Death toll five, curfew extended in Meghalaya areas

Thursday, January 6, 2011

SHILLONG - Curfew was extended to other areas in Meghalaya’s Resubelpara sub-division Thursday in the wake of escalation of violence in the ethnic clashes between Garo and Rabha tribals along the Meghalaya-Assam border in which the death toll rose to five.

Thousands of people were displaced in the clashes between two warring tribes which were sparked off on New Year’s Day.

Authorities extended the curfew in the entire Resubelpara sub-division.

State’s Commissioner of Divisions Peter W. Ingty said that the death toll has increased to five with Gopi Rabha, one of the eight injured in Wednesday’s clash at Gokulgre area, succumbing to injuries at Tura Civil hospital.

Sporadic incidents of Garos youths burning abandoned houses belonging to the Rabha community were reported from remote areas.

“Though, there is no large-scale of violence, the situation remains tense in the violence hit areas,” Ingty told IANS.

He said the army has been called in to assist police and paramilitary in the violence-hit East Garo Hills district.

The Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force are also assisting police in enforcing the curfew in Mendiapathar and its adjoining areas.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma was in touch with Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in the wake of the communal flare up.

“I strongly feel that a united effort from the governments (Assam-Meghalaya) is imperative to restore normalcy in the area,” Sangma said.

Meghalaya Governor R.S. Mooshahary appealed to both the two tribes to stop the mutually destructive violence.

Union Minister of State for Rural Development Agatha K. Sangma, a local MP from Tura, Meghalaya Home Minister H.D.R Lyngdoh and former Lok Sabha speaker P.A. Sangma rushed to the area Thursday morning to take stock of the situation.

The clashes between the two warring tribes erupted on New Year’s day when the Rabhas attacked a wedding party of the Garos and also targeted a Garo pastor.

Over 4,000 Rabha families have been displaced after more than 200 houses were allegedly torched by Garo tribals in retaliation to recent attacks on Garos by Rabha youths.

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