Ten pressure groups in Meghalaya announced that they would continue protests demanding the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to regulate the entry of outsiders in the state. The pressure groups have have threatened agitation from 4 to 6 September with road blockades from 9 PM to 5 AM in the morning.
Normal life came to a standstill in Meghalaya during a 12-hour bandh on 2 September following the failure of talks with the government on the implementation of the ILP. Most government establishments, including financial and educational institutions, and shops remained closed in all the 11 district headquarters. Attendance in all government offices including the secretariat remained thin. Few ministers came to their office in the secretariat.
Addressing a press conference in state capital Shillong on 2 September, Principal Secretary, Home, KS Kropha said that government offices recorded only 25 percent turnout in the whole state. The Principal Secretary said that by and large, the bandh passed peacefully without any major incident except for stone pelting in the capital city.
Meanwhile, Meghalaya Home Minister Roshan Warjri claimed that the overall law and order situation in the state was under control. She made the statement despite the fact that many vehicles had been torched in the last four days. Besides, there were several attempts to burn down houses, shops and government offices in various localities of Shillong and other districts of the state. When asked if the government was considering requesting additional forces from the centre, the minister said that they were looking into the matter and that they would soon take a call depending on the situation. She issued a strong warning to the perpetrators of violence and reiterated that the government wanted to bring in an alternative law in the form of a strong tenancy law. She also sought the cooperation of all stakeholders including the District Council and traditional institutions in the proposed act.
According to government sources, the police intensified vigil in the city and police personnel were seen manning vulnerable areas of the city to prevent any untoward incident. Children were seen playing games on the deserted roads of the city. The PWD in Nongpoh and Veterinary Integrated Cattle Development offices in Umling in Ri Bhoi district were partially burnt when miscreants hurled petrol bombs at them. The incident took place at around 2.30 am on 2 September, just two-and-a-half hours before the commencement of the twelve-hour bandh. Ri Bhoi SP, CVS Reddy informed that the miscreants also broke window panes of the buildings and the fire damaged some old records in the offices. Reddy said that the police had arrested one person suspected of involvement in the incident and were interrogating him . He added that the police has beefed up security in all the government offices in Ri Bhoi district.
Briefing reporters after the bandh on Monday, East Khasi hills SP M Kharkhrang informed, “We have arrested fourteen people from different parts of the city.” He added that most of the arrested were members of the Khasi Students Union (KSU) and Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF).
(With inputs from Purbasha Bhattacharjee in Shillong)