Stray violence marks bandh, 14 held

An otherwise busy Don Bosco junction wears a deserted look during the 12-hour bandh called by 10 NGOs on Monday. The street lights are on during bandh hours.

SHILLONG/TURA NONGPOH: Stray incidents of violence marked the 12-hour bandh called by 10 organisations demanding the introduction of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in Meghalaya to regulate the entry of outsiders into the state, even as police have arrested 14 persons for their alleged involvement in arson during the bandh hours.
Almost all government establishments, including financial and educational institutions, remained closed in all the 11 district headquarters.
Two government offices were partially gutted in the Ri-Bhoi district while two private vehicles were torched in the state capital in the wee hours of Monday by miscreants suspected to be members of the outfits sponsoring the shutdown.
In West Khasi hills district, 5 hours before the bandh, two Dumper Trucks belong to the Synic Enterprise, a sub contractor of the BSC C&C JV Company engaged in the construction of Shillong-Tura road were burnt down by miscreants on Sunday post midnight.
The incident took place at Thadwang of Pyndengrei village while the trucks were parked at the roadside near their temporary camp.
Meanwhile, a report from Tura said the dawn-to-dusk shutdown failed to make much dent in the minority dominated region of West Garo Hills even as the hills remained shut on Monday.
No untoward incidents were reported from the Garo Hills region.
In Shillong the otherwise busy streets of Shillong wore a deserted look with traders downing their shutters and vehicular traffic was negligible.
The attendance of employees in the Secretariat was poor with most rooms remaining unoccupied. Only a few senior officers were seen in the Main Secretariat.
Despite a stringent warning from Government to its employees to attend office during the bandh, the over-all attendance of all Government employees recorded in the State was a mere 25 percent.
Principal Secretary, Home KS Kropha informed that the attendance in the Secretariat was 16% while the turnout in directorates of various departments was 11.32 %.
The situation was however slightly better in the Deputy Commissioner’s office of all districts as the overall attendance was reported at 49%.
To make up for the economic loss, the State Government has announced September 7 as a working day for all its employees.
Meanwhile, 14 persons were arrested in connection with various cases of arson reported in and around the city and its suburbs in these last few days.
East Khasi Hills Police has managed to round up 14 miscreants from around the city for their involvement in creating disturbances and destruction to government and public properties during these last few days.
According to police, all the arrested persons are members of the pressure groups, KSU and HNYF.
Two HNYF members–Shanborlang Kshiar (30) of Mawlai Phudmuri and David Ryngki (23) of Mawlai Mawdatbaki were arrested by the police on Monday morning for pelting metallic lead at Dr Sandi Syiem of SANKER, using a catapult.
Police stated that if the lead pellets had hit a person, the injury would have been severe. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident.
Again, on Monday morning, unknown miscreants set ablaze the vehicle of Additional District Magistrate DM Wahlang at Demthring. Wahlang’s vehicle was partially damaged in the incident.
Earlier, police arrested four KSU members–Samkupar Lyngdoh (28), Walstar Nongdhar (28), Anthony Sangma (32) and Balan Kharkongor (28) from 7th Mile on Sunday evening for possessing three bottles of kerosene. Another two persons-Jibarkor Thabah (22) and Banjop War (23) both hailing from Pynthorbah were arrested from Wilco School Pynthorumkhrah.
Two KSU members-Stadbor Dhar (27) and John Syiemlieh (20) were arrested from Mawsynram, another three KSU members Wanlambok Wansai (21, Smallingstar Nongsiang (24) and Esteliborn Khonglam (22) arrested from Mawlai Iewrynghep and Arki Rymbai (25) of Sunny Hills were arrested from Lumdiengjri.
The arrested persons have been charged with several sections of the IPC including attempt to murder, Sec 6A of the Meghalaya Maintenance of Public Order (MMPO) Act, punishment for wrongful confinement (sec 342 of IPC), punishment for extortion (sec 384 of IPC) besides others.
“Tight security was maintained in and around the city and its outskirts and during the bandh, there were many failed attempts by miscreants to cause disturbances,” East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police M Kharkrang said.
Comparing to previous agitations Kharkrang said “This time, they (pressure groups) have gone all out to cause damage and disruption to the extent of targeting civilians”. Unlike previous years when only government vehicles were targeted, this time even vehicles belonging to individuals were targeted, he added.
“We are coming down heavily on the arrested persons and many cases have been registered against them,” Kharkrang added. The arrested persons have been detained at the Sadar police station.
While appreciating the support extended by the various heads of localities, the SP further called upon cooperation of the dorbar shnong to ensure that peace and normalcy is restored in the State and Shillong in particular.
When asked whether additional forces would be needed to tackle the law and order situation in the district in view of the uprising, Kharkrang said “At present, we have adequate strength but if the need arises, the headquarters have assured that additional forces would be provided.”
Urban Affairs minister Ampareen Lyngdoh was the first minister to arrive at the Secretariat on the day. “I am a public servant and I must come to work,” Lyngdoh said. She however rued the fact that police personnel were not visible enough in the city to provide a sense of security.
Later, Ampareen was joined in by other ministers at the Secretariat which include PWD minister Sniawbhalang Dhar, Home Minister Roshan Warjri, Social Welfare minister Deborah Marak, Transport minister HDR Lyngdoh and the Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma.
The bandh also paralyzed the Guwahati-Shillong national highway as goods- laden trucks and passenger buses and taxis remained off the road on account of the bandh.