Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is in the grip of tensions after tribals attacked a colony populated by mostly dalit Punjabis Friday (1 June) evening. Tension has been brewing since Thursday afternoon after a few public bus drivers, all of them belonging to the Khasi tribal community, reportedly passed lewd comments on some women residents of the locality, known as 'Sweepers Colony', in the Motphran area of the capital.
According to reports, some menfolk objected to the eve-teasing and a minor scuffle broke out between the bus drivers and residents of the colony. But police intervened and separated the groups. However, later in the evening, more bus drivers and tribal youth congregated at Motphran and tried to attack the colony. The police and CRPF could barricade them and prevent them from carrying out any attacks on the minority non-tribals. The administration also clamped curfew in the area, but aided by wild and false rumours of some tribal children being killed by the non-tribals, a few hundred tribala congregated at Motphran, which is also the oldest commercial Center of the city. The tense standoff between police ans the belligerent tribal youth continued throughout the night and Friday.
Police burst many rounds of tear gas shells to prevent more tribals from congregating at Motphran and played a cat and mouse game with them through the alleys and roads of the area. However, around 7 pm, the crowds swelled to unmanageable proportions and completely outnumbered the police, who had to beat a retreat. The mobs then went on a rampage in the dalit Punjabi locality, looting houses, assaulting men and women and torching the dwellings of the dalits. The rampage was continuing till reports last came in. The riotous tribal mob were preventing fire tenders from dousing the flames.
Shillong has a history of tribal-non tribal clashes. As a result, the city which once hosted thousands of non-tribal families, has witnessed a sharp fall in the non-tribal population.
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