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Arunachal CM till July 13, Kalikho Pul found dead, tension prevails in Itanagar

Former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister and Congress rebel Kalikho Pul, who stepped down from the top post on July 13 last month after the Supreme Court ordered removal of his government, allegedly committed suicide.

As soon as the news of Pul’s death spread, scores of his supporters’ gheraoed current Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s bungalow in Niti Bihar area and demanded a probe into Pul’s “unnatural” death. They also set on fire an under-construction building of the Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein and damaged two official bungalows.

Pul, 47, was found hanging from a ceiling fan at his official residence. Incumbent Deputy Chief Minister confirmed that Pul had committed suicide.

“We have also recovered a suicide note from the room where the former Chief Minister committed suicide. I am not in a position to divulge much at this moment,” said a senior police official.

“The body was found hanging around 9 am by a servant. He may have committed suicide on Monday night itself,” DGP Arunachal Pradesh S Nithianandam told.

Preliminary investigation did not reveal any foul play. Police have taken possession of the body and sent it for post mortem.

The 47-year-old, who held the CM’s post for about five months, had left office last month after a Supreme Court ruling ordered removal of his government. But he hadn’t vacated his official residence.

“It is sad and really unfortunate that young leader Kalikho Pul is no more with us,” said ex-CM Nabam Tuki. “A loss for entire Arunachal Pradesh. The Congress family is with his family in this moment of grief.”

Hundreds of people, including supporters of Pul, took to the streets as news of the suicide went viral and shouted slogans against the present government led by Chief Minister Pema Khandu.

Pul held the unique distinction of being the first Congress chief minister to be installed with support from arch rivals Bharatiya Janata Party.

Arunachal Pradesh had plunged into political crisis in November 2015 after 21 of the Congress’ 47 legislators rebelled against then chief minister Nabam Tuki. The Centre imposed President’s Rule on January 26, and Pul, the leader of the Congress dissidents’ faction, was sworn in as chief minister on February 19.

However, the Supreme Court restored the Congress government, scrapping all decisions by the governor that precipitated the fall of the previous administration and ended Pul’s tenure at the helm in the state.

He is survived by three wives and four children.

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