Staff quarter at Star Cement destroyed by IED blast Credit: Meghalaya Police

Shillong: Two persons were injured after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded late Saturday evening at Star Cement in East Jaintia Hills District, Meghalaya.

Speaking with EastMojo, a Meghalaya Police official said, “Two persons were injured with minor injuries. One of the injured couldn’t hear well due to the loud sound of the explosion, and medical attention was immediately provided.”

On Sunday morning, the bomb disposal along with dog squad from Shillong arrived at the site. Evidence was collected from the site. “Criminal case has been registered and we are investigating into the matter and to ascertain who is behind this,” informed the police official.

A case under Explosive Substance Act has been registered. He also added that the blast was minor since the walls were not concrete however it was totally damaged.

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Meanwhile, the Hynñiewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) claimed responsibility for the IED blast. In a notification issued by General Secretary of HNLC, Saiñkupar Nongtraw, claimed, “The HNLC takes responsibility for the IED blast in the staff quarter of Star Cement factory. The reason for the blast is because the owner of the factory refused to pay tax. Any factory or non-tribal trader will have to pay tax to HNLC. If any goes against the rule of HNLC, they will meet the same fate as met by Star Cement.”

Nongtraw further mentioned that the setting up of factories brought in by non-tribals has not brought any benefit, be it coal. He claimed that the youths are not employed at these factories and are made to work at factories outside the state.

Nongtraw in his statement further mentioned, “The incapability of the government to operate the factory at Mawmluh Cherra Cement Limited (MCCL) shows the weakness of the Government. The employees of the MCCL are now on the streets. Their demands for the release of withstanding salaries are not being fulfilled, whereas several private-owned cement factories from outside the state are functioning well. They sell their product at an exorbitant price. The organisation sympathises with those injured or if any killed, for we did not intend to hurt or kill anyone.”

Nongtraw threatened that the will carryout more blasts in the future in different places that have been identified by the HNLC.

“Going further. if there are injured or killed, the police will have to take responsibility. The functioning of HNLC is no longer like the past 10 or 15 years. It is pointless for the government to urge us to stop, even if for several years the outfit has shown restrain and patience and avoided dreadful activities for peace. Even if the Government wants peace, the HNLC would not stop its reign of terror until and unless an agreement is reached. We have not violated any agreement because there is no agreement. For 17 long years, our wait was in vain, and now we realised that if we want peace, we have to first engage in a battle,” mentioned Nongtraw in his statement.

Although the police official refused to make any comments regarding the responsibility made by HNLC.

When asked if the police are on alert following the threats, he said that the police have been on alert all this while. “We have been on alert, right now we are also carrying out random checking on vehicles. Any suspicious movement of vehicles we are looking at that. Police is yet to ascertain how these explosives were brought in and from which part,” mentioned the police official.

It is to be mentioned that on November 27 an IED blast had taken place at Soo Kilo under Sutnga Elaka in East Jaintia Hills District. The HNLC had also claimed responsibility for this blast.

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