Uneasy calm in Mukroh village after six killed in violence at Assam-Meghalaya border
Mukroh (Meghalaya): Mukroh village on Wednesday wore an eerie calm, a day after six people were killed in violence there, along the disputed Assam-Meghalaya border.
Shops remained closed and streets were largely empty as most people stayed indoors.
Security personnel, in large numbers, stood guard in the village to prevent any further untoward incident.
Two persons, who are undergoing treatment at a local hospital, having received bullet injuries in the clashes on Tuesday, said they had visited the violence-hit area after learning that some of the fellow villagers were in "danger".
Cheini Nartiang (48) was shot in his nose, and Elias Samaiang (36) in the chin.
"I saw five people falling unconscious right in front of me before getting hit myself. I don't remember anything after that," Samaiang told PTI, before the two left for North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) in Shillong.
Violence had broken out at the Assam-Meghalaya border 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 a forest guard, were gunned down amid the clashes.
Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma had complained that the Assam police and forest guards "entered the state and resorted to unprovoked firing".
Assam officials, however, asserted that the truck was intercepted in West Karbi Anglong district of the state by a forest department team and a mob from Meghalaya attacked the forest guards and policemen from the state, who, in a bid to bring the situation under control, opened fire.
Officials in Assam also said that a group of people from Meghalaya vandalised and burnt down a forest office in West Karbi Anglong district, shortly after the firing took place.
Mukroh village chief Hamboi Sumer, talking to PTI, claimed that similar incidents along the border had gone unreported in the past.
"Six villagers in Mukroh were shot by armed personnel from Assam back in 2002, but the matter was not reported. No one had the courage to talk about it.
"In neighbouring Moolber village, one person was shot dead two years ago and the victim did not get justice till date," Sumer said, adding that "locals want justice".
Mukroh village, 30 km east of West Jaintia Hills district headquarters of Jowai, is located around 10 km from the interstate border inside Meghalaya.
"We want the murderers involved in yesterday's killing to take responsibility. The Assam government should hand them over to the Meghalaya Police for a fair trial," Sumer said.
Khasi Students Union echoed Mukroh village chief's sentiments.
KSU general secretary Donald V Thabah said the "perpetrators should be named, arrested and handed over to the authorities in Meghalaya for a fair trial".
Activists of the KSU, who were camping since Tuesday at Ialong Civil Hospital at Jowai where the post-mortem of the six deceased persons was being conducted, left in the afternoon after talking to deputy commissioner, who assured them that necessary actions will be taken in the case.
Internet services have been suspended in Meghalaya following Monday's violence.
Cachar Superintendent of Police Numal Mahatta said the administration, as a precautionary measure, has asked vehicles from Assam and other states not to travel through Meghalaya till the situation normalises.
Meghalaya and Assam have a longstanding dispute in 12 areas along the 884.9-km-long interstate 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 Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi towards ending the dispute in six areas.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972 and had since then challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, which had demarcated the border between the two states.