Kalikho Pul, the 47-year-old former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister, was found hanging at the official chief minister’s residence on Tuesday sparking spontaneous violent protests in Itanagar.
Kalikho Pul, the 47-year-old former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister, was found hanging at the official chief minister’s residence on Tuesday sparking spontaneous violent protests in Itanagar. The state has announced three days of mourning and Pul will be accorded a state funeral.
Pul was still living in the CM’s bungalow and his body was found hanging from the ceiling fan of his bedroom, director-general of police S. Nithianandam told reporters. “His servant saw it at about 9 am and reported it to the police,” said the DGP, adding that he may have committed suicide on Monday night.
He also said that the preliminary investigation by the police did not indicate any foul play.
“We have taken over the possession of the body and sent it for post-mortem,” he said. Though the police was tight-lipped, sources said that a suicide note written by Pul was recovered from his house.
Pul, who fought against the alleged corrupt regime of chief minister Nabam Tuki, held the unique distinction of being the first Congress chief minister to be installed with support from arch rivals BJP. He also attended the first convention of the North East Democratic Alliance—a platform floated by the BJP in Northeast.
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 Mr 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 Mr Pul’s tenure. In a dramatic turn of the event, Mr Pema Khandu, son of former chief minister Dorjee Khandu, was elected chief minister and 30 other former rebel Congress MLAs returned to the party.
Though, Mr Pul was present at the swearing-in ceremony of Mr Khandu, his associates claimed that since then he was in stress and was gripped with the feeling of being isolated. Some colleagues said he was extremely depressed and had not met any person for a week.
“Pul was seated beside me during the July 16 swearing-in and he talked as usual and mixed with people. He also attended two CLP meetings after being dislodged. I am shocked at what he did. Only a thorough inquiry will reveal why he took such a drastic step. There could be so many reasons, including political, personal and financial,” Mr Tuki said.
The Congress MP Ninog Ering who is said to have played the key role in uniting rebel MLAs told reporters, “Mr Pul was living in chief minister’s residence, may be loneliness crept into him. When your mind is empty, it’s a devils workshop.”
Hundreds of sympathisers gathered outside his residence and shouted slogans against Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu. A large number of people, who came out soon after the news spread, forcibly entered the official bungalow of deputy chief minister Chowna Mein and ransacked the house.
Supporters even resorted to violence on the streets of Itanagar. Vehicular movement has been banned and the state has called in paramilitary forces to control the crowds. Angry youngsters demanding a high-level probe into the suicide also damaged the vehicles parked at the residence of the deputy chief minister. They also pelted stones at the residence of the home minister.
People were also angry to see an inferior quality of coffin brought to take the body of the late CM to his home district Anjaw. They burnt the coffin outside the CM’s bungalow.
Pul had worked as a carpenter and a night watchman too. He had also sold paan and beedi to fund his education at a night school. He lost his father at the age of six and his mother died when he was thirteen. Mr Pul grew up with his aunt under extreme financial constraints.
Pul belonged to one of the smallest ethnic groups—Kaman Mishmi. Most of his tribe members live in China. He was a minority among minorities on the religious count, according to the Indigenous Faith and Cultural Society of Arunachal Pradesh.
The Kamans follow Amik Matai, an indigenous faith distinct from other tribes of the region. Mr Pul was also the General Secretary of the students union for all three years in college. He got a chance to contest assembly polls in the state in 1995 on a Congress party ticket.
Mr Pul, who had a Bachelor in Arts degree, was into social activism and associated with several educational institutes in Anjaw district before joining active politics. He had joined the Congress as a teenager in the 1980s. Mr Pul is survived by three wives and four children.