Meghalaya Home Minister H D R Lyngdoh today said the state government is ready to hold talks with those groups opposing railway projects in the Khasi Jaintia Hills region. The Home Minister’s statement comes days after seven Khasi Students Union activists were arrested for an attack at a railway construction site in Ri-Bhoi district and sporadic petrol bomb attacks in the state capital here. “The government can consider having a dialogue but violence and acts of vandalism must end first,” the Home Minister told PTI. He said although the KSU leaders had sought an appointment with him demanding the state government to hold a dialogue with the influential students body, he could not meet them as he was not in station. The KSU had openly aired their opposition to the extension of the railways in the eastern Khasi Jaintia Hills region of the state for fear of influx of outsiders.
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Maintaining that the state government has “no say” on the project, Lyngdoh said the railway is a Central subject and the state is tasked with ensuring that law and order is maintained. Last month, several labourers were injured and heavy machineries of a railway construction company were destroyed at a remote village in Ri-Bhoi district when a mob led by KSU activists attacked the construction site. Apart from three vehicles damaged in separate attacks by unidentified miscreants, a government-owned organic tea factory at Umsning in Ri-Bhoi district inaugurated by Chief Minister Mukul Sangma recently was also set on fire. Though the fire was doused on time, horticulture officer Marbakynsai Marbaniang said the loss is estimated to be about Rs 25 lakh. Ri-Bhoi district Superintendent of Police, Ramesh Singh said the matter is under inquiry and the police are trying to trace the miscreants involved in the crime.