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Shillong Unrest: Central Forces Called in After Fresh Clashes, Curfew Imposed Across City

Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said in New Delhi that no damage had been caused to any gurdwara or other institutions belonging to the Sikh community in Meghalaya.


Updated:June 4, 2018, 6:23 PM IST

Shillong: About 1,000 central paramilitary personnel have been sent to Meghalaya to tackle the situation in Shillong, which has been on edge following clashes between residents of the city's Punjabi Line area and Khasi drivers of state-run buses.

Top officials of the Union Home Ministry were also in touch with the state government officials and getting regular information about the prevailing situation in the Meghalaya capital. Adequate forces have been sent to Shillong to control the situation as per the request of the state government, a ministry official said.

Another official said around 10 companies of paramilitary forces have been sent to Meghalaya. A company of paramilitary force comprises 100 personnel.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has said the violence that broke out on Thursday was a local issue and not communal in nature, even as curfew was reimposed in all areas of the city as there were reports of fresh violence.

A police vehicle came under attack and necessitated the need for the curfew to be put in place all over the city in contrast to the last few days when it was clamped in some localities.

Parts of the Meghalaya capital was under curfew on Saturday following clashes between police and locals all through Friday. Late on Friday night, the Army carried out a flag march in various localities.

Earlier, a team of Shiromani Akali Dal leaders from Delhi visited the Meghalaya capital in view of the clashes involving residents of the Punjabi Line area and employees of state-run buses belonging to the Khasi community. The Punjab government has also sent a team here.

The East Khasi Hills district authorities relaxed the curfew from 8 am to 3 pm to allow churchgoers to attend Sunday services, officials said.

"The problem is very much in a particular locality, on a particular issue. It just happened that two particular communities were involved, but it's not a communal thing," Sangma said.

The clashes in parts of Shillong were given a communal colour by vested groups and a section of the media outside the state, he said.

A number of those arrested in connection with the violence were from outside East Khasi Hills district, in which Shillong falls, Sangma said.

The chief minister said, "Money and liquor were given to people to indulge in violence. We have evidence of it".

Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju said in New Delhi that no damage had been caused to any gurdwara or other institutions belonging to the Sikh community in Meghalaya.

The Amarinder Singh government in Punjab also decided to rush a four-member team to the Meghalayan capital.

The team would make a ground assessment of the situation in the troubled areas and extend help to the Sikh community there, an official spokesperson said in Chandigarh.

Sangma had called up the Punjab chief minister on Friday night to apprise him of the situation.

Singh has offered all help to the Meghalaya government in ensuring security to the Dalit Sikhs, whose ancestors were reportedly brought to Shillong during the British era.

Officials told PTI here that the curfew which was promulgated in 14 localities in areas in the Lumdiengjri police station and the Cantonment police beat house will continue.

The Army, kept on standby, had conducted flag marches in various localities after the violence left at least 10 people, including policemen, injured.

The violence erupted after a bus handyman was beaten up by a group of residents of the area on Thursday afternoon.

Trouble escalated when rumours spread on social media that the handyman had succumbed to injuries, prompting a group of bus drivers to converge in the Punjabi Line area. The police had to fire teargas shells to disperse them.

The handyman and three injured persons were taken to a hospital where they were administered first-aid.

Violence occurred in Shillong on Friday and Saturday too. Four people were arrested.

(With PTI inputs)

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