New Delhi: Kalikho Pul, chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh from February 19 to July this year, was found dead at his official chief minister’s residence, which he was yet to vacate, in Itanagar this morning. Reports say that Pul committed suicide, with an NDTV report saying he was found hanging. He was 47 years old. He is survived by his wife Dangswimsai and five children.
Pul became chief minister after rebel Congress MLAs joined hands with the BJP to form a government that replaced the Nabam Tuki-led Congress government.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that all decisions taken in the state after December were unconstitutional, including the imposition of president’s rule. The court set the clock back to when Tuki was in charge, meaning that Pul had to resign on July 16.
A few days later, the rebels rejoined the Congress and Pema Kandu was sworn in as chief minister.
Pul had not yet vacated the official residence. Sources told NDTV that he had asked for time to move out. Local reporters say he had not left the bungalow for 15 days and had stopped interacting with people. Pul was last seen alive at 8.30 am by his domestic staff.
There state government is yet to officially confirm Pul’s death.
There has been public outrage after his death, with a huge crowd gathered and slogans against Kandu being heard outside Pul’s residence, sources said. Supporters have even resorted to violence on the streets of Itanagar. Vehicle movement has been banned. The state has called in paramilitary forced to control the crowds.
The crowds also burnt the coffin the state police had brought for Pul, saying it was sub-standard for a former chief minister.
According to local media, a suicide note has been found but the police have not revealed any details about it.
Reacting to the news, minister of development of the northeast region Jitendra Singh said, “I am saddened to hear of his demise, a promising life cut short. I met him last week during my visit to the northeast. He was full of ideas. My heart goes out to his family and to the people of Arunachal Pradesh.”
Congress MP from Arunachal Pradesh Ninong Ering also expressed shock at the news. “I was with him recently and spoke to him,” he said. “Pul said these things happen, ups and downs come in politics and life. But I didn’t expect him to take such an extreme step. He was staying in the CM’s bungalow. Loneliness must have crept into him. When the mind is empty it is a devil’s workshop.”
Many people, including the chief minister, have said that a CBI inquiry should be conducted, he added.
The cabinet secretary has also issued a statement, saying that “The Cabinet is shocked and shattered by the news that our senior colleague and a seasoned leader Shri Kalikho Pul took this extreme step of ending his life this morning at Itanagar”. The statement added that the cabinet has decided to extend “full status” of a state funeral and state mourning for three days.