By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: Despite the implementation of the Meghalaya Maintenance of Public Order (MMPO) Act and the State Home department’s assurance that the Act would be strictly enforced in the State, bandhs and strikes have remained a routine affair in Meghalaya.
In the wake of a January 7, 2010, order passed by the Gauhati High Court declaring bandhs and all such agitational activities as illegal in Assam and Meghalaya, the MUA Government in the State had, in March 2010, come up with the MMPO Act aiming to ban bandhs, strikes and any such agitation.
However, implementation of the same has remained tardy so far.
The MMPO Act states that if any individual or organization does anything to cause abstention from normal activities by members of public and employees disrupting normal life or does any act being subversive of law and order, shall be guilty of offence.
“The guilty shall be punishable with imprisonment up to seven years and shall be liable to compensate the government, the public and private citizen for loss suffered by them,” the Act states.
With regards to implementation of the Act, the administration has been found wanting. Only in a handful of cases, some troublemakers were rounded up for violation of the MMPO Act but on all occasions, they were released in no time owing to pressure from the NGOs and others.
The latest bandh in the State was called by the Hynniewtrep Achik National Movement (HANM) on October 9, who orchestrated a shutdown in Khasi and Jaintia Hills in protest against the State Government’s inaction in securing the release of one of their leaders who had been arrested by the Assam Government on charges of torching an Assam police outpost near the inter-state border.
Interestingly, Deputy Chief Minister and in charge Law, Bindo M Lanong, while explaining the Government’s ‘failure’ to fully implement the MMPO Act, said there was a need to have a fresh look at the Act so that it can be interpreted correctly.
“If there are any violations we have to remind ourselves once again about the Act,” Lanong said, without specifying any details.