Half of Meghalaya on Tuesday observed a shutdown following a non-cooperation call by a group of organisations protesting the proposed first ever municipal elections, even as 205 candidates filed nominations in the four municipal boards where elections are slated for September 29.
Educational institutions, business establishments as well as government offices were closed and vehicular movement was thin in all the three districts of Garo Hills, official sources said adding that adequate security personnel were deployed at sensitive places to prevent any untoward incident.
While no picketing activities were observed, West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Sanjay Goyal said the administration has decided salary cut for those government officials who did not report for duty.
The Joint Action Committee, a conglomerate of several organisations, has announced a two-day non-cooperation movement in the three districts from Tuesday against holding of the elections in the four municipalities of Garo Hills.
The JAC is demanding demarcation of the municipal areas before conducting elections. Altogether 96 candidates, including 27 women, have filed nominations in the 13 wards of Tura municipality in West Garo Hills district.
For the Resubelpara and Williamnagar municipalities, 55 candidates have filed nominations, while in Baghmara, 54 candidates have filed their nominations, official sources said.
The last date for filing nominations ended yesterday. Urban Affairs Principal Secretary Prashant Naik ruled out postponing the municipal elections. "We don't understand why they are opposing the elections.
"They should wait for the court verdict instead of announcing any agitation," he said. The proscribed Khasi militant outfit Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council had warned people of dire consequences if they participated in the proposed municipal elections.
Earlier, the Gauhati high court had issued a notice to the government on a petition by the Garo Students Union which challenged the municipal polls.
Since the Supreme Court notification in 2000, there have been at least two attempts to hold the civic body election in the state but both the times the government could not go ahead due to opposition from certain quarters on the ground that such an attempt will dilute the credibility of traditional institutions in the state.
There has been no municipality election in the state since it attained statehood as nominated administrator of the state government governs the municipality boards.