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Meghalaya police confirm CM Conrad Sangma’s claim that Shillong protests were ‘sponsored’

Clashes had broken out in Shillong between local Khasis and Sikhs earlier this month leading to imposition of indefinite curfew and shutdown of internet.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2018 21:55 IST
Press Trust of India, Shillong
Shillong protests,Shillong curfew,Communal clashes in Shillong
Security personnel patrol a street during curfew after clashes between the residents of the city's Punjabi Line area and Khasi drivers of state-run buses, in Shillong on June 4.(PTI Photo)

The Meghalaya police on Wednesday confirmed chief minister Conrad K Sangma’s claim that recent violent protests in Shillong was “sponsored,” saying that they have also identified some instigators behind the protests.

The picturesque town of Shillong, also called “Scotland of the East” was rattled by violent protests for five days in early June after an assault of a bus handyman and two others at local Punjabi Lane on May 31, leading to imposition of indefinite curfew and shutdown of internet.

The clashes between local Khasis and Sikhs were fuelled by fake news of the bus handyman’s death over social media.

The Army and para-military forces had to be deployed to control the violence which had badly affected tourism in Meghalaya.

“We have been able to identify some of the instigators behind the June first week agitation,” East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police Davis Marak told PTI.

The instigators have been identified on basis of probe and also on statements of the people arrested for being involved in clashes in the hill town, the SP said.

He said further investigation was on and show-cause notices would be issued to the identified instigators.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma earlier had claimed that the protests were “sponsored” through cash-funding and alcohol supply to the agitators after the May 31 incident.

Over 70 stone-pelters were arrested, 20 of whom were released later on bail with strict direction to cooperate with the police in investigation, the SP said.

The SP said more protesters are likely to be arrested in due course of time based on video evidences of their participation in the attack on the police.

The protesters have been booked under various sections of the Meghalaya Maintenance of Public Order (MMPO) Act among others for which they will have to compensate for the losses of both public and private properties.

At least seven police vehicles and three CCTV units installed at Motphran area were damaged during the protest besides arson attacks on private vehicles, he said.

The PWD, the municipal board and other departments are also assessing the damages suffered by footpaths and railings at Motphran area, he said, adding that the total losses incurred will run into several crores.

Though there have been reports of fresh clashes, night curfew is still in force in the entire city as precautionary measure, senior district officials said.

Mobile internet services were restored on Monday last in seven districts of Khasi-Jaintia Hills region, that includes capital Shillong, in view of the improved law and order situation.

The state Home department had re-imposed suspension of mobile internet services on June 16 in the region on a police report, fearing serious law and order problem having potential threats to the public safety.

First Published: Jun 20, 2018 21:29 IST