Headmen’s rally turns violent

 Protesters vent their ire on a barricade during the rally. (ST)
 ) Protesters vent their ire on a barricade during the rally. (ST)
) A protestor pelts stones on police personnel at the Civil Hospital junction on Thursday. (R)
(L) A protestor pelts stones on police personnel at the Civil Hospital junction on Thursday.(ST)

SHILLONG: A purported peaceful rally called by the Synjuk ki Nongsynshar Shnong ka Bri u Hynniewtrep (SNSBH), the headmen’s association, on Thursday turned violent when a section of the crowd started pelting stones on police personnel compelling the security forces to resort to use of tear gas and mild lathicharge.
As many as 10 constables reportedly sustained minor injuries while a few from the crowd were also hurt even though police said, “We are yet to get reports in this regard.”
A PWD Central Division Engineer, whose identity police did not reveal, was taken into custody after he allegedly pelted stones on the police personnel from inside the PWD premises. He was, however, let off after some time.
Stones pelted on a Tezpur bound Assam State Transport Corporation bus from Shillong damaged its windshield; however, there was no injury to the passengers.
The violence took place after the headmen addressed the huge gathering of the outcome of the meeting between Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, senior government functionaries and representatives of the SNSBH, in which they (headmen) expressed dissatisfaction over the non fulfillment of their demands and also the delay in giving nod to the VAB and review of the dual post bill.
Following this, a section of the crowd went berserk and resorted to violence leading to mayhem.
Police personnel chase the protestors to others parts of the city to ensure a semblance of normalcy.
Thursday’s rally was in stark contrast to the peaceful rally called by the SNSBH on October 30.
Following their meeting with the chief minister, leaders of the Synjuk Ki Nongsynshar Shnong announced the outcome of the meeting.
The crowd disagreed with hands in the air swaying from side to side signifying a defiant ‘no’ to the announcements made by president of the Synjuk, W.R. Kharshiing.
When the headmen were addressing the crowd, a couple of stones were thrown from the crowd towards the police barricades.
Despite being urged by the traditional heads to maintain discipline, a section of the crowd resorted to hooliganism forcing the police to fire tear gas cannons in the air which led to the assemblage being dispersed haphazardly.
Resistance from the crowd heated up when the traditional heads urged the people to return to the venue, Laban Sports Club, and the crowd responded by pelting stones which led the police to fire tear gas cannons.
“The police did their best to provide security but the violence came to the fore when the crowd disagreed to the announcements made,” East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner, P.S. Dkhar, said, adding that security will be beefed up for the next few days to prevent any untoward incident.
Following the violent incidents, the East Khasi Hills district administration has filed an FIR with the police and asked the district police chief to conduct the inquiry into the same.
He said that as per initial reports, a section of the crowd was unhappy with the decisions announced by the Synjuk leaders and started yelling and pelting stones.
East Khasi Hills SP M. Kharkrang, meanwhile, informed that 10 police personnel including five women were injured.
The women police personnel bore the brunt of the stone pelting as they were the ones in the first line of barricade,” Kharkrang said, adding that stone pelting resulted in damages to the Special Purpose Vehicle of Police.
Some of the injured cops have been identified as Sebarian Lyngkhoi, J. Kharmuti, Menu Sangma, Phelgamson Sangma, Prakash Ch Momin, Mandery Lyngkhoi, KB Chetri, Silseg Momin, Wanisha War and M. Basaiawmoit.
Headmen admit failing responsibility
The Synjuk Ki Nongsynshar Shnong ka Bri u Hynniewtrep (SNSBH) has admitted to failing in their responsibility to control the crowd which resorted to violence in the city on Thursday afternoon.
SNSBH president W.R. Kharshiing admitted that they had tried their best to ensure that no untoward incident takes but people were restless due to the delay in the passage of the VABs.
He said that they wanted to avoid any unpleasant incident but a group of young people in the gathering became agitated.
Terming the incident as unfortunate, he regretted it and said that the incident should not have happened.
“We do not know who these people are and it would be difficult for us to pinpoint who these people are,” Kharshiing said.
Reacting to a query on the supporters being unhappy with the outcome of the meeting, Kharshiing said those who are not happy do not understand the law.
“It is difficult for the State government to do anything when the matter is pending with the Ministry of Home Affairs,” he added.
He further stated that the traditional heads had met the Deputy Commissioner and expressed their   sadness over the violence in the city.

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