Shillong, Oct 30 (IANS) Thousands of people took to the streets here on Friday to seek the resignation of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and his ministers and demand re-insertion of a provision in law for legislators to become autonomous district council members.
Even as the state capital of Meghalaya came to a standstill for several hours due to the protest march, the agitators set a November 4 deadline for the Congress-led government to meet their charter of seven demands.
The protest march was organised by the Federation of Village Chiefs of Hynniewtrep (Synjuk Ki Nongsynshar Shnong Ka Bri U Hynniewtrep).
They asked the Sangma government to convene a special assembly session to re-insert an earlier clause in statute that permits legislators to become members of autonomous district council.
The rallyists burned an effigy of Sangma near the additional secretariat and raised slogans against Deputy Chief Minister Rowel Lyngdoh, District Council Affairs Minister H.D.R Lyngdoh and Urban Affairs Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh.
“If our demands are not met before November 4, the federation along with people from across the state will march and demonstrate in front of the main secretariat on November 5,” federation chief Werlock Kharshiing told journalists.
He said in the recent elections to Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), people had rejected Sangma’s leadership.
“People have rejected his leadership in recent GHADC elections. The procession held today (Friday) has clearly demonstrated that the people of Khasi and Jaintia Hills no more have confidence in him,” Kharshiing said.
The federation has been at loggerheads with the government on several issues, including alleged delay by Governor V. Shanmuganathan to give his assent to bills passed by the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) to empower traditional institutions.
Last month, the Meghalaya assembly passed a bill amending the Prevention of Disqualification (Members of the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya) Amendment Bill, 2015, to prohibit people holding a public office from holding another elected office.
They demanded no expansion of Meghalaya Urban Development Authority jurisdiction and no implementation of building bylaws in scheduled areas falling under autonomous district councils preview.
The government was also asked to issue a notification to all block development officers and sub-divisional officers to begin accepting certificates issued by village chiefs as per rules adopted by the councils.