| An idol being immersed in Umkhrah river in Shillong on Monday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, Oct. 15: Durga Puja celebrations ended on a peaceful note in Meghalaya amid apprehension and tight security.
Yesterday, around 70 idols of goddess Durga were immersed in different parts of the Greater Shillong area. A total of 59 idols were immersed in the main immersion ghat near Polo grounds.
However, against the backdrop of the inner-line permit agitation this year, the celebrations were subdued in most places.
Previously, exasperating traffic snarls were the order of the day during such festivities, which would continue till midnight. But this year, devotees preferred to remain within the confines of their respective localities rather than go pandal hopping.
“This year, the inter-locality movement was less as people preferred to celebrate at Puja pandals in their respective localities,” Naba Bhattacharjee, working president of the Central Puja Committee said.
Meghalaya police, especially in East Khasi Hills district, had strengthened security across the capital city to ensure that the celebrations ended on a peaceful note.
Since Friday, and till last evening, patrolling by Special Weapons and Tactics personnel and other police personnel was intensified in all the sensitive areas within the city to thwart any subversive attempts by goons to disrupt normality.
“East Khasi Hills district police would like to express its sincere thanks to all the citizens of Shillong, in particular, and the district, as a whole, who have lent all their support to us to ensure peaceful Puja celebrations. My special thanks to the Central Puja Committee and the Puja committees of all the pandals who agreed to compromise on a lot of issues suggested by the district administration,” East Khasi Hills superintendent of police M. Kharkrang said.
He also appreciated the co-operation extended by the citizens’ committees, headmen and NGOs.
The pro-ILP pressure groups had also suspended their agitation from October 10 to not disrupt the festivities. However, the groups, comprising more than 10 organisations from the Khasi-Jaintia and the Garo Hills, have declared a bandh from 5am on Thursday to 5am on Friday, according to Frederick Kharmawphlang, vice-president of Khasi Students’ Union.
The Mukul Sangma government has been averse to the demand for implementing ILP in the state as a measure to check influx and illegal immigration. It has also displayed no interest in calling the pressure groups for talks to end the impasse, which has hit the state since September 2.
The government, on the other hand, had come up with the Meghalaya Regulation of Landlords and Verification of Tenants Bill, 2013. It believes that this proposed law will take care of the concerns expressed by various groups in relation to influx and illegal immigration. The bill aims to provide a framework for verification of the landlords and tenants to “enhance the security of the citizens of the state” and prevent the breach of peace and maintenance of public order.
The Meghalaya Assembly had also voted against a resolution, which had sought to put in place the regulatory mechanism, ILP, which has been derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.