Shillong, Jan 5: The army was called out in Meghalaya’s violence-hit East Garo Hills district after four people were killed Wednesday in an ethnic clash between Garo and Rabha tribals.
“Three Rabha youths died and eight (Rabhas) were injured after they were attacked by Garos at Golkugre area,” Sylvester Nongtynger, police chief of Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district, told IANS.
The victims were travelling in a bus from Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills in western Meghalaya, towards Assam, police said.
In another incident, “a tribal Garo was killed in police firing at Rongjuli in Assam’s Goalpara district bordering the violence-hit area after a mob tried to attack police”, Goalpara police chief Luish Aind said.
In retaliation, the Rabhas went on a rampage torching several houses belonging to the Garo dominated areas in Torikas, Berubaris, Darakonas, Nebaris and Rongketchis.
“The army will be assisting the Meghalaya police from tomorrow (Thursday) morning in maintaining law and order in the violence-hit areas,” East Garo Hills district Deputy Commissioner Pravin Bakshi said.
He said the situation is “very tense but under control”.
Three companies of the Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force, besides two companies of the state police have already been deployed after curfew was imposed in Mendiapathar and its adjoining areas Monday night.
Curfew was imposed in Mendipathar and adjoining areas bordering Assam’s Goalpara district Monday night after clashes broke out between the Garo and Rabha tribals. The curfew was relaxed for three hours Wednesday afternoon.
Union Minister of State Agatha K. Sangma, the local MP from Tura, Meghalaya Home Minister H.D.R Lyngdoh and former Lok Sabha speaker Purno A. Sangma will be visiting affected areas Thursday to take stock of the situation.
“I am leaving for (Mendipathar) area to assess the security scenario. I appeal to the people not to pay heed to rumour mongers. People who incite trouble and disturb the peace will be booked,” Lyngdoh told IANS.
The state leader of opposition Conrad K. Sangma, meanwhile, accused the ruling Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government of “taking the ethnic clash lightly”.
“I strongly feel that there is no seriousness on the part of the (Meghalaya) government to sort out the issue in the initial stages to diffuse the simmering tension,” Conrad said.
The clash between the two warring tribes erupted on New Year celebrations when the Rabhas attacked a wedding party of the Garos and also targeted a Garo pastor.
Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has appealed to the warring tribes to maintain peace.
“I have assessed the law and order situation and instructed the district authorities to restore normalcy and maintain a strict vigil to ensure that there is no scope of escalation (of violence),” Sangma told IANS.
Over 2,000 Rabha families have been displaced after more than 200 houses were allegedly torched by Garo tribals in retaliation for recent attacks on Garos by Rabha youths, police said. –(IANS)