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Govt slammed for inaction

Shillong, Aug. 12: The Meghalaya government was today accused of inaction in spite of the purported support from the Centre to counter the grim law and order scenario in the Garo Hills region.

In separate letters written to Union home minister Rajnath Singh and Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, Tura Lok Sabha MP P.A. Sangma apprised the leaders of the Garo hills situation, particularly in the light of the recent abduction of an SBI employee from Gasuapara.

“This situation has clearly escalated because of the inaction of the state government. Though the Centre has been providing adequate forces, as requested by the state government, the state government has failed to utilise these forces in the right manner, which has only resulted in the situation getting from bad to worse,” Sangma said in his letter to Singh.

Sangma felt that the law and order situation could be brought back to normal if the state leadership has the intention to do so.

“In this case, the state leadership seems to have given up already. We strongly object to Garo Hills being declared as a disturbed area, and strongly oppose the application of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the region,” the veteran MP added while seeking the Centre’s intervention.

To Jaitley, Sangma said the SBI employees have felt that the bank’s branches in the sensitive locations in Garo Hills should be closed keeping in mind the safety of the employees.

Stating that safety concerns are critical, he, however, said an indefinite shutdown and closure of certain branches would adversely affect the economy of the Garo Hills.

Requesting Jaitley to take up the matter with the authorities concerned, Sangma said the SBI is the only bank with a rural presence and various transactions are conducted through its branches.

Law & order review

Chief minister Mukul Sangma today reviewed the preparations for maintenance of law and order in the state ahead of the Independence Day celebrations.

In the meeting, which was also attended by home minister Roshan Warjri and others, Sangma shared his observations and findings during a similar review meeting taken by him recently in Garo Hills.

A reference was also made to the shutdown calls by the proscribed HNLC in the Khasi and Jaintia hills and the A’chik Songna An’pachakgipa Kotok (ASAK) in Garo hills.

While appreciating the efforts of the law enforcement machinery to maintain the law and order situation at all costs, the chief minister reminded that the courage of the people in standing up against and defying such calls for shutdowns in the past should not be forgotten.

Therefore, the government reiterated its appeal to all sections of the population in the state to demonstrate their strength and resolve to stand up against anti-national forces.

HNLC lambasted: The proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) today refused to alter the shutdown timings in spite of requests from some quarters.

HNLC “publicity secretary” Sainkupar Nongtraw, in a statement, said the shutdown timings would remain unchanged, that is, from 6pm tomorrow until 6pm on Friday.

“The HNLC had never been against the interests of the poor. The recent decision to impose shutdown at 6pm on August 13 was to enable the farmers to dispose of their goods,” he said.

The HNLC had stated the shutdown for tomorrow and Thursday would be against the NGT ban on coal mining and Friday’s shutdown a sign of protest against the policy of the Centre in forcing the signing of the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement on August 17, 1948, at “gunpoint”.

Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) chief executive member Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit, termed the shutdown call “unjustified and illogical”.

“The shutdown should be called for a genuine cause. I do not see any justification for the outfit to call this shutdown,” Basaiawmoit said.

He said the outfit should have understood that the common people, especially the daily wage earners, would be severely affected by the shutdown.

He, therefore, urged the people to make their own choice on whether to support or oppose such shutdowns. “If they decide to boycott the shutdown, then they should not have any fear to openly come out,” he added.