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Paper leak case: Normal life paralysed as Arunachal capital continues to remain shut

Local markets, business establishments, banks, post offices, educational institutions, and government offices remained closed, and vehicular traffic was off the road

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Itanagar: Normal life was affected badly, with daily wagers being the worst hit, as the Arunachal Pradesh state capital continued to remain closed for the second consecutive day on Saturday after the bandh enforcers reportedly extended the Itanagar bandh till February 21.

Local markets, business establishments, banks, post offices, educational institutions, and government offices remained closed, and vehicular traffic was off the road as most of the capital’s streets, including its lifeline NH-415, were blocked by the protesters.  

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Moreover, the state board examinations of classes V and VIII and class IX (internal) scheduled to be held on Saturday in all schools of the Itanagar Capital Complex were postponed by the government in view of the prevailing situation.

With mobile internet services remaining suspended for the second consecutive day on Saturday, the normal functioning of local media houses has been affected. The state government had ordered the temporary suspension of mobile internet services in the Itanagar Capital Region for 47 hours, starting at 6 p.m. on Friday till 5 p.m. on Sunday, ‘to prevent the further occurrence of serious law and order problems’.

“Though there was no report of any fresh incidents from any parts of the Capital Complex today so far, the situation remains precarious with the mob being quite aggressive,” a senior police officer had said earlier.

The Itanagar bandh was enforced by the ‘public’ in protest against the non-fulfilment of the 13-point demand of the Pan Arunachal Joint Steering Committee-APPSC pertaining to the APPSC fiasco.

Meanwhile, heeding the call from Chief Minister Pema Khandu, a 10-member team from the protesters’ side, including PAJSC chairman Techi Puru, went to the CMO around 3 p.m. for a meeting with Khandu to discuss their charter of demands. At the time of this report’s filing, the meeting was in progress, with a huge sea of slogan-shouting protesters waiting outside the Civil Secretariat gate here. 

The Committee has been demanding that the government declare all the recruitment examinations conducted by the APPSC ‘null and void’ wherever question papers were allegedly leaked, immediate arrest of the former APPSC chairman, secretary, members, and all the officials of the Commission, an Enforcement Directorate and court-monitored probe into the APPSC fiasco, immediate dismissal of state government officials involved in the cash-for-job scam.

It also demanded that UPSC postpone recruitment exams until the outcome of the ongoing probe into the paper leak is known, that a three-member committee report on the AE (civil) paper leak be made public, that the three state government officers posted under APPSC be recalled, and that all aggrieved candidates be compensated Rs five lakh each.

They added one more demand to their wish list—the cancellation of Friday’s scheduled swearing-in of the new APPSC chairman and three members, which has been conceded by the government at last.

The posts of APPSC chairman and members had fallen vacant due to the resignations of the then chairman and members from their respective posts in October 2022, following the APPSC-conducted Assistant Engineer (Civil) Mains examination paper leak scam that came to the fore in August last year.

A total of 415 candidates had appeared in the said examination conducted on August 26 and 27, 2022, for 33 AE posts.

Presently, the paper leak case is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

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