Militancy is once again rearing its head in Meghalaya as cabinet ministers and legislators have received demands and extortion notes from the banned outfit Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC). The developments come against the backdrop of state home minister Lahkmen Rymbui resigning from his post recently following tensions over the killing of surrendered HNLC member Cherishterfield Thangkhiew in a police operation.
Chief minister Conrad K Sangma on Friday admitted that cabinet ministers and legislators of the state have received demand notes from the outlawed outfit and assured that steps are being taken to stop the extortion racket.
“Yes, ministers and MLAs also had received this (notes)…how they had received this and other inputs from them have already been collected,” the CM told reporters.
He was reacting to a statement made by leader of opposition Mukul Sangma that legislators including ministers have been served demand notes, while expressing concern over the prevailing law and order situation in the state.
Authorities have imposed restrictions on movement and communications after violence erupted in Mawlai and Jaiaw areas of Shillong following the death of Thangkhiew. Unidentified miscreants hurled petrol bombs at the private residence of CM Sangma late on Sunday. A vehicle carrying CRPF personnel was attacked by protesters in Mawlai area. Following this, Rymbui resigned from the home minister’s post on Sunday. Sangma had the next day announced a judicial investigation into the death of 54-year-old Thangkhiew.
Terming it an extortion racket of the outfit, the chief minister on Friday said, “Whether it is SMSes received from political leaders, businessmen, from individuals, from common people…all these messages that have come in terms of extortion…has led to us as a government and more importantly the police department doing a large amount of investigation.”
He added that a close watch has been kept on the movement of some individuals.
“But I will be risking the investigation at this point in time…I can just tell you and give an assurance to everybody that a large amount of work is being done and a lot of steps have been taken by the police department to ensure this (extortion activity) comes to a stop,” said the CM.
He also argued that one cannot conclude the recent law and order situation is giving life to the HNLC. “I am not saying there is no issue. There are issues and we are working to resolve them,” he stated.