Day curfew lifted in Meghalaya’s riot-hit areas

Friday, January 14, 2011

MENDIPATHAR - After more than a week of tension, people in the riot-hit areas of Meghalaya’s Resulbelpara breathed easier Friday as curfew was relaxed during day time.

Amid massive security arrangements, life returned to near normalcy in the sub-division, which was rocked by ethnic violence between the Garo and Rabha tribes that was sparked off on New Year’s Day.

More than 2,000 internally displaced people have been repatriated to their homes.

“The situation is returning to normal. People have started leaving the relief camps to return to their respective homes,” East Garo Hills District Deputy Commissioner Pravin Bakshi told IANS.

“The day curfew has been lifted, but night curfew will continue till the situation is completely normal,” he said.

Bakshi said prohibitory orders banning the assembly of more than five people will continue to be in force in the riot-hit areas.

Indefinite curfew was imposed in Mendipathar and adjoining areas of East Garo Hills district Jan 3 night after clashes started between the Garo and Rabha tribal groups.

Joint Secretary (Northeastern States) Shambu Singh had told IANS the ethnic clashes between the two warring tribes on the Assam-Meghalaya border were “very well planned and there maybe some organisations behind it.”

“We will investigate and action will be taken against those who incited the clashes,” Singh said.

The influential Garo Students Union asked the central government to institute a commission of inquiry to probe the conflict.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has announced compensation of Rs.3 lakh to the next of kin of those killed and Rs.10,000 each for displaced families. The government would bear all expenses for the treatment of the injured, he added.

At least 10 people were killed and as many as 300 houses on both sides of the riot-hit areas of Assam’s Goalpara and Meghalaya’s East Garo Hills district were burnt down.

Nearly 50,000 people have been displaced in the clashes.

Central Reserve Police Force Deputy Inspector General B. Sengupta, who is camping in the area to control the law and order situation, said normalcy is slowly returning, but people are still in fear. It will take some time to instil confidence in their minds, he added.

Two peace committees - at the joint inter-district (East Garo Hills and Goalpara) and village levels - have been constituted as part of confidence building measures.

The committees have as members district officials, religious leaders and civil society groups from both the warring tribes.

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