Shutdown against civic polls turns violent in Meghalaya

October 27th, 2010 - 7:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, Oct 27 (IANS) A three-day shutdown called by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) protesting the first-ever municipal elections in three districts of Meghalaya’s Garo Hills turned violent with trucks and a bridge being set on fire.

The bridge was burnt at Rangmal Badeng, the entry point to Williamnagar, the district headquarters of the East Garo Hills district, while three trucks were set on fire at Bajendoba.

“No one has been arrested but police have registered two cases against the JAC for the incidents,” Pravin Bakshi, district deputy commissioner, told IANS.

In Tura, the district headquarters of the West Garo Hills, there were reports of stone pelting by JAC supporters at moving vehicles.

However, there were no reports of any untoward incident from Baghmara, the district headquarters of the South Garo Hills. Most of the government offices remained closed there.

The muncipal elections to the Tura, Williamnagar, Baghmara and Resubelpara muncipal boards will be held Oct 29.

In Aug 27, 2004, the government conducted civic polls to the Resubelpara Municipal Board. However, courts declared the polls null and void as these were not held in conformity with the provisions of section 15A of the Meghalaya Municipal Act.

The JAC is opposed to holding the civic polls to the Tura, Williamnagar, Baghmara and Resubelpara municipal board, fearing the elections would dilute the power and functions of the Nokma — clan head of the village.

“The elections to the four municipal boards are illegal and it tantamounts to violation of the Sixth Schedule of the constitution as it will erode the function and powers of the Nokmas,” said JAC spokesman Tengsak G. Momin.

Charles G. Momin, secretary of the Nokma Council, said the council will not co-operate with the government in elections until and unless their demands are met.

Some of their demands are that all Nokmas under the municipal area should be made the ward committee members and some of them as ward commissioners, and all members and commissioners ought to be only from the Garo community.

However, Urban Affairs Minister Prestone Tynsong said the primary objective in holding the civic polls is to provide people with an elected body in the four municipal boards of the Garo Hills.

“The elections will be held as scheduled. We are not going to turn back on it,” Tynsong told IANS by telephone from New Delhi.

Chief Electoral Officer Prashant Naik said 241 candidates filed their nominations for the municipal boards elections.

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