Shillong: Meghalaya Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui on Wednesday accused the Assam government of stirring up trouble at Iongkhuli village in State’s Ri-Bhoi district bordering Assam.
“Unfortunately there is tension in Iongkhuli. It was never a disputed area. Don’t know on what grounds the Assam government has raised this issue in Iongkhuli,” Rymbui said.
Saying that the “tension in Iongkhuli village is unfortunate”, the Home Minister said, “Iongkhuli was never a disputed area and the two states only recognized 12 areas of dispute. Iongkhuli has always been a part of Meghalaya and people enjoyed developmental schemes from the Meghalaya government.”
A clash broke out on Monday between residents of Iongkhuli village and Assam police after the latter allegedly uprooted electric poles erected by Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL).
This infuriated the villagers who said the MeCL has the right to erect the poles as it falls under Meghalaya. After that, the Assam administration sent in a huge deployment of security forces.
Fortunately, the situation was brought under control due to the quick intervention of higher authorities from both sides.
Assuring to protect every inch of Meghalaya’s territory, the Home Minister said that adequate police forces have been deployed in the area.
“We have sent the Superintendent of Police (Ri-Bhoi district) and Inspector General (law and order) to the area to diffuse tension. CRPF personnel have also been posted,” Rymbui said.
Urging the Assam government to have “better sense” and not try to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere in the bordering areas, Rymbui said that maybe there are some people in Assam who don’t want the ongoing border talks to succeed.
Noting that the ongoing talks that are scheduled to be held on August 6 in Assam should be held in “a congenial atmosphere,” Rymbui cautioned that such incidents can “hamper or derail the discussions.”
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress in Meghalaya has condemned the alleged ‘invasion’ by Assam into Meghalaya territory and ‘manhandling’ of the local member of the District Council.
“We were shocked by the sensational and disturbing news of the invasion of the state of Assam into the territory of Meghalaya state
by intruding into Iongkhuli village near Killing village under Ri-Bhoi district by the Assam Police, who came in four buses led by a Superintendent of Police rank officer,” senior Congress legislator Zenith Sangma said.
“We condemn this illegal act of Assam Police where they manhandled our elected MDC, Charles Magnar in the strongest word we can ever pronounce. We thank the local people for being the whistleblower and defending fearlessly by opposing the Assam Police from removing the electricity poles erected by the MeECL and claiming the portion of land to be part of Assam,” Sangma said in a statement.
Stating that Iongkhuli is an integral part of the territory of Meghalaya, the opposition Congress legislator asked, “How can Police Force of Assam trespass? Is the Government sleeping so long or is it because of the weak leadership or the present Government does not bother with all these. We want the reply.”
“Wake up and correct the matter immediately through dialogue with the intervention of Government of India,” he demanded.