SHILLONG, June 26 � Encouraged by Gauhati High Court�s order, Meghalaya Government has decided to hold the first Municipal polls in Garo Hills.
A single bench judge, BK Sharma on May 31 directed the State Government to conduct the polls by September 30, instead of nominating ward commissioners. The judge passed the order after the All Garo Hills Civic Poll Candidates� Forum went to court.
The government was compelled to nominate ward commissioners after there was violent protests against holding of the elections in Garo Hills last year.
NGOs backed by traditional heads are opposing the polls, stating it would dilute the powers and functions of the traditional institutions as enshrined under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. The government has failed to convince the agitating groups that it would not be the case.
The State Government also constituted a committee headed by the Chief Electoral Officer, Prashant Naik to hold talks with NGOs opposing the polls under the banner of Joint Action Committee (JAC). However, the talks haven�t yielded any concrete result.
�The Government will ensure that free and fair polls are conducted in a peaceful atmosphere,� Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said after a Cabinet meeting last evening.
During last year�s protest arsonists suspected to be JAC members set ablaze bridges, vehicles and government offices in the three districts of Garo Hills.
The Congress party office in Williamnagar was also set ablaze. Government officials were manhandled in some instances.
Minister in-charge Urban Affairs, Ampareen Lyngdoh said the polls would be held in a phased manner to ensure a peaceful election and the draft rolls for Baghmara elections would be published on June 27.
Apart from Baghmara (South Garo Hills), elections would also be held for Tura (West Garo Hills), Williamnagar and Resubelpara (East Garo Hills) municipal boards.