SHILLONG: Authorities here on Tuesday decided to briefly relax the curfew in the state capital on Wednesday while internet on mobile telephones remained restricted even as the situation was showing steady improvement.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress demanded setting up of a judicial inquiry into the issue of shifting the Sikh inhabitants from Sweepers Lane, a day after the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government decided to constitute a high level committee to find out a permanent solution to the long-pending issue.
A delegation of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee from Amritsar also opposed the move of the Meghalaya government to re-locate the Sikhs to other parts of the city.
"We have decided not to relax the curfew on Tuesday though the situation in the area is slowly limping back to normalcy. We are keeping a close watch on the situation," Deputy Commissioner of East Khasi Hills district P.S. Dkhar told IANS.
However, some relaxation will be made on Wednesday, he added.
Curfew will be relaxed in 13 tension-hit areas under Lumdiengjri Police Station and Cantonment Beat House located near Iewduh, one of the busiest markets in the northeastern region, from 7 a.m. to 12 noon, and then be reimposed, said Dkhar.
Night curfew in the Shillong Agglomeration will be relaxed from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m. with effect from Wednesday.
Two Army columns carried out a third flag march here on Tuesday to help the district administration to bring the situation under control.
Curfew was imposed in some areas on June 1 following violence involving members of the Punjabi and indigenous Khasi communities.
Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma said the government has "failed" to sustain peace in the state and demanded setting up of a judicial inquiry into the issue of shifting the Sikh inhabitants from Sweepers Lane, known to the local people as Them Metor and located in the commercial area of Shillong near Iewduh, one of the busiest markets in the northeastern states.
For more than two decades, several indigenous Khasi civil society groups have demanded from the Meghalaya to re-locate Sikh residents, living there since British times, from Sweepers Lane as most of them are "illegal settlers".
"It is a sad thing that not even completing three months, they (MDA) have messed up everything. Today the name and fame of the state that we have built over the years and put the state among the top tourist destinations, has been adversely affected and this has derail the whole momentum of growth," said the former Chief Minister.
Meanwhile, the SGPC delegation, led by Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, met Home Minister James Sangma and opposed the move of the Meghalaya government to re-locate the Sikhs residing in Sweepers Lane.
"They (Sikh) have been staying there (Sweepers Lane) for 180 years. Therefore, the question of re-locating them from the existing location is not acceptable to us. We would like the government to propose an alternative solution to it.
"There are no illegal settlers in the area. They have been settling for centuries.. Sikhs are everywhere in the world, they have never been relocated whether in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran or Iraq. In fact, the Sikh community are scattered all over the world," he said.
Singh said that the Sikh community living all over the world are ready to fund for construction of multi-storied buildings in the existing location if the Government gives them permission.
"We had in fact requested the Home Minister to allow them to construct beautiful apartments for the Sikhs here. So the question of the Sweeper's Colony of being unhygienic will not remain," he said.
On Monday, the Meghalaya government constituted a high level committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong to examine all relevant records and documents relating to the relocation of the Sweeper Colony, Sweeper Lane, Mawlong Haat and to recommend feasible solutions.