Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Wednesday that Assam Police could have exercised more restraint and avoided the unfortunate deaths of five Meghalaya residents and one forest guard in Mukroh village along the Assam-Meghalaya border on Tuesday.
Sarma said the incident appeared to be a result of “unprovoked firing” by Assam police personnel.
“I don’t think there was a need to open fire. It seems that our cops resorted to unprovoked firing,” he said. “The police could have exercised more restraint and avoid the loss of lives.”
The Chief Minister further said the firing in West Jaintia hills district of Meghalaya was not an inter-state border issue.
He added that the Assam government had ordered for a judicial probe.
“We have also requested for a probe by a central agency – either by CBI or the NIA – even before Meghalaya raised the demand,” he said.
Six people, including an Assam forest guard, died after the Assam Police allegedly opened fire at a crowd on Tuesday morning.
Among the six decreased persons, five were Meghalaya residents.
Sources said the clash between the Assam Police and a group of people from Meghalaya broke out after Karbi Aglong district forest officials seized a truck transporting illegal timber in the early hours of Tuesday.
The truck was intercepted on the Meghalaya border by an Assam Forest Department team at around 3 am.
As the truck tried to get away, the forest guards fired at it and punctured a tyre. The driver, a handyman and another person were apprehended while others managed to escape.
As police reached the spot, a strong mob from Meghalaya gathered at the spot at around 5 am.
As the mob gheraoed the forest guards and the police, demanding the immediate release of those arrested, the police fired at them to bring the situation under control.