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Border unrest: Meghalaya CM asks for more troops

By Prasanna D Zore
January 09, 2011 16:12 IST
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Just a day after claiming that the Assam government did not do enough to contain the ethnic strife between the Rabhas and Garo tribes in areas bordering Assam, Meghalaya Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma said that both the states governments are trying their best to ensure peace and normalcy.
 
The ethnic strife that began on January 1 between Rabhas of Assam and Garos of Meghalaya has killed eight people and displaced more than 10,000 people on both sides of the state borders with sporadic bouts of violence still engulfing both states.
 
"The strife is between two communities that reside in the border areas of Assam and Meghalaya and both the state governments are trying our best. We are taking it up with the government of India also because to contain such kind of ethnic strife, definitely you need a firm hand and this is what both the governments are doing," Dr Sangma said.
 
Officials of Assam and Meghalaya administration are in touch with each other and they are appealing to all sections of people including political leaders, religious leaders and the civil society to come together and form peace committees and prevail upon people to preach the message of harmony, he added.
 
Dr Sangma said that he has asked Defence Minister A K Antony to deploy army personnel to contain the violence that reportedly has spread to some interiors parts in both states.
 
"We are constantly in touch with (the Centre)
and we have asked for five more companies of forces. I have also asked for deployment of army to the honourable defence minister," Sangma said
 
He said that ensuring visible presence of security forces was paramount to restoring normalcy.
 
"We have also requested the Assam government to ensure the same. At this time, the ethnic strife can be contained only when there is complete participation and involvement of all sections of the society," he said.
 
Sangma said that the urgent task before the two governments was restoring normalcy but refused to give any time frame for achieving this.
 
"After that, the most important thing would be to ensure that displaced people go back to their villages and are rehabilitated properly. A number of times we have seen that after an ethnic strife. when affected people go back to their respective villages they are homeless. Those issues need to be addressed first at the moment," he said about the priorities in front of his state administration.
 
He stated that in a pluralistic society like India, hatred and tolerance has no place. "We have to ensure that this is understood by everyone," he said.
 
"It is an ethnic strife and we have seen what happens and how ethnic strife has its own ugly tone, so we are trying our best," Sangma said.
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