Sikhs across the world were both shocked and concerned following news this weekend of a mob attacking Sikh families and attempting to set a Gurdwara alight in the city of Shillong, in the Northeastern Indian state of Meghalaya.
With lots of misinformation and a lack of insight into where the issue stemmed from, Sikh PA were able to speak with a contact from India who helpfully explained the situation and the status of Sikhs in the region, whilst also providing facts based on reports, including from humanitarian charity United Sikhs who are on the ground in Shillong.
- A mob of 200-300 gathered on the evening of 31 May which led to the trouble
- Guru Nanak Darbar Gurdwara was attacked
- Local authorities have disabled phone-lines and internet access (believed to be done to prevent rumour spreading which has led to rampaging mobs)
- A curfew was imposed by police on 1 June to prevent mobs from gathering
Indian journalist Makepeace Sitlhou shared the following with us;
There are two versions about the incident that set off the violence. Some members of the Sikh community in Punjabi Line said that after a Sikh woman was harassed by Khasi men, she and four other women living in the settlement beat them up. The Khasis say that after the argument about parking, they were assaulted by men from the Punjabi Line colony.
The Meghalaya police have arrested one man from Punjabi Line in connection with the assault.
Despite the competing claims, the feuding parties reached a formal compromise at the local Cantonment Board police station on Thursday afternoon. The agreement, written by the bus driver in Khasi, stated that he had no hard feelings towards the Sikh woman and man accused in Thursday’s altercation. “I feel no anger or bitterness,” the statement reads. “And they have given us money [Rs 4,000] for medicines for the conductor and the two passengers.”
But on Thursday night, fake news soon spread on Whatsapp that a group of Punjabi people from the colony had decapitated two Khasi boys. A mob soon gathered near the colony, intent on violence. The mob clashed with personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force and state police, resulting in injuries on both sides. Superintendent of Police (City) Stephan Rynjah was injured after he was hit by a rod. The police had to fire tear gas shells to disperse the crowd.
Curfew was imposed in several parts of Shillong early on Friday morning. In other places, restrictions on the assembly of more than four people were also put in place. Internet and text messaging services were also shut down across the city to prevent rumours from spreading. The Army was put on standby. On Friday night, the Army carried out a flag march in areas where curfew had been imposed. The Army also fed and housed more than 300 civilians from the “disturbed areas” in the cantonment, according to a release from the Press Information Bureau.
Read here full report here.
How long have the Sikhs lived in the area and what are the group’s characteristics in the state?
What is the current political situation in the North-Eastern States?