Border violence: Low attendance in Meghalaya offices; Assam police issues travel advisory

NewsDrum Desk
25 Nov 2022

Guwahati/Shillong, Nov 25 (PTI) Attendance in government offices in Meghalaya was ‘thin’ on Friday in response to a call by various organisations for a non-cooperation movement in protesting against the November 22 violence along the border with Assam, which left six people dead, officials said.

Assam police officials on Friday issued a fresh advisory asking its citizens not to travel to Meghalaya as the situation is still “not very good" in the neighbouring state where police vehicles were torched and several people were injured during protests on the previous night.

In a relief to the people of Meghalaya, the Assam Petroleum Mazdoor Union (APMU) decided to resume transportation of fuel to that state, which it has suspended on Thursday, following assurance of security of tankers and crew from the neighbouring state.

Violence had broken out at Mukroh village near the disputed border between the two states in the early hours of Tuesday after a truck allegedly laden with illegally felled timber was intercepted by forest guards from Assam. Six people, including five tribal villagers from Meghalaya a forest guard from Assam, were killed.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma called on Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Thursday. Shah assured him that a CBI probe will be initiated into the border violence.

Several social organisations and student associations of Meghalaya, including the influential Khasi Students Union (KSU) and the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People, declared a “non-cooperation movement” following the incident.

“We urged our brothers and sisters working in both central and state governments to support us by not attending offices on Friday as a mark of respect to the victims of extra-judicial firing at Mukroh by Assam Police,” KSU general secretary Donald V Thabah said.

In the Meghalaya capital Shillong, attendance was thin in both central and state government offices, officials said.

The situation is the same in the seven districts of Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills region, senior officials of the districts told PTI.

"Yesterday in Shillong, public burnt police vehicles. The situation is not very good. That’s why we are advising people not to travel (to Meghalaya)," Deputy Commissioner (East) of Guwahati Police Sudhakar Singh told PTI.

Cachar Superintendent of Police Nomal Mahatta also said a similar restriction on people and vehicles from Assam entering Meghalaya through his district also is in force.

Violence erupted in a portion of the Meghalaya capital shortly after a demonstration and a candlelight vigil concluded on Thursday night.

Police had to use tear gas shells to bring the situation under control as unidentified miscreants lobbed petrol bombs at a police bus and a jeep besides pelting the police personnel with stones injuring four of them. Three civilians were also assaulted nearby.

Shops and business establishments run by non-tribals in Khyndailad, Lewduh and certain other areas in Shillong remained shut since Thursday, apprehending violence.

Security in areas, identified as vulnerable, in the city was tightened, a senior district official told PTI.

The violence had led to the suspension of fuel supply from Assam to Meghalaya.

The Assam Petroleum Mazdoor Union had sent letters to IOC, HPCL and BPCL, informing them of its decision to not load fuel in tankers meant for Meghalaya following attacks on trucks supplying non-petroleum products in the last two days. However, the decision was changed on Friday.

"We have received assurance from the Meghalaya authorities that safety and security of the tankers, our drivers and other staff will be ensured. But we have also told them that if any untoward situation happens, we will immediately stop the vehicles once again," APMU general secretary Ramen Das told PTI.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Friday said there is no shortage of petrol and diesel in the state and requested all citizens not to resort to panic buying of any essential commodities.

Food and Civil Supplies director Pravin Bakshi directed the deputy commissioner of seven districts bordering Assam to arrange for police escorts to vehicles coming from Assam after APMU announced that it has stopped transporting fuel to Meghalaya fearing violence.

The authorities have decided to extend the ban on mobile internet service in seven Meghalaya districts till Saturday morning. The suspension was imposed following Tuesday’s violence.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Thursday said Union Home Minister Amit Shah has given firm assurances at a meeting held in Delhi of acting on his request for a CBI probe into the "firing by Assam Police" along the states' border.

Assam and Meghalaya have a long-standing dispute in 12 areas along the 884.9-km-long inter-state border, and the location where the violence took place is one of those.

The two states had signed a memorandum of understanding in March this year towards ending the dispute in six of the areas.

Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972 and had since then challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, which demarcated the border between the two states. PTI JOP SSG TR RG NN NN

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