Garo Hills civic polls postponed after violence
Shillong: Meghalaya Friday set in abeyance the first-ever municipal elections in its three districts of Garo Hills following violent protests by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) against the polls.
"The government has decided to adjourn the elections to the four municipal boards in view of the prevailing law and order situation in Garo Hills," Chief Electoral Officer Prashant Naik said.
Elections to the Tura, Williamnagar, Baghmara and Resubelpara municipal boards were to be held Friday in the face of the JAC decision to continue with its shutdown till Oct 30.
"New dates will be decided by the government after the region returns to normalcy," Naik said.
The shutdown that began Wednesday witnessed violent protests with suspected JAC supporters setting on fire government and private vehicles, taxation and agriculture offices and two wooden road bridges.
Protesters also set ablaze a Congress party office in Williamnagar, the district headquarters of East Garo Hills.
On Thursday night, magistrate Tangseng G. Momin, who is also the CEO of the Tura Municipal Board (TMB), was beaten up by people at Tura Government College in West Garo Hills district.
Garo Hills region remained cut off road with the rest of the country in view of the shutdown.
The JAC is opposed to holding the civic polls to the Tura, Williamnagar, Baghmara and Resubelpara municipal boards, fearing the elections would dilute the power and functions of the Nokma - the village clan head.
On Aug 27, 2004, the government conducted civic polls to the Resubelpara Municipal Board. However, courts declared the polls null and void as these were not held in conformity with the provisions of section 15A of the Meghalaya Municipal Act.
"They cancelled the municipal polls at the eleventh hour after seeing the mass opposition to hold the elections," JAC spokesman Tengsak G. Momin said.
Urban Affairs Minister Prestone Tynsong earlier said the primary objective behind the civic polls was to provide people with an elected body in the four municipal boards of the Garo Hills.
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