for land compensation from the beneficiaries.

The locals prefer to call these individuals “land compensation mafia”.

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