Meghalaya extends mobile internet ban, Assam CM slammed for ‘surrender’

Decision to extend suspension of data services for another 48 hours followed cases of arson and attack on Assam-registered vehicles stranded in Meghalaya

Published - November 24, 2022 08:37 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma addresses. File.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma addresses. File. | Photo Credit: PTI

The Meghalaya government on Thursday extended the suspension of mobile internet services in seven districts by another 48 hours following stray incidents of arson and attack on Assam-registered vehicles stranded in various parts of the State.

The incidents were related to the November 22 firing on the border of Assam’s West Karbi Anglong district and Meghalaya’s West Jaintia Hill district that left six people dead. Five of them were Meghalaya villagers and one was an Assam Forest guard.

Meghalaya’s Home Secretary C. V. D. Diengdoh said in a notification that the government received reports of arson and damages to Assam-registered vehicles in State capital Shillong and other places in the Jaintia Hills districts.

He said the data services will remain suspended for 48 hours in seven districts from 10:30 a.m. on Thursday in view of the possibility of the misuse of social media, which can lead to serious breakdown of law and order. The seven districts are West Jaintia Hills, East Jaintia Hills, East Khasi Hills, Ri-Bhoi, Eastern West Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, and South West Khasi Hills.

The firing incident happened when the Meghalaya villagers confronted the Assam police and forest guards after the latter had intercepted a timber-laden truck and taken three of its occupants into custody. The trio was handed over to the Meghalaya authorities after the violence.

There has been a series of sporadic incidents after the bordering firing. An Assam-registered SUV and a forest beat office in West Karbi Anglong district were torched within 24 hours of the firing while stones were pelted at some Assam-registered vehicles in parts of Meghalaya.

Many domestic and foreign tourists, stranded in Meghalaya, have been struggling to get out. While the Assam police are not allowing vehicles from the State to move toward Shillong, some groups in Assam are not allowing Meghalaya vehicles to come.

‘Political compulsion’

Amid the uncertainty, the Opposition parties in Assam have slammed Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and the State government for “surrendering” before Meghalaya by transferring the West Karbi Anglong district police chief and suspending police and forest officers involved in the shooting.

“The Chief Minister has surrendered due to the compulsion of continuing as the convenor of NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance, a conglomerate of non-Congress political parties of the Northeast),” Assam Congress president Bhupen Kumar Borah said.

Lurinjyoti Gogoi, the president of Asom Jatiya Parishad, said the Assam government seemed too eager to take action against the officials before the outcome of a judicial probe ordered into the incident.

Rajya Sabha member Ajit Kumar Bhuyan questioned the justification of announcing ex-gratia to five people from Meghalaya when the government officially called them miscreants.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.