Friday, January 27, 2023

After border killings, non-cooperation in M’laya; Assam issues travel advisory

Attendance in government offices in Meghalaya was ‘thin’ on Friday in response to a call by various organisations for a non-cooperation movement in protesting against the November 22 violence along the border with Assam, which left six people dead, officials said.
Assam police officials on Friday issued a fresh advisory asking its citizens not to travel to Meghalaya as the situation is still “not very good” in the neighbouring state where police vehicles were torched and several people were injured during protests on the previous night.
In a relief to the people of Meghalaya, the Assam Petroleum Mazdoor Union (APMU) decided to resume transportation of fuel to that state, which it has suspended on Thursday, following assurance of security of tankers and crew from the neighbouring state.
“Yesterday in Shillong, public burnt police vehicles. The situation is not very good. That’s why we are advising people not to travel (to Meghalaya),” Deputy Commissioner (East) of Guwahati Police Sudhakar Singh told PTI.
Cachar Superintendent of Police Nomal Mahatta also said a similar restriction on people and vehicles from Assam entering Meghalaya through his district also is in force.
Several social organisations and student associations of Meghalaya, including the influential Khasi Students Union (KSU) and the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People, declared a “non-cooperation movement” following the incident.
“We urged our brothers and sisters working in both central and state governments to support us by not attending offices on Friday as a mark of respect to the victims of extra-judicial firing at Mukroh by Assam Police,” KSU general secretary Donald V Thabah said.
In the Meghalaya capital Shillong, attendance was thin in both central and state government offices, officials said.
The situation is the same in the seven districts of Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills region, senior officials of the districts told PTI.
Violence erupted in a portion of the Meghalaya capital shortly after a demonstration and a candlelight vigil concluded on Thursday night.
Police had to use tear gas shells to bring the situation under control as unidentified miscreants lobbed petrol bombs at a police bus and a jeep besides pelting the police personnel with stones injuring four of them. Three civilians were also assaulted nearby.
Shops and business establishments run by non-tribals in Khyndailad, Lewduh and certain other areas in Shillong remained shut since Thursday, apprehending violence.
Security in areas, identified as vulnerable, in the city was tightened, a senior district official told PTI.
The violence had led to the suspension of fuel supply from Assam to Meghalaya.
Earlier, the Assam Petroleum Mazdoor Union had sent letters to IOC, HPCL and BPCL, informing them of its decision to not load fuel in tankers meant for Meghalaya following attacks on trucks supplying non-petroleum products in the last two days. However, the decision was changed on Friday.
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Friday said there is no shortage of petrol and diesel in the state and requested all citizens not to resort to panic buying of any essential commodities. Food and Civil Supplies director Pravin Bakshi directed the deputy commissioner of seven districts bordering Assam to arrange for police escorts to vehicles coming from Assam after APMU announced that it has stopped transporting fuel to Meghalaya fearing violence.

Garo organizations seek clarification

Five socio political groups Garo Hills, FKJGP, AYWO, ADE, FAF and the GSU, observed two hours non-cooperation movement in entire Garo Hills region on from 1 pm to 3 pm on Friday as a mark of solidarity with families of the victims who were killed at Mukroh on November 22. The five groups urged the chief minister and the home minister of Meghalaya to clarify on the exact series of events that took place leading to indiscriminate firing by the Assam police and forest personnel that claimed six lives at Mukroh on November 22.
In a video statement the NCM, FKJGP President Pritam Arengh said, “As of now, media reports have claimed that the Assam police chased a timber smuggling truck into Meghalaya and were in the process of detaining the vehicle when the local people, in support of the smugglers attacked the Assam officials forcing them to open fire. This is not true”.
“Our colleagues from Shillong have visited ground zero and talked to the people and it has been revealed that a civilian Maruti 800 vehicle, which was carrying rice for personal consumption was detained by the Assam police. We have also come to know that the firing started when a huge crowd came to defend the occupants of the vehicle after the Assam officials began harassing them,” Pritam added. Seeking clarification from the government on the sequence of events leading up to the firing, Pritam said that it was imperative that a clarification be given to the media through a statement so that the actual truth comes out. “Until now, media reports have insinuated that the people of Mukroh were supporting the timber smugglers,” he stated. (Correspondent)

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