Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma expressed concern over the activities of new militant outfits and those from Assam as a 36-hour shutdown by a proscribed outfit paralysed life in four Khasi-Jaintia districts of the state on Independence Day on Sunday.
Security was tightened amidst reports that a group of militants belonging to the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), which has called for the shutdown, armed with AK56 rifles and grenades had entered the state from Bangladesh to strike in the capital town.
Police said the militants were around the city and security has been tightened to prevent them from carrying out any subversive activities.
A man hunt is on in the suspected areas where the militants might be hiding, the police said.
"While Meghalaya is peaceful in general, there is a need for constant vigil and the government will take all steps to ensure peace and stability," Sangma said after unfurling the tricolor at the Polo Grounds amidst tight security.
"Recent developments and attempts to form new militant groups in the Garo hills and the activities of Assam-based militant groups along the inter-state border areas are a cause of concern," Sangma said.
Sangma in his speech claimed that improved relations between India and Bangladesh have had a dampening impact on the morale of unlawful and terrorist groups like HNLC and Liberation Achik Elite Force.
"It is necessary to strengthen and modernise the police force to take care of all eventualities. The recruitment of personnel for the 6th Meghalaya Police Battalion will start within a few weeks," he said.
Referring to Achik National Volunteer Council, which is currently in a ceasefire, Sangma said consultations between the Centre and the state have been taken forward and fast tracked for arriving at a durable settlement.
The shutdown paralysed normal life in parts of the state and in the capital town, where the prime market areas wore a deserted look. Vehicular movement was also sparse.
Enthusiasm marked the Independence Day celebrations in three districts of Garo hills.
Assembly Speaker Charles Pyngrope unfurled the national flag at Tura in West Garo Hills.