Army holds flag march in restive Shillong

Army holds flag march in restive Shillong

Securitymen stand guard a street during curfew in Shillong on Saturday. PTI

Curfew continued in parts of Shillong for the second day on Saturday as the Army, requisitioned by the state government, conducted flag marches in disturbed areas.

The troops also rescued about 500 people, including 200 women and children following a night-long violence and arson during which a mob torched a shop, a house and damaged at least five vehicles here, besides injuring a senior police officer, officials said on Saturday.

The rescued civilians were given food and water and have been sheltered at the Army cantonment here, Defence spokesperson Ratnakar Singh said.

General Officer Commanding 101 Area Lt Gen D S Ahuja visited the affected people at the Army cantonment.

Superintendent of Police (City) Stephan Rynjah sustained injuries on Friday night after he was hit by a rod. He has been admitted to Shillong Civil Hospital, a senior police officer said.

At least 10 people, including policemen, have been injured in the violence, which has triggered demands that the government takes action against the reported illegal settlers in the area.

State police personnel were attacked by stone pelters in the Motphran area of the city.

Teargas shells were used to disperse rioters but people in other parts of the city mistook them for police firing, the officer said.

The clashes had begun after a bus handyman was reportedly assaulted by a group of residents of Them Metor 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 at Them Metor. The police had to fire teargas shells to disperse them, officials said.

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

The East Khasi Hills district authorities had imposed night curfew in the entire city from 10 pm till 5 am to maintain peace and prevent arson, they said.

Four persons, accused of being involved in the assault of three local boys, have been arrested, they said. As many as 11 people have been picked up in connection with the case so far.

Meanwhile, suspension of Internet services has been extended by 24 hours till Sunday afternoon to prevent the spread of rumours.

The Home Department will review the overall situation on Saturday.

The curfew, which was imposed since 4 am Friday in at least 14 localities under Lumdiengjri police station and Cantonment Beat House, continues, District deputy commissioner P S Dkhar said.

He said that there was no curfew in Police Bazaar and Iew Duh (Bara Bazaar) areas even as shops, schools and banks in these areas remained closed.

Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who chaired a high-level meeting on Friday, had appealed for calm and urged the people to help bring back normalcy in Shillong.

Meanwhile, several groups including the Khasi Students Union (KSU), the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) and the Hynniewtrep Youth Council demanded that those involved in the assault of local boys be punished and the illegal settlers at Them Metor evicted.