Army on standby in Shillong following communal clashes as mobs defy curfew orders
Offices in Shillong witnessed scanty attendance and people prepared for the eventuality of an extended curfew by shopping for essentials. Skirmishes and standoffs were reported throughout the day with police firing tear gas shells to thwart mobs trying to enter areas under curfew.Updated: Jun 01, 2018 23:40 IST
Shillong residents stayed off the streets on Friday and the army was kept on standby after curfew was imposed in some parts of the city following clashes between two communities the day before.
Offices witnessed scanty attendance and people prepared for the eventuality of an extended curfew by shopping for essentials. Brief skirmishes and standoffs were reported throughout the day with police firing tear gas shells at regular intervals to thwart mobs trying to enter areas under curfew.
The areas include Jaiaw, Mawkhar, Umsohsun, Riatsamthiah,Wahingdoh, Mission, Mawprem, Lumdiengjri, Ama Villa, Qualapaty, Wahthapbru, Sunny Hill, Cantonment and parts of Mawlong Hat.
Several cases of arson were reported in the troubled areas and the main market place, Bara Bazaar, near Motphran, the epicentre of the clashes that started after an altercation over a bus being parked near a water tap. There were reports of stone pelting and lobbing of petrol bombs as well and scores of rioters were arrested, police said.
Several civilians as well as security personnel were injured in the clashes. The injured include Superintendent of Police (City) Steve Rynjah who was clubbed on the back of the neck during a confrontation.
State police, supported by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and the elite SF10 commandos of the Meghalaya police, were pressed into service. The district administration has requested the army to remain on standby should the need arise for a flag march to establish order in the troubled areas.
Trouble began in Motphran, a commercial centre, on Thursday after a driver parked a bus near a water tap and went for tea, leaving behind his two sons in the vehicle. A group wanting the bus to moved accosted the boys and assaulted them when they couldn’t shift the vehicle. One boy was injured and had to be taken to hospital. Later in the day, a group of drivers converged at Motphran and a retaliatory clash ensued.
Police have arrested a person believed to be involved in assaulting one of the boys and are interrogating him, East Khasi Hills SP Davis NR Marak said.
“Therefore, with the arrest made, we hope it would de-escalate the situation,” he said, while adding that a woman seen in video footage instigating the crowd to launch the attack is under the scanner. “If it is found that the woman instigated to create this kind of problem or riot, definitely we will take action against her.”
Additional chief secretary in-charge, home, MS Rao, was optimistic that the violence would soon be contained and that normalcy would soon be restored in the hill station. “We are monitoring the situation very closely and not leaving anything to chance,” Rao told HT while urging the public to “remain calm and not fall prey to rumours”.
First Published: Jun 01, 2018 23:37 IST