News & Information From Northeast India

Naharlagun road accident sparks communal flares on social media

Communal banter dominated social media after protesters, protesting against an alleged road-rage death, called for a complete closure of business establishments in Naharlagun, Arunachal Pradesh on October 9.

On October 8 evening, a pickup truck – carrying devotees after immersion of Durga Puja idols – and an SUV were involved in an accident in the helipad area of Naharlagun.

“The SUV was travelling towards Si-Donyi Ground when it met with an accident with a pickup truck. After hitting the SUV, the driver of the pickup truck attempted to speed away but instead hit a scooter and came to a stop after hitting a nearby wall,” police reports said.

According to reports, the driver of the SUV Gida Punio and passenger Phassang Sakter then chased and assaulted the driver of the pickup truck – Devol Choudhary – and one Dinesh Sahani who was travelling in the truck. There were around 12 people in the pickup truck. Most of them fled the scene after their vehicle came to a halt.

While the scuffle reportedly did not last long, Gida Punio later took the keys of the pickup truck and gave his phone number to the driver of the truck and asked him to repair his SUV.

Later in the night, Dinesh Sahani complained of some health issues and was taken to Tomo Riba Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (TRIHMS). However, he was declared brought dead on arrival by the doctors.

Based on the information, police detained the driver and the passenger of the SUV.

While investigations are on, with the body sent for post mortem, relatives of Dinesh Sahani called for speedy justice and strict punishment.

On October 9, protesters took to the streets in Naharlagun calling for complete closure of business establishments. Social media posts showed videos of certain protestors giving provocative speeches which later embroiled into serious communal banter between Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes (APST) and Non-APSTS.

In a statement on October 9, SP Capital Complex said that police investigation was currently on and appealed all “not to make it a communal issue.”

“The unfortunate incident took place when one vehicle hit another vehicle. The incident should have been reported to the police, instead the persons involved took the law into their hands and assaulted another,” the SP added.

Meanwhile, the All Arunachal Pradesh Student’s Union (AAPSU) has vehemently condemned the ‘forceful’ closure of shops, disruption of vehicular movement and illegal protest rally in Naharlagun on Wednesday. While condemning the reported death of Dinesh Sahani, AAPSU has also taken strong exception to such “illegal rally in the market areas of Naharlagun and forceful closure of shops by participants of the rally even after the culprits have reportedly been arrested by the police.”

The AAPSU also questioned the police and the district administration for being “silent” while “such illegal activities were being organized in broad-daylight by the protestors.”

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