SHILLONG: Nine police personnel were injured in a clash that broke out during a public hearing at Thangksai Lumshnong in East Jaintia Hills on Thursday.
The public hearing was facilitated by the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board to discuss the proposed expansion of the Meghalaya Cements Ltd plant in the village.
As soon as the public hearing started, the mob attacked and vandalised the entire pandal, Superintendent of Police (SP) Jagpal Singh Dhanao told the press.
He added that the protestors became violent and tried to torch the pandal. “Fortunately, swift police intervention managed to quell the situation,” Dhanao was quoted as saying by the press.
Further elaborating, the district police chief said that following discussions with district administrative authorities and officials from the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB), a decision was made to relocate the event to an alternate location.
“But the mob launched an attack on the second venue as well and targeted law enforcement with stone pelting,” he said. Amid escalating tensions, the protesters were eventually driven away from the premises of the cement company.
Assuring that normalcy has been restored in the area, Health Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, on Thursday evening, said, “While the hearing began with all requisite protocols in place, the intensity of the situation spiralled unexpectedly.”
She highlighted that amidst the ensuing turmoil, a chunk of the gathering resorted to violent measures. “To ensure the safety of all and reinstate order, the authorities had no choice but to resort to tear gas firing,” Lyngdoh informed.
Earlier on August 3, various pressure group in the area had strongly urged the district administration to halt the proposed public hearings on August 24 and 25.
In a communication addressed to the Deputy Commissioner of the district, they had vehemently opposed the hearing citing concerns that these cement companies have failed to meet the local populace’s needs, particularly employment of educated unemployed youth from the area. Notably, these cement companies comprise only a handful of local residents as workers.