| Lapang: Ready for talks |
Shillong, Aug. 1: Meghalaya chief minister D.D. Lapang today softened his stand and appealed to the Steering Committee against Murder of Democracy, a conglomeration of NGOs, to withdraw its proposed agitation and come for talks.
After the Meghalaya cabinet rejected the committee’s demand to oust state director-general of police Anil Pradhan for releasing Congress politician Thomas Nongtdu, who allegedly funded the Shillong jailbreak that took place on May 31, the NGOs last night called road blockades from Monday.
They have called the road blockades from 7pm on Monday to 5am the next day and from 7pm on Tuesday to 5am the next day.
Night “public curfew” (bandh) has also been clamped from 7pm on Thursday to 5am the next day and again from 7pm on Friday to 5am the next day.
Lapang told reporters today that since the agitation would affect all sections of people, especially the poor, the NGOs were welcome to hold further talks on their demand. “We can climb down from our stand and we are exploring various options on the demand of the NGOs,” he said.
Lapang lauded the role of the social organisations and said the NGOs had time and again pointed out the loopholes in the administration.
There are indications that the government may ask Pradhan to take leave till the completion of the judicial inquiry commission that it had constituted recently to inquire into the entire jailbreak episode.
Lapang, who also holds the home portfolio, is consulting his cabinet colleagues to find a way out of the crisis. In his capacity as the home minister, he does not want any law and order problems in Meghalaya, which is considered to be one of the peaceful states in the Northeast. He said the government wants normality to continue in the state at all cost.
The NGOs pressed for the DGP’s ouster after principal secretary (home) Barkos Warjri submitted the administrative inquiry report that indicted Pradhan for influencing subordinate police officials to effect the release of Nongdtu within 48 hours of his arrest.
However, the cabinet maintained that the administrative inquiry report was inconclusive and decided to wait for the judicial inquiry commission’s report.
The NGO leaders went into hiding soon after the announcement of the agitation programme yesterday, even as police had launched a search operation.
Regarding the arrest warrant against the NGO leaders, Lapang said the matter had been entrusted to the deputy commissioners and it was their duty to maintain law and order in the state.