Tura: In an unprecedented situation, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, along with his cabinet colleague, Public Health Engineering (PHE) Minister Marcusie Marak, and senior officials of the Government were stuck inside the premises of the Mini Secretariat at Tura after an unruly crowd of protesters became violent and attacked the secretariat itself.
At least five police personnel were also injured as thousands began to pelt stones at the secretariat. The violent mob even attacked the ambulances posted for the service of the hunger strikers. The crowd threw whatever it could find nearby while the ambulances posted there were also burnt. The mob also manhandled the hunger strikers, and the pandal where the protest was being undertaken was also burnt down by the mob.
Meghalaya Government has imposed Section 144 and a night curfew in Tura town after the violence broke down outside the Chief Minister’s office.
Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma said, “The incident which took place in Tura outside the CM’s secretariat is very very unfortunate. We had discussed with a couple of NGOs who were fasting for the last few days on their demands and while the discussion was going on and finally agreed to meet in Shillong with all stakeholders. The discussion was almost over. We heard some slogans and the mob started pelting stones from outside and asked some people to speak and control the situation, however, while approaching, the NGO leaders claimed that they had no idea who the people were and had never seen them before.”
Following reports of violence, a large contingent of policemen and CRPF personnel were rushed to the site. To quell the violence, tear gas shells were thrown to disperse the crowd, which seemed to have had little effect on the situation. As per reports, more than 1000 ‘vested interest’ persons, as per the organisers, were behind the violence that has rocked that section of Tura. A’chik Conscious Holistic Integrated Krima (ACHIK ) has been on a 13-day hunger strike over the twin demands of setting up a Winter Capital in the town of Tura as well as the clearance of a backlog of jobs meant for the Garo community.
As per police sources, it has been difficult to decipher the reason for the violence that has seen the CM being stuck in his office.
According to Tura police, the meeting began at 3:30 pm on July 24, wherein a partial solution had been worked out. The meeting ended at almost 6 pm. However, just before the end of the meeting, an agitation broke out with protesters sloganeering and rubbishing the current NPP-led Government.
The NGO members were asked to speak to the agitating groups, but after returning, the hunger strike organisers said they were unaware of most of the group and had yet to hear their words. Chaos broke out immediately after, with the mob pelting stones, bricks and whatever they could lay their hands on.
The CM himself was within the premises when the violence began and did not leave till the writing of this report. At least five policemen, including one lady police and a woman home guard, were injured during the violence.
“I am still here overseeing matters. As a lot of our people have been injured I don’t want to leave them in this condition. The situation is improving and hopefully normalcy will resume,” CM Sangma told the media. Meanwhile, following reports of violence, shops in the other parts of the town of Tura downed shutters almost immediately.