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Eight injured during eviction drive in city

Shillong, July 25: Five enforcement department employees of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), a journalist and two other persons were injured when armed goons attacked them during an eviction drive in the heart of the city today.

Two police complaints — one by the council and the other by Shillong Press Club — have been lodged after the incident, which took place around 11.30am during checking at the Nichols Roy building, Iewduh.

According to the complaint lodged by KHADC (executive committee) secretary W. Syiemlieh, an enforcement officer and his staff were assigned the task to check and evict illegal hawkers along GS Road at Iewduh.

“Around 11.30am, they (the enforcement staff) were suddenly attacked by persons working along with one Paul Leong,” Syiemlieh said in the police complaint.

He also alleged that along with Leong, another person, identified as Kimfa Marbaniang, led the goons to cause severe injuries to the enforcement staff.

The council had divided the areas for evicting hawkers into six zones. Of these, the trouble broke out in only one of the zones.

The enforcement workers were also able to confiscate around five mini truckloads of items belonging to the evicted hawkers.

The injured have been identified as Teilang Thangkhiew, P. Sohphoh, Banker Kharkongor, M. Thongni and P. Kharbuli. Thangkhiew is said to be in a serious condition and is undergoing treatment at Shillong civil hospital.

Along with the enforcement staff, television journalist Marcus Lyngdoh, who was covering the incident, also sustained injuries. Two others persons who were injured have been identified as Khubili Suma and Riva Somika Kharpran.

In a complaint lodged by Shillong Press Club president David Laitphlang, it was alleged that the journalist, along with enforcement officers and staff, was attacked by persons who were “instigated and led” by Leong and his son Kimfa.

Both the council secretary and the Shillong Press Club have requested the police to take the perpetrators to task.

The police arrested Leong and Kimfa. Six other persons were picked up and brought to Sadar police station to ascertain their involvement in the case, East Khasi Hills superintendent of police M. Kharkrang, said.

Kimfa, on the other hand, reportedly lodged a police complaint alleging that the council enforcement inspector and his staff entered Iewduh and tried to forcibly shut down the shops located in his building in spite of being aware of a judgment by Meghalaya high court in his favour.

According to Kimfa, the court had directed the authorities concerned to open the sealed shops.

He also alleged that the enforcement staff assaulted his manager and staff and threatened them with dire consequences.

Council chief executive member Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit expressed disappointment that vested interests took the extreme step of assaulting the council staff on duty.

“It was not an accidental attack, but a clearly premeditated and carefully crafted assault to take revenge on our staff who have been carrying out checks from time to time. Those who are behind the incident are not traders, but criminals,” Basaiawmoit told reporters.

However, he said the council would continue its eviction drive and take action against traders who do not posses valid trade licences.

Stating that the enforcement workers do not even possess batons while on duty, Basaiawmoit said they would have to remain extra vigilant the next time they conduct such evictions.

After Basaiawmoit and his team assumed office in March, the council had revived the process of checking trading licences in areas under its jurisdiction. In the Iewduh area alone, the council had taken action against 60-odd traders for not possessing valid trading licenses.