Army stages flag march after fresh arson along Assam-Meghalaya



Goalpara/Shillong: Army staged flag march along the ethnic violence-hit Assam-Meghalaya border after fresh incidents of arson were reported despite curfew on both the sides.

Several houses were set ablaze in the Kukurkata area of Assam's Goalpara district and clashes between Rabha and Garo were reported at Hatigaon area of East Garo Hills district of Meghalaya last night, official sources said.

However, no casualty was reported.

The army staged flag march in the two districts along the interstate state border as a confidence building measure and to prevent violence.

The indefinite curfew clamped since Wednesday in Dhupdhora, Dudhnoi, Ranjuli and Krishnai police stations in Goalpara was relaxed from 7 am to 4 pm today by the district administration.

However, curfew in Resubelpara subdivision in East Garo Hills, imposed on January 3, will not be relaxed today in view of the incidents which has escalated tension on the border, a Shillong report said.

The report said two Garo-dominated villages – Khasigagra and Chingisin in Assam were attacked last night by a mob, who set ablaze a number of houses after the inhabitants fled.

Security forces reached the area and fired in the air to disperse the mob.

Eleven people were arrested on the Assam side and four on the Meghalaya side since last night, official sources said in Shillong.

Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, who visited the affected areas, said two companies of the army along with CRPF and police had been deployed in the area with instructions to deal firmly with the miscreants.

About 30,000 people had taken shelter in 26 relief camps opened by Goalpara district administration, he said.

East Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi said there were reports of exodus of people from Assam into Meghalaya after the incident.

Goalpara Deputy Commissioner P K Goswami said patrolling by security forces has been intensified in the two districts. "Yesterday three companies of paramilitary forces had arrived and today some more companies are arriving." Meghalaya Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mushahari, on a visit to his home district Kokrajhar in Assam, reviewed the situation at Dudhnoi, officials said.

At least eight people have been killed in the ethnic violence between the Rabhas and the Garos since New Year's day.

PTI