Jowai, June 11, 2018:
Even before Shillong has fully recovered from the mob violence which erupted following a skirmish between two groups in Them Iew Mawlong on May 31, another similar incident has been reported in Jowai in West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya but fortunately, the issue was not blown out of proportion as was the case in Shillong.
According to the Police, the incident was reported in the heart of Jowai at Iawmusiang near Thomas Jones Synod College when a customer, who was smoking beedi, entered one electronic shop. When the staff of the shop asked him to smoke outside as the smoke can cause irritation to other customers, the former refused which led to an alteration and later ended up in a fight.
“His refusal soon led to an argument, and then pushing and subsequently a fight broke out between the staff of the shop and the customer leaving the latter injured,” West Jaintia Hills Superintendent of Police, Vivek Syiem said adding that the customer, who is a local farmer, was hit with some object on the head but denied rumours stating that the victim was hit by a hammer.
Few minutes after the incident took place, a large group of people started gathering in the area but the prompt action on the part of the police prevented the matter from getting out of hand.
“We have arrested the staff of the electronic store for inflicting injuries on the customer. And the victim, who suffered minor injuries, was administered first aid and discharged from the hospital,” said Syiem.
The suspension of internet in the entire state as a result of the Shillong turmoil has, to some extend, prevented the Jowai’s skirmish from being blown out of proportion and from repeating the Shillong episode.
With Shillong’s violence still fresh in their minds, the district administration has imposed Section 144 of CrPC prohibiting an assembly of more than four persons in an area, to prevent any untoward incident from happening as a fall-out of the fight. “The situation is under control and we are keeping a close watch in the area,” said the district police chief.
Meanwhile, when contacted, the Deputy Commissioner of the district, Ryntihlang Rapthap has informed that the decision to impose curfew in the area is yet to be taken. “We are deliberating on the issue and no such order has been issued till now, but it is likely that curfew will be promulgated if there is any reports of backlash. We are awaiting response from the police on the law and order situation in the area,” said the DC.
It may be reminded that last week, Meghalaya’s biggest and busiest market place — Iewduh came to a standstill for 5 days following a stand-off between angry protesters and the security forces. The clash erupted after three local youths were assaulted by residents of Them Iew Mawlong on May 31.
Indefinite curfew was imposed in the disturbed areas of Shillong during those days. At present, curfew in the areas falling under Lumdiengjri PS has been relaxed for 11 hours from 7 am to 6 pm while night curfew in Shillong Agglomeration still remains in force from 9 pm till 5 am.
The violent protest also prompted the government to suspend internet and SMS services in the entire state including Garo Hills.
The services were also blocked in entire Garo Hills region after NGOs — GSU, AYWO, FKJGP and ADE had surrounded the GHADC office at Tura and later met the CEM, Dipul Marak, to demand the ouster of sitting MDC, Sofiur Rehman from the post of chairperson of the Forest Advisory Committee. The nature of the protest led to the administration seeking a stop on rumour mongering. The stoppage was mainly to clamp down on social media, which has been the main culprit in gossip, which could have escalated the situation.