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Meghalaya home minister resigns, curfew in Shillong as violence erupts

  • Published at 08:37 am August 16th, 2021
Google map of Meghalaya

The curfew came into effect from 8pm, local time, on Sunday and will stay in effect till 5am on August 17

Meghalaya Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui resigned from his post on Sunday after the killing of a surrendered militant of a banned insurgent group by the police, PTI reported.

Rymbui’s decision came hours after mob violence and arson on Independence Day forced the district magistrate of East Khasi Hills to impose a curfew in the Shillong Agglomeration area, which includes the state capital and adjoining regions.

The curfew came into effect from 8pm, local time, on Sunday and will stay in effect till 5am on August 17, an order issued by the state government said.

The Meghalaya home ministry also imposed a 48-hour ban on internet services in the four districts of East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi. The internet ban came into effect from 6 pm.

Tensions escalated in Shillong and nearby areas after Cheristerfield Thangkhiew, one of the founders of the Hynñiewtrep National Liberation Council, was killed during a police raid in his home in Shillong on Saturday.

In a letter to Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, Rymbui urged him to initiate a judicial inquiry into the incident.

“I hereby express shock to the incident where Chesterfield Thangkhiew was killed following the raid of police at his residence exceeding the lawful tenets of the law,” Rymbui wrote.

Eyewitnesses quoted by The Shillong Times said that a group of unidentified people pelted stones at a police vehicle on Sunday afternoon near Mawlai bypass in the Meghalaya capital.

The attackers, some of whom were carrying arms, took control of the vehicle after the policemen fled. They later torched the vehicle and vandalised gates of police outposts. 

Stones were also pelted at vehicles plying on the Guwahati-Shillong highway, according to The Shillong Times.

Petrol bombs were thrown at Sangma’s home, according to NDTV. However, nobody was injured as the chief minister stays at his official residence.

Hundreds joined Thangkhiew’s funeral procession in Shillong, and local organisations called for a “black flag day” to protest his killing, The Indian Express reported. 

Family members and supporters of Thangkhiew have accused the police of extra-judicial killing. They also described it as a “cold-blooded murder.”

However, the police claimed that he was shot at during a scuffle with members of security forces raiding his home.

Meghalaya Director General of Police R Chandranathan said that there was evidence to link Cheristerfield Thangkhiew to two recent improvised explosive device blasts claimed by the Hynñiewtrep National Liberation Council.

He said that Cheristerfield Thangkhiew was shot in his abdomen after he tried to stab one of the constables during the raid. He later died at the hospital, Chandranathan claimed.

The police also claimed to have seized a 9 mm pistol, one knife, a laptop and a number of mobile phones and incriminating documents from his home.

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