|A charred vehicle at Nongmynsong during the 12-hour strike in Shillong on Monday. Picture by UB Photos
Shillong, Sept. 2: The dawn-to-dusk shutdown called by pressure groups demanding implementation of the inner-line permit (ILP) system passed off peacefully across Meghalaya with no major untoward incidents reported barring a few stray incidents.
The 12-hour strike commenced at 5am. Only 25 per cent attendance was recorded in offices, including government establishments, across the state.
The pressure groups are determined to go ahead with a fresh phase of agitation and have announced a night road blockade to be effective on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 9pm to 5am.
A KSU activist thanked people for extending cooperation to the strike called by them. He said more programmes would be announced in the next few days.
According to principal secretary (home) Kuljit Singh Kropha, the state secretariat recorded only 16 per cent attendance while the directorates recorded 11.32 per cent. The overall attendance in all the 11 districts was 49 per cent. Schools, colleges and other establishments remained shut throughout the day and most of the major roads were virtually empty.
To compensate for today’s loss of working hours, Saturday had been declared a working day, he added.
Kropha said there were stray incidents of stone throwing and burning of some vehicles in East Khasi Hills and West Khasi Hills districts. The situation in Garo hills was normal where shops and other establishments in the plains belt remained opened.
While not ruling out requisitioning of additional forces from the Centre, he said at present the state is reorganising its security forces to ensure that peace does not get derailed in any part of Meghalaya.
“As of now, we have not sought any forces from the Centre. But everything will depend on the situation. The situation is under control, but we have to remain alert, and there is no room for complacency,” he said.
On the other hand, East Khasi Hills district police have apprehended at least 14 youths who have been allegedly found indulging in crimes before and during the shutdown hours.
These youths were allegedly in possession of petrol bombs while others had catapults with them. Police alleged that private vehicles have come under attack in the past few days.
According to East Khasi Hills superintendent of police M.H. Kharkrang, the 14 youths belong to pressure groups like the KSU and the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF). Both these groups are a part of the more than a dozen organisations which have sponsored the 12-hour strike.
The arrests were made from places like Seventh Mile, Pynthorbah, Mawsynram, Mawroh, Mawlai Iewrynghep and Lumdiengjri.
“We have evidence of their involvement in creating trouble in some parts of the district, and interrogation against them is on to ascertain the conspiracy behind these actions,” Kharkrang said. He added that the arrested persons had been booked under various sections of the IPC and the Meghalaya Maintenance of Public Order (MMPO).
The district police chief also acknowledged that localities and village councils (Dorbar Shnong) have been extending support to the law-enforcing agencies in containing criminal acts.
On the requirement of additional forces, Kharkrang said as of today, the strength of the police force is adequate. He added that the police headquarters have agreed to provide more forces if such a need arises.
Party meet deferred
The all-party meeting on influx, where the issue of the ILP is likely to surface, has been deferred to Thursday. The meeting was earlier scheduled for tomorrow at the state secretariat.
Leader of Opposition Donkupar Roy said the government was asked to defer the meeting as the official communication on the proposed meet reached him only yesterday. “Due to today’s bandh and the little time in hand, I requested the chief minister to defer the meeting to another day,” Roy said.
Sangma also said the UDP had requested him to defer the meeting, and therefore, the meeting has been rescheduled for Thursday.