Hours after Six people including five Meghalaya villagers were killed and several others injured in Assam Police’s open firing on the Assam-Meghalaya boundary early on November 22, senior Trinamool Congress leader and former Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma terms the incident as “genocide.”
Sangma visited the survivors of the firing incident at the Jowai Civil Hospital and the kin of the deceased, assuring them of full support.
The incident took place when a team from the Assam forest department tried to intercept a truck allegedly carrying smuggled timber, around 7 am. The vehicle sped away, leading to a chase that ended in Meghalaya territory after the forest guards managed to puncture one of the truck’s tyres. Local villagers saw this as trespass and surrounded the Assam police and forest guards. Five villagers were killed in Assam Police firing. The sixth deceased is an Assam police officer.
Meghalaya has been witnessing the massive protests across state following the killings.
Cornering the NPP-led MDA government, Dr. Mukul Sangma emphasized on the importance of following SOPs to deal with such incidents. He said, “From what has happened today and the preceding incidents that have been happening, I can draw a conclusion that both, the Government of Meghalaya and the Government of Assam have completely disconnected themselves from the SOPs that has been laid based on the mutually agreed terms and conditions to deal with problems along the areas of difference. Whatever collective effort has been made by the preceding government of the past, it has been completely ignored. They are completely disconnected from reality.”
Calling this incident as a ‘genocide’ and complete failure of the state in providing safety and security to the people residing in border areas, he said, “As per the inputs made available to us, it is a genocide. We have to see the circumstances leading to the situation. Over the decades, similar challenges have confronted us. Having learnt from the past, we have mutually had exhaustive discussion, deliberation and engagement, SOPs were laid down to deal with such situations. In the recent past, it has been observed that they have completely deviated from the SOPs and there is absolute lack of coherence between the states.”
Dr. Mukul Sangma, further recalled the 2010 Langpih incident and said, “See, if you revisit 2010, when a similar kind situation took place in Langpih, I visited the area of occurrence and met the affected people. We observed a sense of insecurity amongst the people as the police from Meghalaya side was removed in 1989 for whatever reasons by the Government of Meghalaya. So, the first thing that we did was that we confronted the Government of Assam; ensured that under no circumstances our people should be subjected with a sense of insecurity. Therefore, we reinstalled the presence of police in that area, and we followed up with our counterpart to ensure that no such instances of infringing upon the rights of the people happen”, he added.
Furthermore, he said, “We are highly disturbed by this incident. Therefore, I would like to appeal to all concerned to maintain calm and only insist that the law of the land to take its own course. The government must assume upon itself without any further delay to ensure justice as per the law of the land. To all the concerned across the region, I appeal to maintain a peaceful environment. We want to see that the government fulfil its legal, social and all other necessary responsibilities.”