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Pol turmoil, jailbreak, UCIL row rocked M’laya
Published on 31 Dec. 2009 8:42 PM IST
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: Political turmoil, President’s rule (PR), Shillong jailbreak and the proposed uranium project dominated 2009 in Meghalaya. The first quarter of the year saw the Congress orchestrate a series of defections to overthrow the UDP-NCP-led Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) Government. The Congress, in its campaign for ouster of the government, got a significant boost in the second week of March when two independent legislators -- Limison Sangma and Ismail Marak -- pulled out of the Dr Donkupar Roy-led Government. KHNAM legislator Paul Lyngdoh followed suit plunging the MPA Government into crisis. NCP legislator Sanbor Shullai also defected to the Congress camp, but the final blow to the government came with the resignation of UDP MLAs Ampareen Lyngdoh and Nimarson Momin. The latter, however, withdrew his resignation and returned to the fold, stated a report in the Sentinel. With the Speaker using his power to suspend the defectors from the State Assembly, the State slipped into a deeper political crisis. The Centre imposed President’s rule in the State citing constitutional breakdown. Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary was at the helm of Meghalaya for two months that reportedly helped an overall improvement in the administration. The Governor sought to improve functioning of the government departments by going for surprise inspections. The Congress attempt at forming the government bore fruit when the UDP deserted its ally the NCP and joined forces with the Congress-led MUA. The HSPDP also quit the MPA and joined the MUA which led to the formation of a new government, headed by DD Lapang, on May 11. The year 2009 witnessed the sensational Shillong jailbreak on May 31, an incident that brought to the fore the alleged politician-criminal nexus in the State. Fullmoon Dhar, a hardcore criminal involved in the brutal murder of two women, mastermind the jailbreak. Fullmoon, along with five other prisoners, escaped from the jail by bribing jail staff. Though Dhar was shot dead by the police two days after his escape, a controversy raged over alleged funding of the jailbreak by coal baron and Congress MDC Thomas Nongtdu. The jailbreak and Nongtdu’s reported links to Fullmoon caused a storm of public protest which also cost Anil Pradhan the post of State DGP. The administrative inquiry into the jailbreak indicted Pradhan on the charge of ordering release of Thomas Nongtdu from police custody. Allegations about the involvement of the DGP and Thomas Nongtdu in the jailbreak and subsequent killing of Fullmoon in an encounter forced the government to order a judicial inquiry. The tricky issue of uranium mining also took centre stage after the government decided to hand over 422 acres in Nongbahjynrin Mawthabah area to the Uranium Corporation of India limited (UCIL) for implementation of the Rs-209 crore pre-uranium project development schemes. The government decision drew sharp reaction from the anti-uranium mining lobby spearheaded by the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU). Bandhs and night road blockades were called by various NGOs in protest against the UCIL projects. The government refused to give in to the demand of NGOs. The Chief Minister went on record saying the government would will not review its decision. Faced with constant opposition from by the anti-uranium mining lobby, the MUA Cabinet, however, temporarily suspended the deal with the UCIL.

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