A week after clashes broke out between local Khasi people and Sikh community members, Shillong is gradually returning to normalcy with no fresh violence reported from anywhere in the city prompting authorities to relax the daytime curfew.
The capital of Meghalaya was gripped by violence since May 29 following an altercation between Sikh residents in the city’s Punjabi Lane area, and Khasi drivers of state-run buses. More than 10 people, including policemen and CRPF personnel, were injured in the clashes.
As in past two days, curfew was relaxed for nine hours in the 14 “vulnerable areas” from 7 am to 4 pm today. Authorities will decide on further relaxation of curfew, Deputy Commissioner, East Khasi Hills, P S Dkhar said.
In other parts of the city, prohibitory orders have been lifted from 5 am and would be restored at 8 pm, he said. Mobile phone messaging service has been reinstated but access to the mobile internet remains suspended, the official said.
The inflow of tourists to Shillong popularly known as “Scotland of the East” has been increasing and vacationers in droves can be seen at tourist hot spots like cathedrals and museums.
Meghalaya Director General of Police S B Singh said the forces will be stationed in the city for some more time and their deployment will be reviewed based on the situation.
“As many as 40 rioters have been arrested for their involvement in stone-pelting incidents which led to the injury of over 100 police personnel during the five days of violent protests,” SP (City) Steve Rynjah told PTI.
He said cases have been registered against them, many of who were under the influence of alcohol, for creating trouble and carrying objects with the intention to hurt police besides damaging public property.
Rynjah himself sustained injuries when he was hit by a rod from behind while trying to help an injured protester. He said some protesters were detained for curfew violation but were later released without any case registered against them.
According to the police, the protesters had come from far-flung areas of different districts like South West Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi to take part in the protest.
Dkhar said rioters will be booked under various sections of the Meghalaya Maintenance of Public Order Act and Meghalaya Police Act for destruction of public and private properties.
The authorities have also directed the states Public Works Department to assess the loss caused in the riots and protests.
As rumour mongering, fanned by social media, led to the protests, the authorities have ordered a magisterial inquiry to probe the incident and identify those who incited the violence.
The report will be submitted within two weeks, Dkhar said.