The Meghalaya Police on Wednesday backed Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s claim that the violent protests in Shillong between members of the dominant Khasi community and Sikh residents of the Punjabi Line settlement were “sponsored”.

The violence was sparked by an altercation between a Khasi bus driver and a Sikh resident. The Khasis have for long demanded that the Sikhs of Punjabi Line be moved to an area on the city’s outskirts. Security forces had to be deployed to quell the violence.

“We have been able to identify some of the instigators behind the June first week agitation,” East Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police Davis Marak told PTI. He added that the perpetrators were identified through an investigation and statements made by people arrested for their involvement in the clashes. Over 70 stone-pelters were arrested, 20 of whom were released later on bail, Marak said.

On June 3, Sangma alleged that the protests were sponsored. “We have understood that there are people who are funding this agitation,” Sangma said. “Expensive alcohol and money is being given. We will take stern action against the plotters.” He refuted reports that a few people had been displaced and beaten up.