The situation in Shillong continues to be grim with fresh violence reported from the capital city of Meghalaya on Sunday night. For the first time, aggressive Khasi tribal men attacked (according to this news report) army jawans, along with anti-riot policemen, and injured some of them. Never before has the army been attacked in Shillong and the unprecedented attack stands proof of the growing belligerence of the Khasi youth involved in the protests against the presence of 250-odd Sikh families at Punjabi Lane, an area they have been residing in for the past 160 years.
The attack on army and police, who were protecting the besieged Sikh families, took place after curfew was reimposed in that part of the city after a seven-hour relaxation to enable people to attend church services. The trouble in Shillong started on Thursday after a minor altercation between some Khasi youth and Sikh residents of the Punjabi Lane. It soon erupted into a Khasi-Punjabi clash with not only the Sikhs of Punjabi Lane, but also Sikhs in other parts of the capital being attacked and abused. On Saturday night, a two-wheeler showroom belonging to a Sikh was attacked with petrol-bombs. Various Khasi students’ and youth bodies and Non-Government Organisations are demanding that the residents of the lane be shifted immediately to the outskirts of the city. They hold that the Sikhs are illegal squatters.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said on Sunday that the unrest was being “funded” by “certain people”. He said a magisterial probe is underway to investigate this and promised stern action against the protestors and their sponsors. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has deputed a four-member team led by his cabinet minister Sukhjinder Randhawa and comprising MPs Gurjit Aujla and Ravneet Bittu and MLA Kuldip Singh Vaid to Shillong. The team will reach Shillong on Monday evening. Meanwhile, Punjabis, especially Sikhs, in Shillong are feeling unsafe despite the state government’s assurances as they are receiving threats from some Khasis.
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