Curfew continues in Meghalaya areas, BSF stages flag march (Night Lead)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

SHILLONG - The Border Security Force (BSF) Tuesday staged a flag march in areas put under curfew in Meghalaya following an ethnic clash a day earlier, even as the situation remained tense.

Curfew was imposed in Mendipathar and its adjoining areas of East Garo Hills district Monday night after a clash between the Garo and Rabha tribal groups.

More than 2,000 Rabha families have been displaced after more than 200 houses were allegedly torched by Garo tribals at Rabha-dominated villages in retaliation to the recent attacks on Garos by Rabha youths, police said.

The displaced people have been temporarily accommodated in four relief camps in Mendipathar area.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma rushed to the affected areas and reviewed the law and order situation with the district authorities and top Meghalaya police officials.

“I have assessed the law and order situation in the areas and instructed the district authorities to restore normalcy and maintain a strict vigil to ensure that there is no scope of escalation (of violence),” Sangma told IANS.

He also appealed to both the warring tribes to maintains peace and to cooperate with the district authorities to restore normalcy.

East Garo Hills District Deputy Commissioner Pravin Bakshi said BSF troops staged a flag march in the areas under curfew in Mendipathar and its adjoining areas.

More BSF troops and personnel of the Sikh Light Infantry would be deployed Wednesday morning to assist police in maintaining the law and order situation in the area, he said.

“We have decided not to relax the curfew in Mendipathar and its adjoining areas as the situation remains tense,” Bakshi said.

Meghalaya Home Minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh appealed to both the tribes to restore peace and normalcy in the area.

“They (Garo and Rabha) should not get swayed by elements instigating violence,” Lyngdoh said.

Meghalaya’s Leader of Opposition Conrad K. Sangma said: “The situation is very tense and it might flare up, especially after the All Rabha Students Union also imposed a 500-hour road blockade on NH-51 and NH-61 and other roads connecting Assam and Meghalaya (Garo Hills region) from today (Tuesday),” Sangma said.

The Garo Students’ Union (GSU) is scheduled to hold a meeting with the All Rabha Students’ Union (ARSU) to constitute a peace committee.

“We will convince the ARSU leaders to constitute a peace committee to restore normalcy between the tribes (Garo and Rabha),” said GSU president Tengsak G. Momin.

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