Tension prevailed here in Meghalaya after police lobbed tear gas shells and baton charged Hynniewtrep Integrated Territorial Organisation (HITO) members who were forcing to march towards the State Secretariat on Monday.
A Deputy Superintendent of Police, Jeffry W. Sooting sustained minor injuries after he was hit by one of the stones hurled at the police at Kachari point, a police official said.
At least seven HITO members were arrested for hurling stones and bottles at the police and magistrates, who were stopping them from marching towards the Secretariat on Monday.
Several shops in Police Bazar, also known as Khyndailad, a popular commercial hub, turned down their shutters. However, a tea shop at the MUDA parking lot was damaged after one of the tear gas shells landed inside the shop. The incident took place after HITO President Donbok Dkhar appeared before the Investigating Officer at Sadar police station for wearing black uniforms which are similar to the ones donned by the Special Operation Team of the Meghalaya Police. HITO members wear black attire during any public rally, meetings or protests in the state.
Following his appearance at the Police Station, HITO members marched towards the State secretariat with the intention to throw away several of their placards with messages like, “Since when do the police claim copyright over black attire? inside the secretariat premises. “We resorted to baton charge and lobbed two gas shells at them (HITO) after they became violent and pelted stones and bottles at police personnel and magistrates, and manhandled women police,” Sylvester Nongtnger, the district police chief of East Khasi Hills, said.
He said six to seven HITO members have been arrested and the hunt is on to look for others.
Asked how the stun grenade did land inside a tea shop, Nongtnger said, “In the melee, we don’t know how it landed inside the tea shop but we will look into the matter.”
HITO President Donbok Dkhar said that he had tried to pacify his members to restrain them from being violent and not to proceed towards the secretariat after the magistrates had requested them.
“As I was trying to calm down our members, the police lobbed tear gas shells at us and the police even assaulted me,” Dkhar said, even as he termed police action as “provocative”.