Clash on Assam-Meghalaya border leaves six dead, mobile and internet services suspended
The trouble broke out when the forest guards from Assam intercepted a truck, allegedly smuggling timber, on the border of West Karbi Anglong in Assam and West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya.
GUWAHATI: Five civilians and a forest guard were killed and several others injured in an incident of firing on the Assam-Meghalaya border in the early morning of Tuesday.
The Assam government ordered a probe into the incident by a retired judge of the Gauhati High Court. The inquiry commission will submit its report within three months.
In a statement, the Assam government said the firing took place between "Assam forest officials and unknown miscreants" at Mukhrow under Jirikinding police station in the state’s West Karbi Anglong district.
"The incident reportedly took place when the Forest party attempted to stop a truck smuggling out illegal timber. When the truck was stopped by the forest party personnel, they were gheraoed by unknown miscreants who resorted to violence. In order to save their lives, the forest party resorted to firing. In the incident, three civilians and one forest guard died," the statement said.
However, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said six people had lost their lives. He also said that the incident occurred at Mukroh village in West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya.
"In an unfortunate incident that occurred at Mukroh village in West Jaintia Hills district, six persons died due to firing by Assam Police and Assam Forest Guards. Out of the six, five were Meghalaya residents & 1 is from the Assam Forest Guard," Sangma tweeted.
He assured that his government would take necessary steps to ensure that justice is done and action is taken against all those responsible for the "inhuman act".
The state government cancelled all upcoming official festivals as a mark of respect and mourning for the deceased. It also decided to provide ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the five families of the deceased. Sangma appealed to the people in the state to maintain peace and harmony.
The incident prompted the Meghalaya government to suspend mobile internet/data services for 48 hours in seven districts from 10:30 am of Tuesday.
Meghalaya home secretary CVD Diengdoh said it was done as the government apprehended that the social media was likely to be used for transmission of information having the potential to cause serious breakdown of law and order.
Fearing a backlash, the Assam Police restricted the movement of vehicles travelling to Meghalaya capital Shillong.
The incident of Tuesday comes at a time when both states have begun a process to resolve their boundary disputes in the remaining six of the 12 friction points. The problem in the first six areas was resolved with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by Sangma and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on March 29 this year.