Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma
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Shillong: Several Ministers and MLAs have been receiving extortion messages from the banned militant outfit HNLC, Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma said during the weekly briefing.

Sangma said that following the leads received in the investigation following the IED blasts in different areas of the state, the police department has been able to make different arrests and different operation and investigation has been done.

“The steps that we have taken is to ensure that we are able to stop all of these kinds of activities that are taking place. Therefore whether it is the different arrest that has been made or different operations done or investigation taking place, all of it is based on inputs we are receiving,” informed Sangma.

According to the chief minister, not only political leaders, but businessmen, individuals, common people have been victims of extortion SMS sent by the HNLC.

All these messages which are about extortion has led the police department to a large investigation, stated Sangma.

“A large amount of evidence and documentation and proof…so the investigation is built on a lot of details- movement, individuals, different kinds of data. I would be risking the investigation by revealing all that but I can give an assurance that a large amount of work is being done and a lot of steps is taken by police to ensure this comes to a stop,” said Sangma.

The action of extortion by the banned militant outfit has not been new to the state. In February 2020, the HNLC had demanded Rs 13 crore from the owner of a coke factory in Meghalaya’s West Khasi Hills District. After the owner refused to pay the money, an IED was planted at the site leading to a blast the following day.

Dharambir Bansal from Kyllon Mathei Shallang had mentioned in his FIR that he had received a phone call on February 19 from someone claiming to be an HNLC cadre and demanded Rs 13 crore. Later, HNCL had claimed responsibility for the IED explosion at Kyllon Mathei. They had stated because all these coke factories are Benami businesses. These factories are flourishing with the help of local politicians and businessmen, they had alleged.

City calm, taking all steps necessary

Sangma also said that the city has mostly been calm and that there have been a lot of discussions with stakeholders and different individuals to ensure there is peace in Shillong City.

“We are continuing to communicate to different stakeholders to ensure that normalcy returns to Shillong city and the state as a whole,” said Sangma.

Asked if any further talks are held with stakeholders to restore normalcy, Sangma said that there is continuous communication going on and today also there was another round of meetings, with some of them.

“Apart from that, there is a continuous engagement in terms of issues which needs to be worked on so all aspects are looked into. This process requires a lot of discussion and confidence-building and a lot of talks have to be done,” stated Sangma.

The government is hopeful that normalcy will return and at the same time, police and government are ensuring that they don’t take things too lightly. Therefore the government is not taking anything lightly and ensuring that all measures are taken to ensure that citizens are safe.

Some of the organisations had asked the Government not to deploy any central forces or Meghalaya Police (MLP) in areas especially Mawlai, since the residents were angry after the killing of slain former HNLC general secretary Cherishterfield Thangkhiew on August 13 which later escalated leading to the district administration to impose curfew and suspending internet services.

Concerning this demand, the chief minister said that they decided that MLP would be present in certain locations. He added that there were individuals and certain organisations who stressed that they should not be in the presence. “As a government, we indicated that okay central forces would be deployed in other locations, but MLP will be there in areas that are sensitive and accordingly, we had deployed them,” stated Sangma.

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