Unrest in Meghalaya over ex-militant’s encounter; CM Sangma’s home attacked, Home Minister quits

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Updated: August 16, 2021 9:23 AM

The authorities have imposed curfew and stopped mobile internet in at least four districts of Meghala amid vandalism and arson over the encounter.

The authorities have imposed curfew and stopped mobile internet in at least four districts of Meghala amid vandalism and arson over the encounter.

The police shooting of a former militant in Meghalaya has led to unrest and incidents of sporadic violence in the state, leading to the resignation of Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui. 

Meanwhile, the authorities imposed curfew and stopped mobile internet in at least four districts of the state amid vandalism and arson over the encounter. This came after petrol bombs were thrown at Sangma’s residence on Sunday. No injury was reported in the incident as the house was vacant. The chief minister stays in his official residence.

Mobile internet was stopped for 48 hours, beginning at 6 pm Sunday, in East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi districts, officials said.

Stray incidents of vandalism and arson were reported, having the potential to disturb public peace and tranquility and cause a threat to public safety, Home Secretary CVD Diengdoh said, quoting reports from the police headquarters. 

Following his resignation, Rymbui urged the chief minister to order judicial inquiry into the shooting of Cheristerfield Thangkhiew, the self-styled general secretary of the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council who had surrendered.

“I hereby express shock to the incident where (L) Chesterfield Thangkhiew was killed following the raid of police at his residence exceeding the lawful tenets of the law,” he stated in his letter to the chief minister.

“I would like to request you to relieve the Home (Police) Department from me with immediate effect. This will facilitate free and fair inquiry taken by the government to bring out the truth of the incident. I propose judicial inquiry be conducted,” he added.

According to the police, Thangkhiew was suspected to be the mastermind of a spate of IED attacks since his surrender in 2018. Director-General of Police R Chandranathan said there was ample evidence against Thangkhiew when he sent his team to arrest the “retired” general-secretary of the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC).

Thangkhiew allegedly attacked the police with a knife when his home was being raided, provoking a retaliatory shot in which he was killed, Chandranathan had said.

Hundreds of his supporters carried black flags as his body was taken to the cemetery. Government vehicles were vandalised and a police vehicle was set on fire at Jaiaw area of Shillong allegedly by his supporters, police said.

Banning mobile internet, the chief secretary said, “Messaging systems like SMS, Whatsapp and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are likely to be used for transmission of pictures, videos and text and have the potential to cause serious breakdown of law and order.”

The curfew was imposed in Shillong through an order issued by East Khasi Hills district administrator Isawanda Laloo.

The Meghalaya Human Right Commission has also taken suo moto cognisance of the encounter, noting, “The instant case appears to have resulted in gross human rights violation which according to Article 21 of the Constitution mandates for protection of life and personal liberty for every person within the territory of India.”

The commission has directed the chief secretary to submit a detailed report on the incident within 15 days, failing which the commission has said it will conduct its own investigation into the matter.

(With inputs from agencies)

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