The encounter of a leader of the banned organization Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), Chesterfield Thangkhiew, in a police raid on Friday (August 13), has created quite a stir in Meghalaya. Incidents of vandalism and arson have been reported from Shillong and various parts of the Northeastern state of India after the death of the dreaded terrorist, who was suspected to be the mastermind behind a spate of IED attacks.
Meghalaya home minister resigns
Amid these spates of violence, the Meghalaya home minister Lahkmen Rymbui resigned from his post on August 15 (Sunday).
In his letter to chief minister Conrad Sangma, Rymbui expressed shock over the ongoing protests. He proposed a judicial enquiry into the death of banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council general secretary, Cherish Starfield Thangkhiew, who was killed in a police encounter on August 13.
“I hereby express shock at the incident where (L) Chesterfield Thangkhiew was killed following the raid of police at his residence exceeding the lawful tenets of the law. Considering the gravity of the situation, I would request you to relieve the Home (Police) Department from me with immediate effect,” he said.
According to R Chandranathan, the director-general of police, he allegedly attacked officers with a knife during a raid on his residence, prompting a retaliatory action in which he was killed. The terrorist had reportedly surrendered before the police in 2018.
Supporters hit the streets, resort to vandalism and arson
However, the death of the terrorist has created quite a flutter in the state. Hundreds of people in black clothes and carrying black flags took part in Thangkhiew’s funeral procession on Sunday. Several were seen lining up the streets in Shillong with black flags, condemning the police and the state government over the death of Thangkhiew. Many were also seen standing on the terrace of their houses holding placards. Several other supporters of Thangkhiew have taken to the streets to protest his death while others have been indulging in violence and vandalism.
Curfew imposed in Meghalaya
The resignation of the Home Minister came as the state imposed a 2-day curfew and snapped internet services in at least 4 districts to contain the situation.
The curfew came in the aftermath of an attempted bomb attack on the personal residence of Meghalaya’s Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Sunday. According to reports, petrol bombs were hurled at his residence. Luckily no one was just in the attack as the house was vacant. The Chief Minister stays at his official residence.
Besides this attack, a vehicle from Assam was also attacked in Shillong, seriously injuring the driver. A police vehicle of the Mawkynroh Police Outpost was also set ablaze by unidentified men in Jaiaw locality in Shillong this afternoon. Police personnel aboard the vehicle, including the officer in charge of the outpost, escaped the spot unhurt. Moreover, several incidents of stone-pelting were also reported from various parts of the city.
The attack on the CM personal residence and other incidents of arson and vandalism compelled the state administration to impose a 2-day curfew and snap the internet services to gain control of the situation.
The curfew in the Shillong Agglomeration area of the state capital was imposed from 8 pm on Sunday till 5 am on August 17. Internet services were suspended from 6 pm on Sunday for 48 hours in the districts of East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hillis and Ri-Bhoi. “No kind of gathering, public meeting or rally may be held. Exemptions only for medical emergencies, Covid-19 and hospital duty are applicable,” deputy commissioner Kumari Isawanda Laloo said.
“Additional companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been requisitioned to ensure compliance to the ‘total curfew’ order,” a top official in the secretariat familiar with the development said.
Meanwhile, a top officer of Assam police had urged the people from the state not to travel to Shillong till curfew continues. “Curfew has been imposed in Shillong due to Law & Order issues. People from Assam are advised not to travel to Shillong till curfew continues,” said GP Singh, special DGP, Assam Police, in a tweet.
Terming the killing of former Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) leader Cherishterfield Thangkhiew in an encounter at his house as “unfortunate”, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma Saturday said that the raiding police party had no intention to kill the former leader of the militant organisation, but only to arrest him. Sangma said the police had credible information of another blast being planned at a certain location in Shillong, In order to stop it, he said the police had to act swiftly.
Terrorist outfit in Meghalaya vows vengeancece
Meanwhile, the terror outfit has vowed to avenge the killing of their former leader. Thangkhiew’s brother Granary Starfield Thangkhiew said it all happened all of a sudden. “It is amply clear that they (police) came with the intention to kill and nothing else. Found a gun, no way, no way. It is clear by this action they came with one and only one mission, to kill my dear brother.”
“They could have come in the daytime like any other normal person or even summoned him to the police station; why early at 3 am when the whole world is fast asleep? They (police) just wanted to show strength like cowards, shame on them,” he continued.
HNLC general secretary cum spokesperson, Saińkupar Nongtraw alleged that the entire operation against Thangkhiew couldn’t have been carried out without approval from a senior minister in the Meghalaya government. “Without his permission, this wouldn’t have happened to a person. We will see how long he remains in that chair,” the rebel leader threatened.