Indefinite curfew, Net ban in arson-hit Shillong now

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SHILLONG: An indefinite curfew was clamped in the Meghalaya capital of Shillong from 10pm on Thursday even as mobile internet and messaging were blocked for 48 hours after protesters against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill ransacked shops and set ablaze vehicles at Police Bazar, the city’s commercial district.

Around 20 to 30 youths, many of them wielding rods, went on the rampage in the heart of Police Bazar, targeting shops, cars, traders and shoppers. They set fire to several vehicles, eyewitnesses said.

As news of the arson spread, markets across the East Khasi Hills, of which Shillong is a part, quickly downed shutters. Heavy midday traffic choked the roads as people who had stepped out, including office workers, rushed home early.

“Information is received that there is a serious deterioration of law and order, with reports of arson and vandalism and destruction of property and vehicles. These activites are likely to continue, causing serious breach of peace and tranquillity, and could lead to loss of life and property,” deputy commissioner M War Nongbri said in the curfew order.

According to PTI, some cabinet ministers who were to accompany CM Conrad K Sangma to Delhi for a meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah on Thursday night couldn’t make it to Guwahati airport because of the unrest in neighbouring Assam.

Sangma, however, managed to reach the airport in time for his flight. The ministers will leave for Delhi on Friday by helicopter from Shillong, the agency quoted a source in the CM’s office as saying.

Sangma’s National People’s Party (NPP), an NDA ally, had voted in favour of the CAB in the Lok Sabha, with party MP Agatha Sangma mentioning that the 6th Schedule of the Constitution would “insulate” 97 per cent of Meghalaya from the bill. The state government aims to prevail on Shah to exempt the whole of Meghalaya from its purview.

Until Thursday afternoon, Shillong and the rest of the state had been calm even as Guwahati, less than 100km away, erupted. There were two anti-CAB processions in Shillong during the day, one by Congress activists in the afternoon and another from the Mothphran neighbourhood in the evening, Both protests were heavily policed and no untoward incident took place, officials said.

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