Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday said that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s North East Democratic Alliance has failed the region, a day after six persons died in Meghalaya after Assam Police opened fire at them.
The North East Democratic Alliance was formed in 2016 and comprises a coalition of BJP and regional parties of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, and Sikkim.
“Deeply saddened by the unfortunate incident at the Assam-Meghalaya border,” Kharge tweeted. “Six precious lives were lost. It is high time Union Home Minister resolves the border dispute between two states before things turn more hostile.”
Kharge also said that former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi played a “critical role in persuading many militant groups to abjure violence and join mainstream.”
Assam and Meghalaya have been engaged in a border dispute for decades and have been holding dialogues to resolve them. Territorial disputes between the two states began when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam on January 21, 1972, under the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971. Disputes arose at 12 locations after Meghalaya had challenged the law.
Assam is the only state with which Meghalaya shares an internal border.
On Tuesday, violence erupted at Mukroh village in Meghalaya’s West Jaintia Hills district, which borders Assam, after six people were killed. Five of those killed were residents of Meghalaya, while one was an official of the Assam Forest Guard, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had claimed.
The National People’s Party leader had said that the Assam Police and the Assam Forest Guard had chased down a truck carrying timber from their state before detaining it at Meghalayas’s Mukroh village.
However, Assam’s West Karbi Anglong District Superintendent of Police Imdad Ali told PTI that the forest guards opened fired at the truck carrying illegal timber, after it tried to flee. The villagers, armed with weapons, were demanding that the police release those in the truck, Ali said.
Authorities in the BJP-ruled Assam have also claimed that the village falls within their jurisdiction and only four persons died in the firing. On Tuesday evening, the Assam government suspended the officer in charge of the local police station and the police superintendent of the West Karbi Anglong district.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Meghalaya ministers led by Sangma will meet Union Home Minister Amit Shah on November 24 to demand an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation or the National Investigation Agency into the violence, reported PTI.