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KSU pleads for unconditional release of members ahead of talks
Correspondent Shillong, Oct 28:
Published on 28 Oct. 2009 10:30 PM IST
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At least seven Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) activists were arrested today on charges on arsons and stone pelting during the recent agitation of the students’ body in Meghalaya. The arrest assumed significance in the wake after Chief Minister DD Lapang invited KSU leaders for dialogue on their demand to scrap government’s decision to lease 422 square hectares of land in uranium-areas of West Khasi Hills district to Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL). “The students’ activists were arrested for their recent involvement in torching of government vehicles in certain areas of the city,” a police official said. Meanwhile, the KSU which has temporarily suspended its anti-uranium mining agitation to facilitate talks with Chief Minister DD Lapang demanded immediate release of its members. “We have reciprocated to the government’s offer for talks by suspending our agitational programme. Therefore, the government should immediately release our arrested members unconditionally,” KSU General Secretary Hamletson Dohling said. The government has proposed to hold a dialogue on November 3 after Mr Lapang returns to the state from Mumbai. The Chief Minister is also expected to hold separate meetings with pro-uranium mining groups who had for long demanded to operationalise the Kylleng-Pyndengsohiong-Mawthabah uranium project in the state. Meanwhile, the Coordination Committee of Social Organisation (CCSO), a conglomeration of five pressure groups has welcomed the government extending its olive branch. CCSO Chairman Wellbirth Rani said that the organisation will meet tomorrow to officially on the withdrawal of October 30 hunger strike in the city. The KSU and CCSO has been agitating against the government’s decision to lease 422 square hectares of land in uranium-rich areas of West Khasi Hills district to the UCIL for 30 years. The UCIL will undertake ‘’pre-mining developmental projects’’ in proposed open-cast uranium areas. The UCIL would invest Rs 1,000 crore to undertake pre-developmental project activities to build schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure. Initially, the government-owned mining company would invest Rs 209 crore for these projects. The proposed Kylleng-Pyndengsohiong-Mawthabah Uranium Project in the state has been hanging fire for three decades due to opposition from tribesmen of the state. Various groups, including political parties, were opposing to mining of uranium apprehending health and environmental hazards following the uranium projects.

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