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HNLC announces Monday shutdown

Shillong, Dec. 19: The proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) today announced a dawn-to-dusk shutdown in the Khasi-Jaintia hills on Monday as a token of resentment over the alleged “blind arrests” made by the police.

“Emergency measures, media and religious activities” have been exempted from the purview of the strike.

HNLC publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw, who emailed the message to media houses, said the government “must immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners and detainees”.

He said the decision to call the 12-hour shutdown, to be effective from 6am, was taken at a meeting of the outfit’s central command yesterday.

“The meeting expressed resentment over the blind arrests made by the police in which many youths are lodged inside the jail due to false implications against them. Many youths are being blamed for causing damage to government properties,” he stated, adding that the police were looking for hundreds of NGO leaders.

He said the families of the arrested youths were going through “mental torture” as they had to run to the judiciary to secure bail.

He said many of these youths belonged to poor families and their parents and relatives were running from pillar to post to arrange money for engaging lawyers and securing bail. Referring to the inner-line permit (ILP) issue, he said the NGOs had sought several “democratic” means to solve it.

But “the MUA government turned a blind eye by putting aside its democratic character,” the statement alleged.

It said the “people of Hynniewtrep” were about to celebrate Christmas.

“But what about the youths who are in jail? Don’t they also deserve to be with their families during Christmas?” Nongtraw asked.

He said the government had imposed draconian laws such as the Meghalaya Preventive Detention Act on several leaders, which “proves its step-motherly attitude towards the youths”.

He said these youths have been fighting to protect the identity of the Hynniewtrep people, “a genuine right, but they were being treated as terrorists”.

He said “corrupt ministers and government officials are swindling crores of money” but “no action” is being taken against them.

People who fight for the rights of the poor and the homeless were not spared by the “dictatorial” government.

“For the Indian government, the only criminals are the HNLC and leaders of NGOs,” he added.

The statement warned that this kind of “planned targeting by the police under the instruction of the Congress government will not be able to silence the masses”, who would soon come out in the open to support the HNLC’s cause.