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24-hr Itanagar strike called off

- Arunachal Pradesh students’ union to organise protest march today

Itanagar, June 26: Life slowly limped back to normality here after the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) deferred its extended 24-hour strike which it called last night following the arrest of its president, Kamta Lapung.

The city had come to a standstill on Wednesday because of the 12-hour strike call given by students’ union.

The union alleged that it had called the strike after its eight demands were not addressed by the government.

An otherwise uneventful day, the strike took a violent turn when Lapung and other members of the union were on their way to the police station to seek the release of some of its members who were taken into preventive custody. Lapung claimed he was attacked by sub-divisional police officer Bomge Kamduk and demanded his termination.

Union leaders later called a fresh strike from today at 5pm to 5pm tomorrow which was called off today.

Speaking to this correspondent, the union’s information secretary, Lota Singhi, said it deferred the strike “temporarily” because the “AAPSU does not want to harass the public”.

“We had taken the decision to extend Wednesday’s 12-hour strike call, but have now cancelled it temporarily as people were not in the know,” Singhi said, adding that the union “would continue its agitation soon”.

The influential students’ union will stage a protest march tomorrow morning at 9 leading to home minister Tanga Byaling’s official residence here. Byaling yesterday dismissed the student union’s demands calling them “nothing out of the ordinary”.

“Our fight is against the government, not the people,” Singhi said. Hinting at a possible indefinite strike, he also warned that if Lapung, who is currently in 14-day judicial custody, is not released soon, “the agitation may become extreme”. The Arunachal Pradesh government spokesperson Bamang Felix today condemned the strike call and termed it illegal.

Felix said that the union “should have taken some other means of democratic protest”. He further condemned the action saying that a students’ union “calling bandh during the peak academic session is unwarranted”.

In reaction to one of the union’s eight demands questioning the state government’s arbitrary political appointments, Felix said decisions that the government takes are its prerogative.

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