Meghalaya and its Capital city, Shillong are once again facing a spike in tensions after one person was killed in clashes between the Khasi Students Union (KSU) members and illegal Bangladeshi immigrants following a KSU meeting in the Ichamati area of East Khasi Hills near the Indo-Bangladesh border.
The meeting was organised in Ichamati yesterday afternoon. After the pro-ILP meeting, there were violent clashes between the Bangladeshi immigrants in the bordering area and four KSU activists were injured in the ensuing clash.
Tweeting about the incident, Meghalaya Police has stated, “Curfew has been imposed in Shillong agglomeration and adjoining areas and internet services have been suspended in the six districts of the Eastern Range as a precautionary measure.”
Curfew has been imposed in Shillong agglomeration and adjoining areas and internet services have been suspended in the six districts of the Eastern Range as a precautionary measure. pic.twitter.com/3QiphFe5Hj
— Meghalaya Police (@MeghalayaPolice) February 28, 2020
#ShillongViolence Update: Around 6-7 non-tribal people were stabbed in Bara Bazar this afternoon. One succumbed to his injuries. The rest have been moved to Civil Hospital. No arrests have been made yet. Curfew remains until further notice.
— Riccha Dwivedi (@RicchaDwivedi) February 29, 2020
Things took an ugly turn in the state after a KSU activist died in Sohra after he got critically injured during stone pelting by the Bangladeshi immigrants. The KSU members had tried to set a house on fire by burning a haystack at the edge of the market. Stone pelting had ensued from the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. A local bus carrying KSU activists was stoned apart from a car which eventually resulted in a KSU activist succumbing to injuries sustained during the clash.
Following this, tensions spiked Shillong city and after a KSU meeting today morning at the city’s Bara Bazar area, a number of stabbing attacks on at least 10 non-tribals have been reported of whom one has died. More details are awaited.
The pro-ILP agitation which has spiked tensions in Meghalaya now essentially traces its origins into the violent anti-CAA agitation in December last year. Xenophobic fears were spread in Meghalaya about the influx of Bengali Hindu population into the state even though 97 per cent of the state falls in the Schedule VI of the Constitution, thereby exempting it from the operation of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
However, the local Khasi groups found a means in the anti CAA protests to press their longstanding demand of introducing the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime in the whole of Meghalaya in the garb of anti-CAA agitation. Even at that time, the ensuing violence had left several injured and properties vandalised.
The Meghalaya Assembly had succumbed to the pressure coming from local tribal groups. It had then adopted a unanimous resolution urging the Government of India to implement the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime in Meghalaya in accordance with the provisions of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has not been very keen on implementing an ILP regime in Meghalaya. Meanwhile, the indigenous groups have accused Shah of ‘dilly-dallying’ the implementation of ILP. A week ago they had threatened to step up the anti-ILP stir. The fears of the stir turning violent have now come true.
Now, Meghalaya is on the edge with growing tensions in the state. With the law and order situation deteriorating, curfew was reimposed in the Capital city on Saturday with fears of a flare up looming large in the state. Internet too has been suspended in six districts of the state after the death of the KSU activist.
There are ominous signals coming from Shillong and other areas in Meghalaya with non-tribal population. A flare up is very much on the cards and it is the non-tribal minorities which might be on the radar of the agitating tribal groups. The clashes in Ichamati area that borders of Indo-Bangladesh border, is in substance, a completely different issue- one that essentially concerns the influx and presence of illegal immigrants coming from across the Border. But with xenophobic fears again taking grip of Meghalaya, all non tribals have much to worry about.