President arrives in Meghalaya

Shillong, Oct 21 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee Monday arrived here on a two-day visit to Meghalaya amid the 36-hour shutdown called by the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC).

Governor K.K. Paul and Chief Minister Mukul Sangma received Mukherjee at the Advanced Landing Ground in Upper Shillong. He also received a guard of honour from the Indian Air Force (IAF) warriors.

This is the first visit of Mukherjee to Meghalaya after he became president in Aug 2012. Mukherjee defeated former Lok Sabha Speaker and chief minister Purno Agitok Sangma.

Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has called for a 36-hour shutdown which began 6 a.m. Monday to protest against Mukherjee's two-day visit to Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya.

Police and para-military personnel have been posted on all major thoroughfares and patrolling has been intensified throughout the state, officials said.

Soon after his arrival, the President will address the state assembly and visit the Brookside bungalow at Rilbong where Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore had stayed during his visit in 1919. He will also visit the Don Bosco Museum, Asia's largest museum for the indigenous cultures of the north-east.

The president, who is also the Visitor of the North Eastern Hill University, will confer degrees on the students during its 21st convocation Oct 22 before returning to Delhi.

Earlier, members of the Informed Conscious and Responsible Existence, an intellectuals group, organised a public gathering Monday morning at Khyndailad in Shillong to protest against the 36-hour HNLC shutdown.

The HNLC, which runs hit-and-run operations from its hideout in Bangladesh, has been demanding a sovereign Khasi homeland in Meghalaya.

Meghalaya shares a 443 km border with Bangladesh, part of which is porous, hilly and unfenced and is prone to frequent infiltration.

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