An altercation between a Khasi boy and a Punjabi woman, fueled by rumors on social networks, sparked protests and violent clashes in Shillong on Friday, forcing the authorities to impose a curfew on 14 towns in the city. Until the late afternoon, clashes were still ongoing in an area close to the city’s shopping center. The authorities said that at least 10 people had been arrested.
Mobile Internet and SMS services were suspended in the city when authorities fought the mobs to control the situation.
Prime Minister Conrad Sangma said: “We are closely monitoring the status of law and order in Shillong, efforts are being made to bring normalcy to the affected areas, and ask citizens to keep the peace.” He said that he had held an emergency meeting with his Minister of the Interior and other Cabinet colleagues on the situation of law and order.
Stephen Rynjah, superintendent of police (city), East Khasi Hills, told The Indian Express: “At least 10 people were arrested for separate incidents of violence that began on Thursday morning, one of them accused of beating a minor child that provoked the violence, the others (arrested) are because of violence last night, the child’s condition is stable now. ”
The location of The Iww Mawlong, where the first incident took place on Thursday morning, is a Punjabi settlement. The area remained tense throughout Friday and the town saw a large deployment of security forces. The civil and vehicle movement was restricted.
According to several sources, including police officers, district officials and residents, it all started when a boy, who was on a bus administered by the government and driven by a relative, was assaulted by some residents of Them Iew Mawlong after an altercation with a woman . One account said the altercation was due to the way the bus had been parked in the town, which obstructed residents from fetching water from a public tap.
P S Dkhar, deputy commissioner of East Khasi Hills, said that the initial incident was an “insignificant” matter and that the situation was quickly controlled. Violence began in the area at night when a mob, including bus drivers, descended on the town to target its residents.
Another senior official, who did not want to be identified, said: “Stones were thrown and gasoline bombs were thrown at policemen who prevented angry youth in a community from attacking people from another community.” Several rounds of tear gas projectiles also shot up. ” The official said that social networks fed the rumors about three deaths that never happened.
Dkhar said: “We imposed the curfew on Friday morning, the rest of Shillong stayed well, but certain pockets were disturbed, we will consider the situation tomorrow morning and decide whether to lift or relax the curfew.”