Vehicles carrying security forces in Shillong after more clashes were reported
Shillong: The Army has been called into Shillong after fresh violence broke out in the Meghalaya capital this evening. Cellphone internet and text messages have been switched off in the entire Khasi hills region. Sources said if that is not enough, the authorities will pull the plug on private broadband. The home ministry has sent in 11 companies of para-military forces to help police maintain law and order in the city, which has been witnessing violence for the last four days. The unrest, which started last week as two groups clashed, has snowballed into a full-blown conflict between tribals and residents of a migrant Punjabi settlement.
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Around 5 pm, a small, unarmed mob defied curfew and tried to break into the secretariat complex but the police have chased them back.
Fresh violence broke out in the city last night, prompting the police to use tear gas shells to control a mob.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has dubbed the clashes as "sponsored". "We have understood that there are people who are funding this agitation. Expensive alcohol and money is being given," Mr Sangma told NDTV.
The Chief Minister also denied the matter was communal, saying it is a 30-year-old issue limited to a particular locality. "The issue is of land... There are claims and counter-claims, and we are committed to amicable solution", Mr Sangma said.
Concerned about reports of security threats to Sikhs in Shillong, Punjab's Amarinder Singh government has decided to send a four-member team headed by a Cabinet Minister to the Meghalaya capital, officials have said.
The violence reignited on Sunday night, after the police allegedly forced some protesters to leave their hideouts from near the Punjabi Line area. In retaliation, the protesters overturned a police van and assaulted an on-duty officer.
The trouble began on Thursday, when a bus conductor, a tribal, was assaulted, allegedly by some residents of the Punjabi Line area. Three tribal children were also allegedly beaten.
After fake news on social media that one of the children had died, a mob tried to attack the migrant Punjabi colony.
More than 10 people, including policemen, were injured in the clash. One person was arrested and indefinite curfew was imposed in the area.
On Friday, mobs violated curfew, leading to clashes with the police. Shops and vehicles were damaged as the mob threw petrol bombs. The day after, more than 200 non-tribal families took shelter at the local army cantonment.