TURA, Jan 9 – Ethnic violence between the Garos and the Rabhas has escalated on the Assam side of the border, while in Mendipathar-Resubelpara region of East Garo Hills the situation remained tense but under control.
Mobs armed with lethal weapons attacked and burnt down two Garo villages- Chigisim and Kaldang, and also set on fire Kasikagra village, in the Hudakona panchayat block area under Kukurkata police outpost in Assam.
When the mob began to set on fire houses at Kasikagra, the Garo villagers retaliated and a hand-to-hand pitch battle took place. As many as 23 houses were destroyed at Kasikagra.
Additional companies of the Army have been deployed in the entire stretch from Bajengdoba to Paikan to prevent mobs of arsonists going on a rampage. The first batch of Army personnel arrived at the scene of last night’s violence-hit zone by 6 pm today and began fanning out.
Gendabari Rabha village was also badly affected in the retaliatory attacks.
The casualty figure from Saturday night’s attacks included one Rabha youth from Gendabari and 35-year-old Sensen Momin of Chigisim who were killed in the attack.
Following the night attack over 200 Garo women and children have taken refuge on the premises of Hudakona Primary School.
Meanwhile, four Rabha youths who had sneaked into Bajengdoba area from Kukurkata side to attack innocent civilians were caught red-handed by East Garo Hills police and the BSF deployed in the area.
“They were part of a group of arsonists who had entered Berubari area of Bajengdoba but villagers informed us beforehand and we were able to nab them,” informed police sources. Police seized machetes, country-made guns and crude bombs from the possession of the four attackers.
Additional Central forces sought: Meanwhile, Union Minister of State for Rural Development, Agatha K Sangma, expressed concern over the escalating violence and sought additional Central forces to tackle the situation along the Assam-Meghalaya border.
Following the torching of houses in Kasikagra and other adjoining Garo and Rabha villages on Saturday night, Smt Sangma spoke to Union Home Secretary G K Pillai and U K Bansal, Secretary for Internal Secretary, Central Government, highlighting the need to have ‘neutral’ forces from Delhi to contain the violence.
The Union Minister expressed shock over the alleged remarks made by Meghalaya DGP to the Union Home Ministry that additional forces were not required to tackle the ongoing crisis.
“Bansal informed me that he was made to understand that sufficient forces are in place, by the Meghalaya DGP S B Kakati. I questioned the DGP on his reply and he was unaware that even three companies from the allotted ten for Garo Hills had been withdrawn for deployment in Assam,” said the Minister of State.