Williamnagar market shuts down as traders and GSU trade charges over extortion

FIRs lodged

TURA: Citizens of Williamnagar town in East Garo Hills were left stranded and unable to purchase any provisions after the entire market closed down for the day, on Thursday, in protest against what the market committee alleged was an extortion attempt by a students’ body and the assault on a trader.

The secretary of the Williamnagar market committee filed a police FIR accusing members of the Garo Students’ Union of extortion and assault on a barber on Wednesday.

The GSU in Williamnagar has denied the allegation and have also filed an FIR accusing the secretary of the market of violating peoples’ rights with the closure and violating a High Court directive which had banned bandhs and any form of closure that affects people’s lives.

East Garo Hills superintendent of police, R T G Momin told The Shillong Times that secretary of Williamnagar Main Market Merchant Association, Lahitson N Marak, filed a police FIR alleging that members of the GSU had demanded money from each shop which was opposed by the merchants. He said that the FIR also mentioned about the assault on a barber by student members over non payment of the money.

“The market committee secretary filed the police FIR against the extortion demand and assault of the barber and we have registered a case,” said the SP.

Meanwhile, the GSU leadership in Williamnagar has denied the accusations of extortion.

“The barber was called to our office because we wanted to verify his credentials since he had come from outside and was not willing to produce any documents when we had previously asked him,” said GSU president of East Zone Siljrang Marak. He denied the assault claims and said that as a students’ union it was their duty to check for any possible signs of influx.

Marak added that the market secretary took the opportunity to close down the entire market without verifying with the GSU and other organizations over the allegations.

The GSU along with the FKJGP, AAYF, AYC and Indigenous Citizens Forum of Simsanggre (ICFS) jointly filed a police FIR demanding the arrest of the market secretary for closing down the entire market and causing hardship to the citizens.

Williamnagar police have registered both the FIRs. The market is expected to open on Friday.

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