Meghalaya urges people to denounce coal miners bandh

The Meghalaya government today urged people of the state to denounce a 'dawn to dusk' shutdown called by coal miners tomorrow and warned the protesters that they would have to compensate for any loss or damage to property during the period.

"The State Government reiterates its firm commitment to maintain law and order at all costs and to ensure that the security of its citizens is not compromised in any way," Political department Under Secretary B Khongwir said in a statement, urging the public and the government servants not to pay heed to the bandh.

Khongwir said persons or groups calling the bandh would be held responsible for any damages/loss caused to public/private property during the period of agitation under the Meghalaya Maintenance of Public Order Act and would be liable to compensate any loss.

The state co-ordination committee of coal owners, miners and dealers forum have called a 12-hour dawn-to-dusk bandh tomorrow in protest against the State Government's failure to comply with the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) order to prepare an inventory of extracted coal in the State, resulting in continuation of ban on transportation of coal.

The NGT on August 2, 2014 upheld its April 17, 2013 interim order banning coal mining in the state after observing that the right to life was far more significant than economic interest of a state or an individual.

"Article 21 of the Constitution of India gives prominence to the right to life than any other interest including economic interest of the State or the individuals," a bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar had said.

Assuring that all government offices and establishments will function normally, the state government appealed to the people not to be intimidated by the call but to denounce such actions.

In the state capital, banks, educational institutions and other central government offices were instructed to keep their shops open.

"There is a standing instruction to all government departments, both state and central, banks and educational institutions to open on bandhs," Goyal told PTI.

Superintendent of Police in all 11 districts were instructed to keep tight vigil and ensure that there is no law and order situation arising out of the shutdown call, a senior home department official said.

Bandhs have been banned in Meghalaya in keeping with a Supreme Court Order in 1998.

A special court has also been constituted to try cases violating the SC order and several leaders of pro-ILP groups are under trial for a Rs 50 crore damage suit filed by the state government during last year's agitation.