The first International Itanagar Film Festival has been shelved following mob violence that resulted in several vehicles at the festival venue being set ablaze, as well as the instruments of several musicians being damaged. The violence was a result of the issue of Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) by the state government of Arunachal Pradesh to six non-tribal communities from outside the state.
The incident took place on Friday, 22 February, which was the opening day of the festival. The three-day festival was being held at the Indira Gandhi Park in Itanagar.
Among the films screened at the festival were Uri: The Surgical Strike (which was being screened in the popular cinema section), and Rima Das’s Bulbul Can Sing. Another Assamese film III Smoking Barrels was scheduled to be the closing film of the festival.
However, on the opening day, a mob ran through the festival venue, torching the inflatable cinema halls, a portable generator and several musical instruments belonging to the artistes. More than 50 filmmakers and artists from across the country were evacuated from the location before the festival was called off. Director-actor Satish Kaushik was among the many present.
Following the fracas, which also led to some of the protestors heading to the chief minister’s residence, the army was called in to do a flag march and restore order in the region. So far, three people have been killed, and over 35 people injured in the protests across the state.