Shillong, Sept. 1: A problem of plenty is gazing at the Mukul Sangma government, which will complete 180 days in office on Thursday.
From protests by pressure groups favouring introduction of the inner-line permit regime to protests by school and college teachers across Meghalaya, the government machinery has to work overtime to ensure that tranquillity does not get derailed.
In the last two days, there have been reports of arson from some parts of the city with unidentified persons attacking private movable and immovable properties.
These incidents have prompted the administration to promulgate Section 144 CrPC, at least in the East Khasi Hills district, the focal point whenever an agitation takes place.
In view of the 12-hour strike beginning from 5am tomorrow, the administration has prohibited carrying of arms, weapons or any material that may be used to cause grievous harm, injury or damage or loss of human life, public and private property.
At the same time, the administration has prohibited the sale of petrol/diesel or other inflammable materials in loose bottles to anyone by any petrol pump or refilling station or private individuals dealing with the sale or storage of the same within the East Khasi Hills district.
Despite the ban, two petrol bombs were hurled at a CRPF camp here this evening, prompting police to suspect the handiwork of pressure groups.
The police said two petrol bombs were hurled at the CRPF camp near Mawlai bridge around 7.45pm.
Though no damage was reported, at least four people, including three minors, were picked up by the CRPF for questioning.
“The handiwork of the NGOs who called a bandh cannot be ruled out. This is a rare instance where such criminal acts are being perpetrated on a Sunday,” East Khasi Hills superintendent of police M. Kharkrang said.
The dawn to dusk strike has been called by more than a dozen pressure groups and supported by other organisations, after the Thursday talks on the implementation of the British-era ILP regime came to nought.
On Thursday, the chief minister had expressed his determination not to implement the ILP, but would resort to existing and new laws and mechanisms to ensure that influx and illegal immigration are tackled head-on.
However, for the pressure groups, it was either ILP or nothing, as they believed that the “regulatory provision” was the only panacea to the problems of influx and illegal immigration into Meghalaya.
On the other hand, the school and college teachers, under the banner of the Joint Action Committee of All Teachers Associations of Meghalaya have declared their intention to intensify their agitation in protest against the government’s “adamant attitude”.
The teachers have been asking policy makers to spare time discuss their demands while the government has been asking the teachers to meet officers of the education department, which the teaching community found unacceptable.
On Tuesday, the teachers, falling under the deficit and ad hoc system from the primary up to the college level, will take mass casual leave, which would affect more than 4,000 schools and colleges in the state.
A sit-in is also being organised across the state on Wednesday, while a public meeting will be organised here on Thursday.
Political parties in the state are divided over attending the all-party meeting scheduled for Tuesday to discuss the inner-line permit system.
Opposition parties like the United Democratic Party (UDP), the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and the National People’s Party (NPP) — with the exception of the Garo National Council (GNC) — have not received invitations from the government to attend the meeting to be chaired by chief minister Mukul Sangma.
“If we do not get an official invitation, how do you expect us to go and attend the meeting?” HSPDP legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit told The Telegraph.
Taking a swipe at Sangma, who had declared that the Congress, which won 29 seats in the 2013 Assembly polls, had not promised in its manifesto to implement the ILP in the state, Basaiawmoit said, “I want to ask whether all those people who supported the Congress in the elections were against the ILP.”
He said it appeared that the Congress was not concerned about the interests of the indigenous people. He said the HSPDP had been demanding implementation of ILP, as it was the most stringent mechanism to check influx and illegal immigration.
Leader of Opposition and UDP president Donkupar Roy said the party was yet to receive any formal invitation to the meeting.
“If you say that you are calling an all-party meeting, notice should be given in advance so that the party can sit and deliberate before presenting its views in the meeting,” Roy said, indicating that the party may stay away from the meeting.
The UDP, like the HSPDP, has also demanded implementation of ILP in the state.
NPP legislator James P.K. Sangma said the party would attend the meeting when the government sent an invitation. Referring to the Congress manifesto, he said it appeared that Mukul Sangma was speaking more like a Congress spokesperson and not as a chief minister. “It also appears that he has already made up his mind not to implement the ILP. But we will still attend the same as courtesy demands so.”
The NPP has also been demanding implementation of the ILP till comprehensive mechanisms are put in place to check influx and illegal immigration into the state.
GNC legislator Clifford R. Marak said his party had been invited but they had not made up their minds whether or not to support an ILP regime.