The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Protest arson at Lapang’s house
- Sangma raises statehood cry for Garos

Shillong, June 25: The controversy over the Meghalaya education board took a turn for the worse today, as protesters targeted the property of chief minister D.D. Lapang at Nongpoh.

A portion of the property, which was rented out as an office to the block Congress at Nongpoh in Ri Bhoi district, was torched.

Director-general of police W.R. Marbaniang said the office section of the property, which is used for the Congress’s block-level activities, was partially damaged. No one has been arrested in this connection.

Again, in the Garo hills, the Nationalist Congress Party, led by Purno Sangma and several non-governmental organisations, adopted a resolution last night demanding a separate Garo state.

Adding to the turmoil, the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) also announced its next phase of agitation today, with a two-day bandh in schools and colleges.

Also, they will picket at government offices on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The developments capped a fortnight of agitation in the state, which has widened the divide between the Khasis and the Garos into a yawning chasm.

Yesterday’s cabinet decision has infuriated the KSU, which decided to step up its agitation by picketing offices and financial and education institutions next week.

KSU president Samuel Jyrwa said after the central executive committee meeting today that the union would intensify its agitation to oppose the government decision.

Twelve NGOs today held a meeting and decided to extend support to the KSU and hold a public rally in Shillong on July 5.

After five hours of discussion yesterday, the Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) cabinet decided to authorise the state-level committee to decide on restructuring, revamping and strengthening the Meghalaya Board of Secondary Education.

Lapang said the decisions taken earlier to appoint a full-time chairman for the board at Tura and secretaries with a team of reorganised officers at Tura and Shillong would be examined by the panel, which was set up on June 15. The panel has been given two months to come up with a solution.

In the Garo Hills, former Lok Sabha Speaker Sangma suggested generating public opinion on the creation of “a separate Garo state”.

The suggestion came in the wake of the current agitation and standoff between the Lapang government and NGOs on the Meghalaya board issue.

Sangma said a meeting of the NCP, attended by over 250 persons from three districts of the Garo hills last evening, rejected the cabinet decision taken yesterday.

Echoing the sentiments of the people of the Garo hills, Sangma has demanded deputy chief minister (in charge of education) Mukul Sangma’s resignation. The NCP has set “a seven-day deadline” for the government to come out with a clear-cut decision.

“The cabinet decision is ambiguous and it is no different from the decision taken by the chief minister on Monday,” Purno Sangma declared. “Leaders of the Garo hills, who attended the meeting, took serious exception to the attitude of the government towards the Garo hills and supported the idea of creation of a separate Garo state,” he added.

Several meetings were also organised all over the Garo hills. A meeting called by the Garo Hills Citizens’ Forum was held at the district auditorium, where a decision was taken to organise public rallies all over the Garo hills during the next 10 days to mobilise opinion on the issue of a separate state.

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