Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Bandhs, road blockades, arson cases grabbed headlines regularly

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2013: Rewind

SHILLONG: Bandhs, night road blockades, arson cases and pelting of stones marred the year 2013 in the entire state including the Khasi-Jaintia Hills and the capital city of Shillong,
The first bandh of the year was called by the banned militant outfit HNLC on the day of state assembly polls. However, the bandh failed to create any negative impact the number of voters remained relatively high.
However, the biggest law and order problem that the city had to face was on April 4 when the KSU sponsored Khasi National Awakening event went berserk and turned violent during the procession in various parts of the city. Stone pelting and assault on passers-by including tourists and shopkeepers were reported in Laitumkhrah forcing the State Government to conduct an inquiry.
The magisterial probe into the vandalism in parts of city especially at Laitumkhrah on April 4 has established the role of KSU activists in the incident despite the initial denial of the students’ body.
Police later also arrested two KSU activists for their alleged involvement in the April 4 vandalism in the city. The arrest had immediate fallout in the torching of a government vehicle by unidentified miscreants
Later, the KSU called a night-road blockade over arrest of its members and demanded their immediate release.
While the situation was heating up in East Khasi Hills, indefinite curfew was imposed in Tura and a night clampdown in the rest of the West Garo Hills district following violence which erupted in the town over rumours about an alleged molestation of a girl by a group of five labourers  on June 21 leading to the death of one person.
Following the incident Government ordered a magisterial probe after which tension escalated along the Meghalaya Assam Border and groups from Assam even imposed economic blockade for stopping the supply of essential commodities to Garo Hills.
Meanwhile back in Khasi Jaintia Hills, Police arrested the HANM president Lamphrang Kharbani for allegedly offering money to a lady in exchange of her 13-year-old daughter for his gratification
The situation in Garo Hills was also heating up even as the demand for  a separate Garo land  heightened.
A dawn-to-dusk bandh call  was given by statehood activists in the five districts of Garo Hills. Nineteen students, who tried to enforce the bandh in the Phulbari-Rajabala region were  arrested. They were, however, released on bail later in the day.
While the Garo Hills was burning over the issue of separate state, the situation in Shillong was heating up due to the demand of the pressure groups for  implementation of  Inner Line Permit to check the flow of outsiders into the state.
The important meeting between the State Government and the pressure groups over the issue of ILP failed as the Government opted for the Tenancy Act. The meeting ended in a stalemate leading to agitations and numerous violent cases in the Khasi Jaintia Hills.
Barely two days after talks failed, an attempt was made to torch a shop at Polo. This  was the beginning of a series of arson cases which claimed three lives in the capital city over the last three months.
In Tura too, several statehood activists  demanding separate state stormed the Deputy Commissioner’s office and manhandled government employees besides pelting stones after their plan to head down to the plain belt region to enforce their 12-hour bandh was scuttled. The statehood demand activists besides manhandling a lady government employee also assaulted a senior lower division assistant.
A trader of Shillong Vikash Nandwal who was set ablaze inside his shop at Motphran succumbed to his injuries. In another incident miscreants also poured petrol on the owner of a tea stall at Bishnupur Bisheshwar Das. He too succumbed to burn injuries.
Altogether 121 cases were registered, 87 people were arrested and three people lost their lives in three months of pro ILP agitations. Government set up a fast track court to look into cases of arson and loss of revenue during the four-month old agitation.
The last bandh of the year was also called by the banned outfit HNLC who called a bandh just a fortnight ahead of Christmas on December 23 demanding release of all the miscreants who have been arrested for pro ILP violence.
However, the bandh was completely defied by the people of Shillong and other districts.

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