The President of Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF), Bless Dkhar, was apprehended by the East Khasi Hills Police on Monday afternoon. Dkhar is accused of extorting money from overloaded goods carrier trucks operating between Damsite and Umiam bridge.
He allegedly demanded Rs1500 per truck crossing the bridge. The arrest was confirmed by Vivek Syiem, Superintendent of Police (City) for East Khasi Hills, who stated that Dkhar was apprehended in the Pohkseh area by personnel from the Laitumkhrah Police Station.
A Suo-Moto case was initiated by the Laitumkhrah Police Station against Dkhar following the circulation of a voice recording online which allegedly captured his involvement in the extortion scheme.
A recorded conversation reveals Dkhar, presumably an official, negotiating with a 'trader' over terms to permit the trader's truck to traverse the Damsite-Umiam Bridge. The conversation indicates that Dkhar was discussing prices per truck, whether private or belonging to the Food Corporation of India (FCI), for crossing the Umiam Bridge.
It's worth noting that in March 2022, the Meghalaya High Court issued a directive to prevent heavy vehicles weighing over 10 metric tonnes from using the Umiam bridge.
The directive was issued by a two-member bench consisting of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W Diengdoh, who, during the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), expressed concerns that the existing bridge on Umiam Dam might not withstand the current traffic load.
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