Shillong: Six persons have died and two were seriously injured and two others seriously injured following violent clashes between villagers and Assam police on Tuesday morning at Mukroh village in Meghalaya’s West Jaintia Hills district, a police official said.
Of the six deaths, five were Pnar villagers from Mukroh village and one was a forest guard from Assam and the rest villagers from Mukroh.
“Three civilians and the Assam forest guard died on the spot, while two more persons succumbed to their injuries on the way to Barato Primary Health Centre in the area,” Chief Minister Conrad Sangma told reporters after holding an emergency meeting with members from the civil society.
He said the other two seriously injured have been shifted to Barato and other health centres in the area Mukroh is a village adjoining Assam’s West Karbi Anglong district.
“We strongly condemn the incident as the Assam police and forest guards entered into Meghalaya territory and open unprovoked firing leading to the unfortunate deaths and injuries,” the Chief Minister Sangma sai.
Sangma announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh to next of kin of those killed.
“The cabinet would hold an emergency meeting later this evening to take further decisions on the unfortunate incident,” he informed.
According to a Assam police official, the incident occurred at around 2:30 – 3:00 am when Assam forest guards directed a driver of a vehicle, which was loaded with timber, to stop.
“However, the driver of the vehicle didn’t pay heed forcing the Assam forest guards to open fire and punctured the vehicle’s tyre. The driver of the vehicle and two others were apprehended by forest officials and handed over to Assam police,” the official said.
Later, the Assam police personnel and forest officials went to seize the loaded truck and that’s when the trouble started.
“At around 7:00 – 7:30 am, a huge crowd had gathered around the vehicle and stopped the Assam forest and police officials from taking away the truck,” the police official said.
“The mob turned violent and attacked the officials with machetes and sticks. The Assam police then resorted to firing,” the police official said.
Meanwhile, the State government has suspended mobile internet service in seven districts in eastern part of the state after video from the incident went viral.
Mobile Internet services and data services of all mobile service providers has been suspended for the next 48 hours with effect from 10.30 am on November 22 as a precautionary measure to stop spread of rumours over the internet and to prevent any breakdown of law and order,” State Home Secretary, Cyril V.D.Diengdoh said.
Moreover, the state government has also deployed a large number of security forces in the state capital and other sensitive areas.
“We are closely monitoring the law and order situation and made adequate deployment of forces on the ground,” the Chief Minister said.
Earlier, Horne Minister Lahkmen Rymbui flew to Mukroh village to take stock of situation.
Assam Govt orders judicial inquiry
Assam government has ordered a judicial inquiry to ascertain the reasons leading up to violent incidents along the state’s border with Meghalaya, thatleft six civilians killed and several injured on Tuesday.
The superintendent of police of West Karbi Anglong under whose jurisdiction the incident occurred, has been transferred.
The government has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh each to the next of the six deceased persons.
The government also decided to hand over the investigation of the entire incident to a central agency.