The state capital of Meghalaya – Shillong is limping back to normalcy after a weeklong of unrest which erupted due to the petite road skirmish rip out from the most common dispute like traffic congestion and fetching drinking water from the unmanned water pipeline at Them Iew-Mawlong between a woman of the locality and a driver of Shillong Public Transport Service bus parked in the area, which led to an assault of three persons on May 31, who is the bus conductor, the sons and a nephew of the driver. But things were blown out of proportions as the rumors got the best of the situation through the social media resulting to imposition of curfew in the state capital after 15 years.
Yes from the normal squabble as the lady wanted to collect the water at about 9:30am on that fateful day, which the parked Bus is obstructing her way have demanded that the bus to moved, but the driver, leaving three minors in the bus went for a cup of tea at the wayside stall, hence, the minor expressed their helplessness as none is a driver, the angry lady left the bus, only to returned with five male armed with sticks and assaulted the three boys, who sustained minor injuries, as the driver comeback to the bus was traumatized to see the boys lying on the floor and bleeding, with the help of the bystander and vendors rushed the boys to the City Hospital for first-aid, and latter filed an FIR.
While in Police Station, the driver was informed that there is a huge commotion at the place of occurrence, as various Civil Societies and other activists were objecting that the indigenous boys were assaulted by the youths of the locality happen to be the Punjabis of the Shillong’s Punjabi Lane that is also known as the Sweeper’s Colony, immediately revived about three decades old demand for the removal of the colony have lead to outbreak of Law and Order (L&O) in the adjacent localities like Mawkhar, Mawkhar, Umsohsun and Iewduh (Bara Bazaar) leading to imposition of Night Curfew, but the violence were not subsiding have further extended the curfew to Greater Shillong by the District Magistrate, East Khasi Hills.
The Opposition Congress Leader, Dr Mukul Manda Sangma, was quick to react and being vocal in stating that the Ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) led by National People’s Party (NPP) headed by Conrad Kongkal Sangma is incapable to tackle the Law and Order situation in the state capital, and also demanded Judicial Inquiry into the incident, which was turned down by the government stating that as the reason leading to the occurrence is well known.
While the Former Home Minister, Robert G Lyngdoh while speaking to the Media in Assam termed the new trend of ‘mercenary agitators’ as dangerous, he stated for the first time the state capital witnessed such agitators encroaching and were supported by someone from outside to agitate at a price which will surely debacle the administrative structure of the peaceful state.
This incident have turned into an Acid Test for MDA, even before Conrad could flaunt his achievement on his 100 days in office by June 14, as he had done his best to impressed the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government led by Narendra Damodardas Modi with different proposal, starting by participating in Act East Policy, but his proposal for Work permit for Bangladeshi Migrants have sparked off recent in the state.
He had also picked up the ambitious project for the upcoming 39th National Games in 2022 which the state will host, also marking the Golden Jubilee of the statehood are just a few to added up as a glossy report card for his first 100 days in office.
The unfortunate incident occurred on May 31 just few weeks before his 100th days in office have really put a black mark in his report card as a failure to maintained L&O in the state capital. He is also yet to be elected to the state Assembly, this incident is not only an Acid Test for his government, also his ability as Chief Minister, giving his a slice as how difficult to ran this small sleepy hills state.
In the case of District Administration, the seven days of hectic exercise, starting with the imposition of Night Curfew to blocking of Internet and SMSs as an attempt to curbed the wild spread of rumours via social media, have not only caused heavy loss to the Service Providers and the communication network, many other services of E-transaction went for a toss. The Universities and Educational Institutions in the city have adopted the social media and communication services were like a handicapped as the change of examination scheduled and the safety of the students could not be communicated to the parents and students have exposed them to unknown danger.
The District Magistrate, East Khasi Hills, Peter S Dkhar, who have performed many duties as young officer during the L&O breakdown and Curfew, this time could not mobilized the government machineries to assist his, hence the sensitive jurisdiction, particularly under Lumdiengjri Police Station areas, which also have Hospitals, Government offices, Educational Institutions, banking institutions were in total standstill for the last seven days, none could moved out during the curfew hours, even with the Curfew Pass for the personnel of Essential Services like the Media persons, para medical practitioners, electricity board and telecommunication services were prevented to moved.
Meghalaya have witnessed maximum curfew during the tenure of Margaret R Mawlong, I.A.S (1988 -1991) where at the dropped of any incident, she will claim curfew, but the relaxation hours were communicated via All India Radio, than come the tenure of G P Wahlang, I.A.S ( 1991-1994) he had converted the Police Control Room in Sardar Police Station as the Press Briefing Room every night during curfew hours, such that only the confirmed information will be published in the next day newspapers.
Hence the last seven days of curfew bound Shillong have turned into an acid test for both the Conrad government and his government machineries, where the Subordinates officers deployed in the conflict zone were not properly brief, as for the last 15 years most of the experienced Police Personnel have been either retired or promoted, the young blood were in a lost, and with the additional central forces being deployed, the respective police station should also provide one local police officials for easy communication, otherwise, like in the past the miscommunication might lead to lathi charges and flare up the situation further. The incumbent Director General of Police, Dr. S.B. Singh has enough experience of such incident during his earlier services in the state capital as Superintendent of Police, should have instructed his official to take special cares of such mistakes in the past.
The Conrad Government, particularly the Home Department need to gear up and mobilize its organs and restore normalcy at the earliest and avoid the miscarriage of duties as the history has recorded as the failure of maintaining of Law and Order in Meghalaya.