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Militant outfit threatens strike

Shillong, May 29: The proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has threatened to call a 12-hour shutdown on Tuesday if the interim order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banning mining and transportation of coal in Meghalaya is not revoked on Monday.

The NGT will be conducting a hearing on Monday in Shillong in relation to the interim order it had issued on April 17 in New Delhi banning mining and transportation of coal in Meghalaya following an application filed by the All Dimasa Students’ Union.

“Keeping in mind the livelihood of our Hynniewtrep people, the HNLC has come to a conclusion that if the ban by the NGT is not revoked, the council will declare a 12-hour shutdown,” HNLC publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw said in a statement.

He said the shutdown would be effective in the entire Khasi and Jaintia hills from 6am onwards.

At the same time, he said the shutdown would be the first stage of “rebellion” by the HNLC.

“It will follow (this up) with many more in the days to come until and unless the Centre looks for a solution,” Nongtraw added.

Justifying the shutdown, the HNLC leader said the tribunal’s interim order has created a situation where the livelihood of “thousands of families would be at stake for pleasing just a few”.

“If the NGT has an alternative option to provide employment to all the lakhs of people affected by the ban, then the HNLC has no problems,” he said.

Moreover, Nongtraw pointed out that thousands of coal-laden trucks ply daily to Assam and Bangladesh, and those from Hynńiewtrep communities run most of these trucks.

“How will the government suddenly implement such an order that affects lives of thousands, if not lakhs of people? Most of the non-tribal labourers engaged in the coal quarries have left for their respective states. But where will our poor labourers go? They are left with no alternative,” he said.

Further, the HNLC opined that the tribunal should have given the people who are involved in the business at least a year so that they could plan their options once the ban was imposed.