| Meghalaya police personnel and pro-ILP activists in a scuffle in Shillong on Wednesday. Telegraph picture |
Shillong, Sept. 25: At least six police personnel, including five women, were reportedly injured when pro-ILP activists and police engaged in a scuffle around a bustling commercial area this afternoon.
The tension, hardly helped by cold morning showers, started from opposite the seat of power — the secretariat — when women activists, who had converged at the parking lot near the BSNL office, were asked to move out from the prohibited area and go elsewhere.
After a brief exchange of words between the activists and officials of the East Khasi Hills district administration, the women were taken in buses to Students’ Field, Jaiaw.
The Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) and the Khasi Women Welfare and Development Association (KWWADA) had called for a sit-in at the parking lot to protest against the state government’s adamant attitude on the inner-line permit (ILP) issue.
However, East Khasi Hills deputy commissioner Sanjay Goyal refused to grant permission to the groups to hold the demonstration near the seat of power, and instead asked them to observe the demonstration at Students’ Field, an area surrounded by a few schools and a college.
At the venue, women, who were joined by youths, cutting across gender lines, and members of the Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) condemned the Mukul Sangma government, shouting slogans like “No ILP, No Rest”.
Although the numbers were not massive, placards bearing words like “Unrest and unmoved till we are granted ILP” and “We demand ILP to protect our own tribe, not to fight against the government” signalled that the agitation would remain as long as the deadlock on ILP continues.
As the activists were allowed to sit at the venue till 3pm, some of them tried to take an impromptu march to Motphran, a busy commercial hub.
However, police personnel stopped them. In the mêlée, a scuffle broke out between some of the activists and the police.
Some of the activists also allegedly threw stones, besides resorting to assault, injuring six police personnel near Motphran, including the second-in-command of the 6th Meghalaya Police Battalion, Gabriel Iangrai.
“We have identified certain persons who had instigated the people to try and take a march to Motphran, and we will register cases against them soon,” East Khasi Hills superintendent of police M. Kharkrang said. Some protesters also suffered minor injuries.
Kharkrang said the situation was volatile and the district police were prepared in case the situation became aggravated.
Till date, the government has stuck to its guns about not implementing the ILP in Meghalaya. For their part, pressure groups and four political parties have refused to budge from their pro-ILP stand.