|President Pranab Mukherjee addresses students from the Northeast at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Saturday. Picture by Ramakant Kushwahaj
Shillong, Oct. 19: Security has been beefed up here ahead of President Pranab Mukherjee’s maiden visit to Meghalaya.
From putting up barricades to the deployment of security forces, the state government is leaving nothing to chance as the proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has called for a 36-hour shutdown — beginning Monday morning — to protest against Mukherjee’s visit.
Yesterday, chief secretary W.M.S. Pariat reviewed the security scenario and arrangements being made ahead of the President’s visit.
Mukherjee is likely to arrive here on Monday afternoon and address members of the Meghalaya Assembly in the evening.
He will also visit Brookside bungalow at Rilbong where Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore had stayed during his visit here in 1919.
On Tuesday morning, Mukherjee will travel to the North Eastern Hill University (Nehu) campus where he will address its 21st convocation programme.
Thousands of graduates, post-graduates, MPhil and PhD holders in different fields will receive their respective degrees in Mukherjee’s presence. The President is the Visitor to the central university.
To enable students to reach Nehu, the state government has arranged buses to ferry them from different localities in the city and from the outskirts.
Mukherjee will also visit Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures (DBCIC) at Mawlai. The centre is a unique venture of one of the Roman Catholic congregations — theSalesians of Don Bosco.
The centre comprises Don Bosco Museum and fosters research on indigenous cultures, publications and sharing of knowledge on indigenous cultures.
The museum, with 17 galleries, showcases the culture of the indigenous inhabitants of the eight states of the Northeast.
Market rush: People were seen rushing to the main market area — Iewduh — since morning to procure provisions in view of the shutdown.
The shutdown will begin at 6am on Monday and will conclude at 6pm the following day.
As a mark of protest against the 36-hour shutdown, the Informed Conscious and Responsible Existence (ICARE), an NGO, has called a public gathering on Monday morning at Khyndailad (Police Bazaar).
The state government had also appealed to the people to defy the shutdown call and come out in huge numbers to greet the President.
“While steps are being taken to provide all necessary security arrangements for the protection of all sections of the people, the government appeals to each and every citizen to come out in large numbers to greet the President on this auspicious occasion. This will be an indication of our maturity and send out a strong message that people of the state can be no longer be held to siege at every turn,” a government communiqué stated.
While announcing the shutdown on Thursday, HNLC “publicity secretary” Sainkupar Nongtraw had said, “October 21 is being observed as the 25th death anniversary of Wickliffe Syiem, founder of Hynniewtrep nationalism, and the planned visit of Mukherjee is a political insult to Hynniewtrep National Day”.