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Correspondent WILLIAMNAGAR, JAN 4:
Published on 5 Jan. 2011 7:09 PM IST
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Border Security Force (BSF) Tuesday staged a flag march on curfew bounded areas in Meghalaya, even as the situation remained tense.
Curfew was imposed in Mendipathar and its adjoining areas of East Garo Hills district Monday night after an ethnic clash between the Garo and Rabha tribal groups. More than 2000 Rabha families have been displaced after more than 200 houses were allegedly torched by Garos at Rabhapara dominated villages in retaliation for the recent attacks on Garos by Rabha youths, police said.
The displaced people have been temporarily accomodated 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 (violence),” Sangma said. He also appealed to both the warring tribes to maintain peace and to cooperate with the district authorities to restore normalcy.
East Garo Hills District Deputy Commissioner, Pravin Bakshi said one company of BSF troops staged flag march in the curfew bounded areas in Mendipathar and its adjoining areas for area domination. Two more companies of BSF troops and one column of Sikh Light Infantry would be deployed Wednesday morning to assist the state 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.The curfew was imposed to protect civilian life and property from the designs of anti-social elements,” Bakshi said.
Meghalaya Home Minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh Tuesday 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 and respect the curfew in areas where it has been enforced,” Lyngdoh said. Appealing to both the warring tribes to maintain peace, Meghalaya’s Leader of Opposition Conrad K. Sangma suggested Lyngdoh himself take stock of the situation and take up the issue with his Assam counterpart.
“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 61 and other roads connecting Assam and Meghalaya (Garo Hills region) from today (Tuesday),” Sangma said. Meanwhile, the influtential Garo Students’ Union (GSU) is scheduled to held a meeting with the All Rabha Students’ Union (ARSU) to constitute a peace committee to douse the tense situation. “We will convince the ARSU leaders to constitute a peace committee in to restore normalcy between the tribes (Garo and Rabha),” GSU President Tengsak G Momin said.
Meanwhile, the IANS quoting East Garo Hills District Deputy Commissioner Pravin Bakshi said: “The curfew was clamped after minor ethnic clash between the Garos and Rabha groups,”
He said the fighting broke out after some Garo youths and two Meghalaya police jeeps were allegedly attacked by the people from Rabha community.
Around 40 houses belonging to the Rabha community at Rabhapara village under Mendipathar police station were torched, Bakshi said. PTI yesterday reported that a clash had broken out between Garo and Rabha groups at Nolbari bordering Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district and Assam’s Goalpara district on Saturday evening.
The officer in charge of Mendipathar police station (Meghalaya), who had rushed to the spot, was gheraod by miscreants and manhandled, sources had said.

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