Guwahati: Meghalaya government in Shillong, which was rattled by the violent street protests on Sunday, when the nation was celebrating 75th Independence Day, decided to maintain the restriction on mobile internet services for some more days, whereas the ongoing curfew in Shillong is scheduled to conclude on Wednesday morning.
State chief minister Conrad Sangma, soon after a high-level meeting in Shillong informed scribes that the curfew was extended for one day to prevent any untoward incident. He also added that the government opined to continue the mobile internet services. Urging the people to maintain peace and tranquillity, Sangma stated that culprits would be punished under the law.
The government also decided to conduct a judicial probe into the incident that led to the death of Cherishterfield Thangkhiew, the former general secretary of separatist armed outfit Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), as a follow-up action by the police after a bomb blast at Laitumkhra market in the capital city.
Street protests along with stone-pelting, vandalism on police vehicles, etc by a group of people in Shillong were witnessed as they joined in a funeral procession of Thangkhiew (56), who was killed in a police encounter on 13 August. The situation turned violent as those agitators wearing black clothes and carrying back flags started vandalism on the street.
Some miscreants even lobbed a petrol bomb at Sangma's private residence, though he along with his family remained safe as they presently live at the government bungalow. Later State home minister Lahkmen Rymbui resigned citing the reason that Thangkhiew was killed with the police highhandedness. However, Sangma is yet to accept his resignation.
The authority promptly imposed a curfew in Shillong and its outskirts along restricting the internet services from evening hours in the districts of East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi. Stray incidents of stone pelting on some vehicles, including the Guwahati bound trucks and private cars, were however reported amidst the curfew.
The surrendered leader of HNLC, the first militant outfit of Meghalaya floated in 1997 that wants to make the State a sovereign country, was killed during a police raid at his house in Mawlai-Kynton Massar locality. Thangkhiew was reportedly killed in retaliatory actions by the police personnel as he attacked the team with a knife. The police also claim to have evidence about his involvement with the Laitumkhra blast.
Various individuals, organisations and political parties including the Meghalaya unit of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), which is an ally to Sangma led National People’s Party (NPP) government in Shillong, condoled the death of Thangkhiew. In a media statement, the saffron party leaders termed his death an irreparable loss to the family and they also prayed for eternal peace of the soul.
Meanwhile, following the deterioration of the law & order situation in the neighbouring State, Assam police asked the commuters not to travel to Shillong till the curfew continues. The situation seems to remain tense for a longer period and it can be assumed from the resignation offer by the home minister himself where he admitted that Thangkhiew was killed by the police exceeding the lawful tenets.
A Shillong based political observer, who wanted anonymity, opined that the incident may have a serious implication in the State. He explained that the HNLC always claims to represent Khasi and Jaintia tribal communities of Meghalaya but they normally avoid embracing the third major matrilineal community named Garo. CM Sangma, the son of former Lok Sabha speaker PA Sangma, is a Garo politician and the attack on his private residence by unruly agitators narrates the story of communal hatreds.