Shillong, August 15: The city will be reliving the horror of communication shutdown and curfew after 2018 when violence erupted following an incident in Punjabi Lane.
The state government on Sunday ordered total curfew from 8 pm on August 15 to 5 am of August 17 in the wake of protests against the killing of former HNLC leader Cherishstarfield Thangkhiew and sporadic incidents of violence.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the deputy commissioner said both the municipal and cantonment areas, all localities of Mawlai and Mawpat, the area between Umshyrpi bridge to 7th Mile, Madanrting, Mawblei, Laitkor, Nongkseh, Umlyngka, Lawsohtun, Mawdiangdiang, Diengiong and Siejiong will be under curfew.
The government also shut down mobile data services in four districts — East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills and Ri Bhoi — anticipating a flare-up in the city after hundreds of sympathisers of Thangkhiew came out with black flags.
“Messaging system like SMS and WhatsApp and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are likely to be used for transmission of information through pictures, videos and text and have the potential to cause serious breakdown of law and order,” an official order from the Department of Home Affairs said.
Thangkhiew, the former HNLC leader who surrendered in 2018, was killed last Friday in police gunshot.
The city saw sporadic violent incidents in different localities. Around 10.30 am, there was stone pelting at Sunny Hill Lymdiengjri. Then near FCI, protesters pelted stone at police after the latter prevented the youths from putting up banners. In the third incident, a police vehicle was torched in Jaiaw.
The Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) has condemned the decision of the MDA government to suspend mobile internet/data services for 48 hours in four districts and to declare total curfew in the Shillong agglomeration.
“This decision reeks of desperation from the part of the government who have shown a lack of ability in tackling law and order in the state ever since it came to power in 2018,” TUR said in a statement on Sunday.
“Suspension of mobile internet/data services seems to be the only tactic the MDA government resorts to to cover up its incompetency in handling law and order… Also, suspension of mobile internet services sets a bad precedence in terms of censorship and the continued use of such a tactic will only lead to gradual lessening of the Freedom of Expression of the citizens of the state,” it added.
TUR was shocked at the implementation of a “draconian measure like total curfew” during the pandemic.