An Assam Forest Department office and two vehicles in Meghalaya were set ablaze after five civilians were killed in police firing in a disputed area along the border between the two states the previous day, officials claimed on Wednesday, reported PTI.
On Tuesday, violence had erupted in Mukroh village 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, adding the village was part of his state.
The Assam government, however, had claimed that only four persons were killed and that the village fell under its jurisdiction.
Territorial disputes between the two states had begun when Meghalaya was carved out of Assam on January 21, 1972, under the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971. Disputes arose after Meghalaya had challenged the law.
Following the violence, officials told PTI that the villagers armed themselves and marched to the beat office under the Kheroni Forest Range located along the inter-border in Assam and vandalised it. They then torched office properties such as furniture, documents and motorcycles, one of the officials told the news agency, adding that no office personnel were injured.
A government vehicle was also torched in Mukhroh village and a car bearing Assam’s number plate was set on fire in Shillong, officials said.
The Khasi Students’ Union has taken responsibility for torching the office and the government vehicle, according to PTI.
The owner of the vehicle that was set on fire in Shillong told India Today NE that the police had stopped them from travelling further due to tense situation.
“While we were looking for an alternate route to return back, suddenly a strong mob of around 20-30 men reached here and we moved away from our vehicle,” the driver said. “The mob torched the vehicle while we stood here standing helpless.”
The Assam Police are cautioning drivers of vehicles registered in Assam from entering Meghalaya and have set up barricades at various points in Guwahati and Cachar district.
“Since yesterday, we have been advising people not to go to Meghalaya till the situation completely normalises,” Guwahati Deputy Commissioner (East) Sudhakar Singh told PTI. “We are only requesting the private and small car owners not to travel as miscreants are targeting such vehicles there.”
Meanwhile, members of the Khasi Students’ Union held demonstrations at a Jaintia Hills district hospital where the bodies of all the six killed persons were brought for postmortem. The union demanded that those responsible for the killing be handed over to the Meghalaya Police.