Fresh violence in Shillong, more forces rushed as Army conducts flag march

Shillong has been on edge following clashes between residents of the city's Punjabi Line area and Khasi drivers of state-run buses. 

Fresh violence in Shillong, more forces rushed as Army conducts flag march
Pic courtesy: IANS

New Delhi: About 1,000 central paramilitary personnel have been sent to Meghalaya to tackle the situation in Shillong. Top officials of the Union Home Ministry were also in touch with the state government officials and getting regular information about the prevailing situation in the Meghalaya capital. Adequate forces have been sent to Shillong to control the situation as per the request of the state government, a ministry official said, PTI reported. 

Meanwhile, the Army conducted flag marches on Monday after fresh outbreak of violence, including an attack by protesters on a CRPF camp on Saturday night, in the Meghalaya capital where authorities re-imposed curfew. The Army conducted flag march in the affected areas including Laitumkhrah, Polo and Baza Bazaar. Defence spokesperson Ratnakar Singh told the news agency that about 300 displaced civilians, mostly women and children, were rescued and they returned to their homes the following day.

Officials said curfew was reimposed at 4 pm on Monday and would continue till further orders. Protesters pelted stones at the CRPF camp at Mawlai, situated just below Jaiaw Lumsyntiew locality. 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.

Shillong has been on edge following clashes between residents of the city's Punjabi Line area and Khasi drivers of state-run buses. 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. The Meghalaya capital was placed under curfew on Saturday following clashes between police and locals all through Friday. Late on Friday night also, the Army had carried out a flag march in various localities. 

Normal life continued to remain affected for the fourth day in a row on Monday with curfew imposed in parts of the city under the Lumdiengjri police station and Cantonment Beat House areas during the morning hours. Security would be tightened in 14 localities of the Meghalaya capital that were mainly affected by the clashes, Director General of Police (DGP) SB Singh said. "The Home Ministry has sanctioned the deployment of four additional CRPF and two ITBP companies. The state's SF-10 commandoes along with a CRPF company and the district forces are already monitoring the situation on the ground," he said.

Chief Minister Conrad 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 the relocation of sweeper colony from Them Metor near Bara Bazaar. Earlier, on Sunday, he had said that the violence was a local issue and some people with vested interests had been trying to give a communal colour to it.

"The problem is very much in a particular locality, on a particular issue. It just happened that two particular communities were involved, but it's not a communal thing," Sangma had said. 

Meghalaya Home Minister James Sangma on Monday appealed to people to stay calm and said the government is doing everything to restore peace in the city. "The agitators should stop protesting as the government has already met many of their demands, which included the arrest of the accused in the assault of the bus handyman on May 31," he said.

(With PTI inputs)