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Ban on protests irks NCP in Meghalaya
Published on 17 Jan. 2010 11:57 PM IST
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The Opposition NCP slammed the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance (MUA) government for imposing a blanket ban on agitations by pressure groups and political parties. Opposition leader Conrad Sangma said the government was afraid of pressure groups, political parties and the media, which raise “uncomfortable questions” on the “wrong doings” of the government. Conrad said he was not sure why the media should be restricted by the government from disseminating news about agitations and bandhs in a democratic state. “If the government does not allow agitations, which is allowed in a democratic country, then people will be forced to take unfair means to protest which may take an ugly turn given the volatile situation in Meghalaya and elsewhere in the Northeast,” he said. Following the Gauhati High Court and the Supreme Court ruling, the MUA cabinet had decided to curb any form of agitations including bandhs, road blockades and hartals by the pressure groups, political parties, individuals or groups. The MUA also brought the media under the same platform stating that it cannot publish news related to bandhs, hartals, road blockages and other forms of agitations. The government has imposed the sudden restriction on protests in view of the upcoming agitations by pressure groups against the government’s move to go ahead with uranium mining and the power deal with private companies. Criticising the decision of the government, the NCP leader said the government was going against democratic principles of the country. Moreover, restricting the media from publishing news related to bandhs and agitations went against the freedom of the press, he added. This, he said, portrayed the narrow mindset of the present government in Meghalaya. Freedom of speech and expression is part of democracy and no one can take this away, Conrad said. The government, he said, should be thankful to the pressure groups and the media for highlighting the loopholes in governance by resorting to constructive means of protest. The NCP has decided to convene a meeting of party functionaries to discuss the matter and to send a protest note to the government.

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