Amid the controversy over the Cherry Blossom Festival, the protest gathering which was scheduled at Bhoirymbong today was stopped by the Ri-Bhoi district administration due to objections raised by the Dorbar Shnong Lumdaitkhla-Bhoirymbong.
The gathering was called by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising of Ri-Bhoi Youth Organisation (RBYO), Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC), Meghalaya People Social Organisation (MPSO) and Saindur Tipkur Tipkha Eh-Rngiew Hynniewtrep (STIEH) to protest the decision to conclude the upcoming Cherry Blossom Festival on a Sunday.
Early in the morning, the district administration deployed police personnel to the venue of the proposed gathering to prevent the organisers from going ahead with the protest.
Similarly, the Dorbar Shnong Lumdaitkhla-Bhoirymbong said that the organisers did not seek prior permission to hold the gathering.
Speaking to media persons, leaders of the JAC condemned the State government for disallowing the gathering. They also said that the letter seeking permission for the gathering had been sent to the headman of Lumdaitkhla one week back.
Terming the stand of the authorities as “undemocratic”, the JAC leaders said that they will meet soon to chalk out their next course of action.
Hours before the proposed gathering, JAC chairman Baiateilang Lapang was arrested by police from Diengpasoh yesterday night while he was returning home from Khliehriat.
He was immediately shifted to Byrnihat police station where he was detained.
Police alleged that Lapang was arrested and interrogated following a complaint that he demanded money and free petrol from a fuel station at Byrnihat.
Later, he was handed over to the East Khasi Hills district police for interrogation on certain extortion charges against him.
However, the arrest of the JAC chairman just hours before the proposed protest meeting at Bhoirymbong has raised eyebrows.
It may be noted that the Cherry Blossom Festival will be held from November 17 to 19 at Madan Kurkalang, Bhoirymbong. Incidentally, November 19 is a Sunday.
Recently, the Ri-Bhoi Mihngi Presbytery which is a part of the Ri-Bhoi Presbyterian Church Synod has expressed its opposition to the decision to conclude the upcoming Cherry Blossom Festival on a Sunday.
Earlier, the Meghalaya United Christian Forum (MUCF) and Khasi Jaintia Christian Leaders’ Forum (KJCLF) have expressed concern over the festival concluding on a worship day for Christians.
However, Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh said that “every day is a holy day and not just Sunday”. He also said that those who oppose concluding of the festival on a Sunday did so with political motives.