Shillong clash not communal, says CM; curfew relaxed for 7 hrs

Shillong clash not communal, says CM; curfew relaxed for 7 hrs

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma. File photo

Curfew in pockets of Shillong was relaxed for seven hours on Sunday, even as Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said the violence that broke out on Thursday was a local issue and not communal in nature.

A team of Shiromani Akali Dal leaders from Delhi visited the Meghalaya capital in view of the clashes between two communities leaving at least 10 people injured.

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 told a press conference here.

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 are from outside East Khasi Hills district, in which Shillong falls, and they were given alcohol and cash by some people, he said.

The administration exercised restraint in the first 48 hours and met leaders of civil society organisations to ascertain if their members were involved.

"We came to know there is a large number of people who have come here from West Khasi Hills district and many of those nabbed by the police were from outside Shillong," he said.

The administration and the police are on the job to protect every individual, said Sangma, who chaired a meeting of officials of the home department and Director General of Police S B Singh earlier in the day.

Earlier, a SAD team, including MLA Manjinder Singh Sirsa and the party's Delhi unit president Manjit Singh, met the residents of the violence-affected area.

The SAD team also called on the chief minister.

"I am happy to inform you that the delegation was very happy with the response of the state government to ensure that all citizens are given protection," he said.

Officials told PTI that the curfew was promulgated in 14 localities under the jurisdictions of the Lumdiengjri police station and the Cantonment police beat house resumed at 3 pm.

Night curfew will continue in the entire city from 10 pm till 5 am, and Internet and messaging services continue to remain suspended, the official said.

No damage to any gurdwara in Shillong: Rijiju

There has been no damage to any gurdwara or other institutions belonging to the Sikh community in Meghalaya where clashes took place between a group of bus drivers and locals, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said on Sunday.

Rijiju's comments come in the wake of the violence in Shillong on Thursday following which day curfew was imposed in 14 localities early on Friday and night curfew in the entire state capital.

"Beware of rumour-mongers & troublemakers. There was no damage to any Gurdwara or other institutions belonging to the Sikh minority in Meghalaya," he tweeted.

The Union minister of state for home said the law and order situation in Shillong is under control and the state government is "extremely vigilant and settling the case".

The Army had staged flag marches in various localities late on Friday night after the violence.