The local administration reduced the timings of the curfew imposed in Shillong by two hours on Wednesday, The Indian Express reported.
Curfew was first imposed in parts of the city on Friday when violence broke out between members of the dominant Khasi community and long-time Punjabi residents living in a settlement in the heart of the city. The settlement is commonly known as Punjabi Line. The violence was sparked by an altercation between a Khasi bus driver and a Sikh resident of the settlement on May 31. The Khasis are demanding that the residents of Punjabi Line be moved to an area on the outskirts of Shillong.
No fresh clashes have been reported in the last 24 hours, officials said. The district administration said the evening curfew on Wednesday will be imposed two hours later – from 6 pm to 5 am on Thursday. The continuous curfew imposed since Friday in 14 troubled areas will be relaxed for five hours from 7 am to noon on Wednesday, a statement said. Internet services on cellphones are still restricted.
Relocation proposal questioned
On Tuesday, the Meghalaya government set up a high-level panel to study a demand to relocate the settler population from Punjabi Line. The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council said it will study the land documents of Punjabi Line (Them Iew Mawlong) and send its suggestions to the high-level committee, The Shillong Times reported.
A member of the National Commission for Minorities has questioned the proposal to relocate the settler community. “How can they be shifted as they have been residing there for a long time,” asked Manjit Singh Rai. The official said he would submit a report to the Centre based on his meeting with the chief minister, officials and residents of Punjabi Line.
United Sikhs, a United States-registered organisation, has also demanded that the Meghalaya government find another solution to the unrest, the Hindustan Times reported. “Sikhs had never been asked to leave Islamic countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq or Pakistan but are being asked to leave their homes in a Shillong neighbourhood that they have lived in for decades,” said Mohinderjit Singh, who led the delegation of United Sikhs.
Impact on daily life
The unrest has hurt the state’s tourism industry, which is a major contributor to revenues in Meghalaya. “The recent happenings has hit the tourism industry,” President of North East India Tourism Confederation EB Blah told The Economic Times. The restrictions have also led to a rise in the price of vegetables, The Assam Tribune reported.
The Army conducted a flag march through troubled areas in the state’s capital. Nineteen paramilitary companies have been deployed to maintain law and order in the city, the Hindustan Times reported.
The Congress has criticised the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance for “messing up” the peace within 100 days of taking over the government.