Army stages flag march in Shillong, security breached in Secretariat

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Shillong, June 4 (IANS) The Army on Monday staged a flag march in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong as violence continued in tension-hit areas overnight, with mobs indulging in stone-pelting on security forces.

Authorities clamped night curfew from 4 p.m. on Monday to 5 a.m. Tuesday fearing that the trouble may spread to other parts of the city.

Half hour before the curfew came into effect, there was a breach of security in the state Secretariat when a group of hawkers comprising of men and women barged in to meet Chief Minister Conrad Sangma seeking to resolve the ongoing crisis that has affected the vendors.

“One Army column marched across Shillong to help bring the situation under control,” Director General of Police Swaraj Bir Singh told IANS.

“The situation is very tense in (tension-hit areas),” he said.

The district authorities suspended Internet on mobile services and banned the illegal sale of petrol and diesel.

On June 1, the district magistrate imposed curfew in areas under Lumdiengjri police station and Cantonment Beat House in view of the breakdown of law and order in Motphran, Mawkhar and adjoining areas following the May 31 violence involving members of the Punjabi and Khasi communities.

Although, the curfew was relaxed for seven hours from 8 a.m. on Sunday, the mob continued to pelt stones at security forces forcing the police to fire tear gas shells.

The mob also attacked a prison van, Inspector General of Police H. Nongpluh said.

Chief Minister Sangma held several rounds of meetings with leaders of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance coalition government as well as a delegation of leaders from the Punjab government led by Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa.

Senior Congress legislator Charles Pyngrope said: “We have deliberated on the need to relocate the people from the sweeper lane to a location which will not affect anybody.”

Emerging frm the meeting with various groups, Sangma said that the government had decided to set up a high-level committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong to find a permanent solution to the long pending issue of relocation of the sweeper colony.

Meanwhile, Randhawa and his team urged Chief Minister Sangma to provide protection and safety to the Sikh community and their religious institutions in the state.

“We were assured by Chief Minister that the Meghalaya Government is taking all possible measures to ensure the security of the Sikh community in Meghalaya,” the Punjab Minister said.

On the demand to relocate the Sikh people from Sweepers Lane, the Punjab Minister said: “It is a local issue and the matter of relocating them is sub-judice.”



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