Border row takes ethnic turn, 5 feared killed
A boundary row between Assam and Meghalaya took an ugly ethnic turn on Friday. It claimed at least five persons though Assam Police has confirmed the recovery of two bodies.india Updated: May 15, 2010 00:36 IST
A boundary row between Assam and Meghalaya took an ugly ethnic turn on Friday. It claimed at least five persons though Assam Police has confirmed the recovery of two bodies.
The village of Langpih, some 100 km southwest of here, has been at the centre of a dispute for the past two years. The village straddles Kamrup district of Assam and West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya.
Both states claim the entire village. Reason: it has tonnes of coal beneath besides – as a 2008 report said – substantial quantity of uranium. In May that year, Assam Police set up an outpost in the village allegedly to justify Assam’s claim over it.
Various Meghalaya organizations have often accused Assam Police of animosity against Khasi and Garo tribal people of the village. It was apparently no different on Friday when the villagers clashed with Nepali settlers at a weekly market there. The Nepalese reside in the Assam part of the village.
A Kamrup district administration official said a 2,000-strong mob attacked the Nepalese forcing the Assam Police to open fire. At least five persons died and 40 others were injured. Kamrup SP Partha Sarathi Mahanta, however, said only two bodies were recovered from the trouble-torn area. “The situation is tense. We have deployed additional forces,” he said, adding the mob had attacked the police outpost.
Meghalaya police chief Sivabrata Kakati declined to comment and put the onus on the Assam Police. The Khasi Students Union (KSU), though, accused Assam of using Nepalese settlers against the indigenous tribal people to “give a vicious dimension to the boundary dispute”.
“We condemn this design, and all social organizations of Meghalaya are meeting on Saturday. This incident is also an outcome of the Meghalaya government’s inability to set up a police outpost at Langpih,” KSU leader Samuel Jyrwa told HT from Shillong.