Home minister quits amid stir in Meghalaya
Meghalaya home minister Lahkmen Rymbui on Sunday resigned from his post amid vandalism and arson over the police encounter of a top militant last week, even as the state government announced a curfew in Shillong and suspended internet services in at least four districts to contain the situation.
In his letter to chief minister Conrad Sangma, Rymbui expressed shock over the protests and proposed a judicial enquiry into the death of banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council general secretary, Cherish Starfield Thangkhiew, who was killed in a police encounter on August 13.
“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, who surrendered in 2018, was suspected to be the mastermind behind a spate of IED attacks, police said.
According to the director-general of police R Chandranathan, he allegedly attacked police with a knife when his home was being raided, provoking a retaliatory shot in which he was killed.
Earlier in the day, hundreds of Thangkhiew’s supporters carried black flags as the militant’s body was being taken to the cemetery. Police said the protesters vandalised government vehicles and set a police vehicle afire in Shillong’s Jaiaw area.
A curfew in the Shillong Agglomeration area of the state capital was imposed from 8 pm on Sunday till 5 am on August 17. Internet services were suspended from 6 pm on Sunday for 48 hours in the districts of East Khasi Hills, West Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hillis and Ri-Bhoi. “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.
“Additional companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been requisitioned to ensure compliance to the ‘total curfew’ order,” a top official in the secretariat familiar with the development said. On Saturday, Sangma said there was ample evidence against Thangkhiew for his role in recent blast incidents.