Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar shut down for three days from Saturday allegedly after the district magistrate refused to grant permission for Diwali gambling to a market welfare association.
The association also threatened to extend the shutdown of shops and business establishments if Papum Pare (capital) district magistrate SK Singh was not transferred within three days.
The district authorities had on Friday dismantled some structures in Itanagar that were erected allegedly for jhandi-mundi, a popular form of gambling by throw of dice during Diwali.
Singh said the association turned against him for not allowing the “festive” gambling.
“On Friday, we received information that the Itanagar Market Welfare Association was illegally issuing permits to individuals to organise gambling in public places. They tried to portray market and public areas as their property. So the police demolished the structures this (Saturday) morning,” he said.
Officials said people in Itanagar and elsewhere in Arunachal Pradesh traditionally gamble during Diwali. But the state government enacted a law in 2012 making gambling illegal.
“The association wants to run a parallel government, which we cannot allow because the rule of law has to be followed,” Singh said.
The market association trashed the DM’s charges.
“The structures were erected to sell sweets. Diwali is a big Indian festival that we celebrate. And the question of issuing permits for gambling does not arise since we are not a government body,” Yumlan Achung, the association chairman said.
He added that commercial establishments in Itanagar will remain closed for three days. “The shutdown can be longer if the DM is not shunted out by Monday.”