Meghalaya to set up outposts in sensitive areas: CM

SHILLONG/DIPHU, 28 Nov: The Meghalaya government will set up border outposts in the sensitive areas along the interstate boundaries with Assam, its Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said on Monday, almost a week after the violence that claimed six lives.

Sangma announced the government decision after chairing an all-party meeting in Shillong, which was attended by local MLAs from Jaintia Hills.

The lawmakers were briefed on the steps that have been taken and the future course of action by the state government following

 the firing at Mukroh on 22 November, in which five villagers and an Assam forest guard lost their lives.

“Informed the political leaders that the cabinet will sit tomorrow to finalise the list of the various border outposts that will be set up in sensitive areas,” he said in a statement.

Sangma said, “Necessary steps will be taken to make border residents safe and secured.”

He observed a two-minute silence to mourn the dead.

Condemning the firing, the Meghalaya chief minister said, “The Mukroh firing incident is a personal loss to the state of Meghalaya. I have appealed to all political leaders to work together to ensure normalcy returns and no further violence occur in the state.”

The state police, he said, have registered a case against those involved in the assault and intimidation inside the Shillong civil hospital last week.

“Such violent acts are unacceptable. Actions will be taken as per law against individuals,” Sangma said.

Meanwhile, the state government on Monday withdrew its order suspending mobile internet services across seven districts in the Khasi Jaintia Hills region after the violence.

Heavy security, however, remains deployed at the disputed area along the Assam-Meghalaya boundary. Restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC too continued at the clash site and surrounding areas.

Violence had broken out at Mukroh village in Meghalaya near the disputed boundary between the two states along West Karbi Anglong district in the early hours of 22 November, after a truck allegedly laden with illegally felled timber was intercepted by forest guards of Assam. Six persons, including a forest gurad of Assam, were killed in the incident.

Both Meghalaya and Assam have claimed that the killings took place in their respective territories. The area falls in Makoilum village near Kheroni forest range in West Karbi Anglong district of Assam and Mukroh in West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya.

Senior government officials in Assam said the area is limping back to normal and though movement restrictions with heavy security is still in place, there is no restriction on villagers going to work or other jobs. Large gatherings are, however, strictly prohibited in the area which falls in a disputed border location between the two NE states, the Assam officials said.

“Security personnel are stationed in and around the location. Some tension is still there, but the situation is fully under control. We can say that the area is returning to normal fast,” a senior official told PTI.

Normal movement of vehicles from Assam to Meghalaya resumed from Sunday, including all petroleum products’ tankers.

“We withdrew the travel advisory on Sunday and now there is normal movement of vehicles. We have not received any reports of disturbance or attack from anywhere in Meghalaya as of now,” a senior official of the Guwahati police told PTI.

In Diphu, the Autonomous State Demand Committee, the Karbi Nimso Chingthur Asong and the Karbi Students’ Association held a joint press conference and expressed concern over the incident.

They told reporters that a delegation met union Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Lok Sabha member Horen Sing Bey and submitted a memorandum to them, demanding immediate intervention of the Centre to sort the boundary disputes, which, they said, are the root cause of the violence.

The leaders of the three influential Karbi organisations also announced that a protest demonstration will be held on Tuesday at Hamren, the district headquarters of West Karbi Anglong.

After this, a delegation will visit New Delhi to meet union Home Minister Amit Shah, they said.

Assam and Meghalaya have a longstanding dispute in 12 areas along the 884.9-km-long interstate boundary and the location where the incident took place is one of them.

The two Northeastern states had signed a memorandum of understanding in March this year in Shah’s presence in New Delhi for ending disputes in six areas.

Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972, and has since then challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, which is recognised by Assam as its boundary. (PTI)