BSF flag march in ethnic violence-hit M'laya, Army called in



Shillong: Indefinite curfew remained in force on Tuesday in ethnic violence-hit pockets of Meghalaya's East Garo Hills district, bordering Assam, where BSF personnel staged a flag march following the clashes which prompted the state to seek Army assistance.

"Army has been requisitioned and the administration is awaiting approval from the Centre for its deployment...100 BSF personnel staged flag march in some clash-hit areas, while 200 more would arrive tomorrow," Deputy Commissioner Pravin Bakshi said.

Indefinite curfew was clamped in Mendipathar, Salpara, Adokgre, Horinkata, Bajengdoba, Nolbari and Manikganj areas since last night after several cases of arson and burning of over 50 houses.

"The situation is tense. There would be no relaxation of curfew as of now," Bakshi, camping in the area, said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma reviewed the situation with top officials and visited the relief camps where around 2,500 people affected in the flare-up between Garo and Rabha groups at Nolbari bordering East Garo Hills district and Assam's Goalpara district were sheltered.

Urged people to maintain peace and not to be swayed by rumours, Sangma said, "We have asked for more forces and the Centre has responded positively...It is very important to ensure tolerance in the pluralistic nature of our democracy. There can be no room for hatred."

The trouble began between the two ethnic groups on Saturday and again flared-up yesterday.

A Meghalaya government statement attributed the clash to some "misunderstanding".

Some 3,000 people belonging to Rabha community crossed over to Assam after being targeted by Garo groups, while several hundreds were evacuated from the villages and shifted to a relief camp at Mendipathar College by the district administration.

Meghalaya Home Minister HDR Lyngdoh said the state government is in touch with Assam to control the situation.

In a related development, the All Rabha Students Union called for a 500-hour economic blockade against Meghalaya, protesting harassment by "miscreants".

PTI