| Officials leave Tura after the civic polls were adjourned on Friday. Telegraph picture |
Shillong, Oct. 29: The state government called off the municipal elections in Garo hills today after the law and order situation turned worse from last night.
The elections in Tura, Williamnagar, Resubelpara, and Baghmara were scheduled for today.
The decision is also likely to cast a shadow on elections in Shillong and Jowai.
A large number of people gheraoed various polling booths in parts of Tura since last night and did not allow the polling personnel to enter and conduct the polls, scheduled to begin from 8am today.
The crowd also prevented the polling officials to keep EVMs in the polling stations. There were also several attempts to torch government vehicles in Tura.
The East Garo Hills district witnessed more violence, including the hurling of a petrol bomb at the official residence of deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi, last night.
The bomb, however, did not explode.
In South Garo Hills too, there were stray incidents of stone pelting reported from last night.
The principal secretary, urban affairs, P. Naik, said the government had decided to adjourn the elections.
“We have viewed the law and order situation and considered it fit to adjourn the elections,” he added.
The agitation by the Joint Action Committee (JAC), comprising many NGOs, since October 26 have cost the government dearly, as public property was vandalised during the strike.
Besides wooden bridges, many government vehicles and buildings were torched in all the three districts of Garo hills.
The election preparation has also drained the state exchequer in terms of deployment of forces, training of polling personnel among others, but in vain.
Official sources said the government did not want to go hard on the agitators fearing the repeat of the 2005 incident of death of nine civilians in Tura and Williamnagar during police firing after the NGOs protested against the state government’s stand on the controversial Meghalaya Board of School Education restructuring issue.
The decision of the government to call off the municipal elections in Garo hills will also dampen the efforts of the urban affairs department to hold the elections in Shillong and Jowai.
Many NGOs have already opposed the holding of polls in Shillong and Jowai citing that the powers and functions of the traditional institutions will be eroded once the elections were held.