Meghalaya home minister quits as districts experience suspended internet services
Lakhmen Rymbui, the home minister of Meghalaya resigned on Sunday amid allegations of vandalism and arson over a top militant’s police encounter that happened last week. The state government has also announced a curfew in the capital city of Shillong and internet services have been suspended in at least four districts in order to control the rapidly escalating situation.
The protests across Meghalaya state were triggered following a police encounter of banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council general secretary, Cherish Starfield Thangkhiew on August 13. Home Minister Rymbui presented his resignation to chief minister Conrad Sangma. In the resignation letter, Rymbui expressed his ‘shock’ on the encounter and asked for a judicial inquiry into the matter.
“I hereby express shock at the incident where (L) Chesterfield Thangkhiew was killed following the raid of police at his residence exceeding the lawful tenets of the law. Considering the gravity of the situation, I would request you to relieve the Home (Police) Department from me with immediate effect,” he said.
Thangkhiew had allegedly attacked police with a knife while his house was being raided, said director-general of police R Chandranathan. As a response, a shot was fired that killed him. Thangkhiew had surrendered in 2018 and was a suspect in series of IED attacks.
During cremation, Thangkhiew’s supporters were seen carrying black flags protesting against his encounter. Protesters vandalized government vehicles and also set a police vehicle on fire in Shillong.
Curfew has been imposed in the Shillong Agglomeration area of Shillong from Sunday 8 pm till 5 am on August 17. Internet services too have been shut down from Sunday 6 pm for 48 hours in East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hillis, and Ri-Bhoi districts.
“No kind of gathering, public meeting, or rally may be held. Exemptions only for medical emergencies, Covid-19 and hospital duty are applicable,” deputy commissioner Kumari Isawanda Laloo said.