Fresh violence in Shillong; Centre rushes forces, Army conduct Flag march

After curfew was relaxed for eight hours yesterday, fresh clashes broke out on Sunday night, prompting police to use tear gas shells to quell the mobs.

Fresh violence in Shillong; Centre rushes forces, Army conduct Flag march

SHILLONG: The Army conducted flag marches on Monday after a fresh outbreak of violence, including an attack by protesters on a CRPF camp on Sunday night, in the Meghalaya capital where authorities re-imposed curfew.

More than 15 companies of CRPF (100 personnel each) have been deployed in Shillong, officials said, while the Centre on Monday sent an additional 10 companies of paramilitary forces to restore peace in the city where normal life was disrupted for the fourth day following clashes between local tribals and Punjabi residents. 

After curfew was relaxed for eight hours yesterday, fresh clashes broke out last night, prompting police to use tear gas shells to quell the mobs, a police officer said.

Protesters pelted stones at the CRPF camp at Mawlai, situated just below Jaiaw Lumsyntiew locality last night, the officer said. 

CRPF IG Prakash D told PTI that three CRPF personnel received minor injuries and were given medical treatment at the camp itself. "There is no immediate threat to their life and there was no report of damage to property at the camp," he said.

Officials said curfew was reimposed at 4 pm today and would continue till further orders.

Chief Minister Conrad S Sangma chaired an all-party meeting in Shillong over the violence and announced the formation of a committee which will find a "permanent solution to the long pending issue" of relocation of sweeper colony from Them Metor near Bara Bazaar, where the clashes had started on Thursday.

Sangma also briefed a four-member team sent by the Punjab government. Punjab Jail Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who led the delegation, said the members of the community were safe in the state. They will meet representatives of Punjabi community tomorrow.

The Army conducted flag march on Monday in the affected areas including Laitumkhrah, Polo and Baza Bazaar after curfew was imposed by district authorities, Defence spokesperson Ratnakar Singh told PTI.

He said the Army was called in on June 1. About 300 displaced civilians, mostly women and children, were rescued and they returned to their homes here the following day, Singh said.

The district authorities have clamped curfew in the entire state capital here to contain the situation and prevent the spread of protests to other parts of the city.

East Khasi Hills district deputy commissioner said the night curfew in the state capital was preponed from 10 pm to 4 pm after intelligence inputs indicated that about 500 "protesters" have entered the city.

The curfew, although relaxed yesterday for few hours, will continue until further orders, he said.

The CPRF IG informed that 15 companies of CRPF have been deployed at the various locations which the district authorities have identified as vulnerable to attacks.

The National Commission for Minorities will send a member to Shillong to investigate the clashes, the panel's chief said

The panel has decided to send its member Manjit Singh Rai from Punjab to Shillong to assess the situation, said NCM chairperson Syed Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi.

The trouble started on Thursday after two groups of people in the city's Punjabi Line area clashed after a bus handyman was allegedly beaten up by a group of residents.

More than 10 people, including policemen, were injured in the violence. One person has been arrested so far in connection with the assault.

Tourism has been hit in the picturesque Meghalaya due to the violence.

A number of hotels in Shillong, whom PTI spoke with, informed that there have been nervous queries from tourists and also last-minute cancellations of rooms due to the current situation in the city.

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