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Assam-Meghalaya border violence: Vehicle movement restricted after tension escalates | What happened

Assam-Meghalaya border violence: Vehicle movement restricted after tension escalates | What happened

Assam-Meghalaya border violence: Vehicle movement restricted after tension escalates | What happened
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By CNBCTV18.com Nov 23, 2022 4:41:34 PM IST (Published)

Assam-Meghalaya border violence: Police personnel have put up barricades at various points to enter Meghalaya from Assam.

Tension escalated in Meghalaya as an SUV car with an Assam plate was reportedly set on fire in Shillong after miscreants asked the passengers to leave the vehicle late Tuesday. Later, a forest office in Assam’s West Karbi Anglong district was allegedly vandalised and burnt down, reports said. This came soon after six people were killed following a clash between police and villagers in a disputed area along the border between the two states.

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According to news agency PTI, armed with machetes, rods and sticks, residents of Mukroh village in Meghalaya’s West Jaintia Hills district gathered in front of a beat office under the Kheroni Forest Range in Assam along the inter-state border on Tuesday night and set the structure on fire.
"The mob vandalised the forest office and torched properties such as furniture, documents and motorcycles parked in the complex," the officials said. However, no one was injured in the incident. The official said villagers had left the area before a team of policemen and other security personnel reached the spot, he said.
Some taxi drivers who returned to Guwahati on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning said that the Meghalaya Police escorted them to the Assam border. However, they added that onlookers pelted stones on their vehicles while on the move.
Police issues advisory
Following reports of attacks, the Assam Police continued to advise car owners to avoid entering the neighbouring state for safety. The police personnel put up barricades at various points to enter Meghalaya from Assam, including at Guwahati and Cachar districts. They also asked people not to travel to the hill state in a vehicle bearing a number plate from Assam.
"Since yesterday, we have been advising people not to go to Meghalaya till the situation completely normalises. We are only requesting the private and small car owners not to travel as miscreants are targeting such vehicles there," Deputy Commissioner (East) of Guwahati Police Sudhakar Singh told PTI.
He, however, said the commercial vehicles had not been stopped.
What happened on Tuesday
Six people, including a forest guard, were killed in violence at a disputed area on the Assam-Meghalaya border early on Tuesday. Five of the six killed at Mukroh village in West Jaintia Hills district were Meghalaya residents, and one is an Assam Forest guard, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said.
The incident occurred after a truck, allegedly laden with illegally felled timber, was intercepted by forest guards from Assam. However, Assam Police officials asserted that the truck was intercepted in the West Karbi Anglong district of the state by a forest department team, and a mob from Meghalaya had later attacked the forest guards and policemen from the state, which led to firing by the Assam side to bring the situation under control.
The Meghalaya government suspended mobile internet services in seven districts. Meanwhile, the Assam Police sounded alert in the border districts and ordered an inquiry by a retired high court judge into the matter.
In a tweet tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Sarma, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, whose party is an ally of the BJP, complained that the Assam police and forest guards "entered Meghalaya and resorted to unprovoked firing".
The Meghalaya CM also announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for the next of kin of the deceased from his state. The Assam government also said it would provide Rs 5 lakh to the families of each deceased as compensation.
A team of Meghalaya ministers will meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah on November 24 to seek a central agency probe into the matter. However, the Assam government said it would hand over the probe to a central or neutral agency.
The Himanta Biswa Sarma government also said it has transferred the district SP and suspended the Officer-in-Charge of Jirikinding Police Station and the Forest Protection Officer of Kheroni Forest Range.
The Assam-Meghalaya dispute
The two states have a longstanding dispute in 12 areas along the 884.9-km-long inter-state border, and the location where the violence took place is one of them.
The two northeastern states had signed a memorandum of understanding in March this year in the presence of Shah in New Delhi towards ending the dispute in six of them.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972 and had since challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act of 1971, which had demarcated the border between the two states.
(Inputs from PTI)
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