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Shutdown against civic polls turn violent in Meghalaya
Correspondent Shillong, Oct 27:
Published on 27 Oct. 2010 11:38 PM IST
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A three-day shutdown called by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) in protest against the first-ever municipal elections in the three districts of Garo Hills in western part of Meghalaya turned violent with three trucks and a wooden road bridge set on fire Wednesday.
The bridge was burnt at Rangmal Badeng, the entry point to Williamnagar, the district headquarter of East Garo Hills district, while the three trucks were set on fire at Bajendoba, Pravin Bakshi, the district deputy commissioner said. Though, no one has been arrested in this connection, but police have registered two cases against the JAC for the incident, Bakshi said.
In Tura, the district headquater of West Garo Hills, there are reports of stone pelting by supporters of the JAC on moving vehicles. however, no one has reported of any injury, Dalton P Marak, the district police chief said. In Baghmara, which is the district headquater of South Garo Hills, there has been no reports of any untoward incident and most of the government offices remained closed. The muncipal elections to the Tura, Williamnagar, Baghmara and Resubelpara muncipal boards will be held on Oct 29.
In Aug 27, 2004, the government conducted civic polls to the Resubelpara municipal board elections however it was declared ‘null and void’ as it was not in conformity with the provisions of section 15 A of the Meghalaya Municipal Act (Assam Municipal Act, 1957 as adapted and amended by Meghalaya) The JAC is against holding the civic polls to the Tura, Williamnagar, Baghmara and Resubelpara muncipal board fearing that the elections would dilute the power and functions of the Nokma (clan head of the village)
“The elections to the four municipal boards are illegal and it tantamounts to violation of the sixth schedule of the constitution as it will erode function and power of the Nokmas,” Tengsak G Momin, JAC spokesman said. Momin, who is also the chief of the powerful Garo Students’ Union said, a writ petition against the municipal elections has been filed in the Gauhati High Court and its verdict is awaited.
Charles G Momin, theSecretary of the Nokma Council said that the Council will not co-operate with the government in this election until and unless their demands are met.
Amongst, Momin said their demands includes that all Nokmas under the municipal area should be made the ward committee members and some of them as ward commissioners and all members and commissioners ought to be from the Garo community alone.
However, Urban Affairs Minister, Prestone Tynsong said the primary objective in holding the civic polls was aimed at to provide people with an elected body in the four municipal boards of the Garo Hills. “The elections will be held as scheduled. We are not going to turn back on it,” Tynsong said.

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