| The East Garo Hills district administration distributes LPG cylinders. Telegraph picture |
Shillong, Jan. 12: Essential services in East Garo Hills district have been hit with insurgency raising its ugly head in the strife-torn region.
This has prompted the East Garo Hills district administration to give a call to the people to raise their voice against “mindless extortion” by insurgent groups from essential service providers like gas agencies.
The call was made after a manager of a gas agency in Williamnagar, the East Garo Hills district headquarters, fled to Tura in West Garo Hills following the receipt of a demand note from the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA).
Jims Flame is the only gas agency in Williamnagar and its surrounding towns. Two weeks back, its manager had received an extortion note from the GNLA where a sum of Rs 25 lakh was allegedly demanded from him, according to the deputy commissioner, East Garo Hills, Vijay Kumar Mantri.
“Thereafter, the manager fled to Tura after closing down the gas agency. Since then, the people have had to do without LPG cylinders,” he said.
Following a hue and cry, the deputy commissioner ordered the opening of the agency’s godown.
The district administration also spoke to officials of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd in Guwahati and brought a truckload of LPG cylinders by depositing the required amount to the corporation without involving the gas agency.
“Today, the supply branch of the district administration distributed LPG cylinders to those who have booked their cylinders in the last two weeks,” he said.
Yesterday, a meeting was organised with NGOs and residents where extra assistant commissioner (supply) Ripamchi Sangma appealed to the people to raise their voices against mindless extortion calls of insurgent groups to essential service providers like gas agencies and bank officials.
Residents of Songsak, which also falls under East Garo Hills, have not been able to avail of banking services of the only SBI branch in the area.
Following the abduction of a cashier of SBI (Songsak branch), who was subsequently released, the branch has not been functioning for nearly seven months now.
Account holders from Songsak have to spend at least Rs 200 a day to travel to Williamnagar to avail of banking services.
The SBI had opened a small cell in its Williamnagar branch, about 30km from Songsak, to cater to the requirements of the Songsak branch account holders.
“We have been writing to the SBI and also to the Reserve Bank of India to reopen the Songsak branch. We have also assured SBI officials that adequate security would be provided. But till date, the branch is still closed,” Mantri rued.
He said a suggestion to open the branch only during the biweekly market days was also made. “We have even suggested that the branch function from the police station. But they (bankers) are unwilling to come to Songsak,” Mantri added.
According to Songsak legislator Nihim D. Shira, there are nearly 1,000 account holders of the branch.