GOALPARA, Jan 7 – Softening their stand, the All Rabha Students’ Union (ARSU) today suspended their 500-hour economic blockade to facilitate movement of essential commodities to the Garo Hills, thus bringing relief to the people across the border.Meanwhile, nine more bodies were recovered today at Kukurkata area under the Bajendhoba Police Station of Meghalaya. Six of them were later identified.
According to another report, five thatched houses in the fringe of Garobasti, Kuchpara under Agia police station were set ablaze by some arsonists. Although there was no loss of life, the villagers had fled to relief camps set up at Budhipara ME School, under Balijana block.
A feeling of fear and distrust prevails over the peace committee meetings held between the two warring communities under the initiatives of the peoples (Garos and Rabhas) as well as the district administration at various places in the district. Peoples from both the communities, who attended the meetings, pledged to restore normalcy in their respective areas.
In an encouraging sign on the law and order front, Deputy Commissioner Prafulla K Goswami told this Correspondent over phone that curfew has been relaxed on National Highways and that day curfew in the affected areas was relaxed from 9 am to 12 pm.
The DC added that over 30,000 displaced people are lodged in the 26 relief and rehabilitation camps set up by the district administration and that assistance – including medical, basic amenities like pit latrines, safe drinking water, bleaching powder and electricity to 10 of these camps – were provided there. Adequate care has also been taken so that relief materials – rice, dal, mustard oil, salt, etc., – reach the victims. Moreover, he added that 8,000 blankets will arrive from Guwahati tomorrow.
Meanwhile, a team led by Sarat Rabha, ex-Chief Executive Member of the Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council and Bahkat Cherum, ex-Council member, visited relief camps at Bongoan, Khamari and Charak Para under Dudhnoi police station and distributed relief materials to the victims.
Meanwhile, president of the Garo Women’s Council Ms Anita Momin alleged that thousands of terrified Garos, mainly women, children and the elderly, fled to Meghalaya fearing a backlash from the Rabhas. She further alleged that no relief material has been provided to the relief and rehabilitation camps of Garo community.
Close call for Sangma, Agatha
TURA, Jan 7 – Security personnel under DC and SP of Goalpara district had to resort to lathicharge and firing in the air to rescue former Lok Sabha Speaker PA Sangma and his daughter Union Minister Agatha Sangma from a relief camp at Sotamatia near Dudhnoi today. The Garo leaders who turned up at the Rabha village without adequate security faced a tense situation before timely arrival of security forces averted any untoward development.