* Tension grips Itagar as protestors go on rampage
* Prime Minister, Congress high command condole Pul’s death
* CM Pema Khandu holds cabinet meet, declares 3-day mourning
OUR BUREAU & IANS
ITAGAR, Aug 9: Former Aruchal Pradesh Chief Minister and Congress rebel Kalikho Pul, who stepped down from the top post last month after the Supreme Court ordered removal of his government, allegedly committed suicide on Tuesday morning.
Pul, 47, who was yet to vacate the CM's residence as his house was being renovated, was found hanging from a ceiling fan in a room by one of his wives. According to doctors, the death occurred between 7 and 7:30 AM.
"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.
Tension gripped capital Itagar as soon as news of Pul's death spread, with scores of agitated supporters surrounding Chief Minister Pema Khandu's bungalow in Niti Vihar area, shouting slogans against him and demanding his government's resigtion.
Angry supporters also demanded a CBI probe into Pul's "untural" death, refusing to allow his body to be taken out from the CM's bungalow and insisting that he be buried inside the premises. A coffin, which was brought from outside, was damaged and set on fire by the crowd before the assembled media.
A section of the supporters headed towards the official residence of Deputy CM Chow Mein, less than 100 metres away, and damaged the outer wall and at least 10 vehicles parked in the premises. An under-construction building of the Deputy CM was also set on fire, police said, adding there were no casualties.
Protestors also vandalized the official bungalow of Industries Minister Tapang Taloh. Officer-in-Charge of Itagar Police Station P Sora said 3-4 persons were injured in incidents of stone pelting during the protests.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pema Khandu called an emergency cabinet meeting and later announced a three-day mourning. "The cabinet is shocked and shattered that our senior colleague and a seasoned leader took this extreme step," an official statement said.
In a message to Pul's wife, Khandu said: "It pains my heart to write to you at this moment of extreme grief. I humbly endure to share with you the saddest times of your life though I know that it would be hard to do so."
After the cabinet meet, state police and ITBP reinforcements were sent to the high-security VVIP zone where the ministers' residences were located.
Survived by three wives and four children, Pul had not met any outsider for the past seven days, according to his family.
Pul's body will be kept at his bungalow to eble the public to pay respects, official sources said. His eldest wife has appealed to the public to maintain calm and not indulge in violence. The body will be sent for post-mortem and kept for public viewing from 5 PM onwards.
Prime Minister rendra Modi condoled Pul's death. "My thoughts are with the family and supporters of Kalikho Pulji on his sad demise. His service to Aruchal Pradesh will be remembered," he said.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi expressed shock over his death. Extending her condolences to the family of Pul, Gandhi said: "I pray for the peace of the departed soul."
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said he was "shocked and deeply saddened over the untimely demise of Kalikho Pulji. My heart goes out to his family".
Jitendra Singh, the Minister of State for Development for Northeastern Region, added: "Pul had a promising career that has been cut short."
Congress MP Ninong Ering said he was shocked by Pul's suicide. "Maybe loneliness crept into him. When your mind is empty, it is a devil's workshop," he said.
Communist leader D. Raja called the suicide "shocking" and said it was for the central government to find out what had happened.
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi, son of former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, said: "We are really saddened. He was just 47 years old. We pray for Pul's family."