Curfew continues in Meghalaya

Shillong, June 22 (IANS) Curfew continued Saturday in parts of Meghalaya's West Garo Hills district where mob violence erupted after five migrant labourers attempted to molest a mentally challenged girl Friday evening.

One person was killed and a vehicle was set ablaze by a mob.

The 18-year-old girl was allegedly molested by five labourers. Three of them were caught by the mob, while two managed to flee.

Mohammad Raju Allam, Nehar Ali and Babul Sheik were beaten up by the mob before police arrived and arrested them. The three have been shifted to Gauhati Medical College.

"The situation is tense in the area and curfew is still on in the plain belt areas of West Garo Hills. Curfew has been relaxed in Tura for a peace meeting between the administration, civil society groups and religious leaders to restore normalcy," Pravin Bakshi, the district magistrate of West Garo Hills, told IANS.

Curfew was relaxed for five hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Bakshi, however, said that the district administration has decided not to lift the curfew in the plain belt areas of Garo Hills bordering Assam's Dhubri district as tension is brewing in the area.

He also said that authorities have evacuated all migrant labourers from Tura for their safety.

Meghalaya Home Minister Roshan Warjri has appealed to the people in Garo Hills to maintain calm.

"I appeal to all sections of society to maintain peace and harmony and not to believe rumour mongers," Warjri said.

The home minister said that the district administration had stepped up security and is meeting people to restore normalcy.

Warjri added that the government has rushed Parliamentary Secretary in-charge of Home Winnerson D. Sangma and Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Y.C. Modi to West Garo Hills to take stock of the situation.

Incidences of crime against women, especially rape, have been showing an upward trend in Meghalaya, which is traditionally known for its matrilineal society and respect to women.

Meghalaya government statistics reveal that in 2012, 255 crimes crimes were reported against women, of which 164 were rapes.

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