TURA, Jan 10 � Fifty thousand people from both the Rabha and Garo communities living along the Assam and Meghalaya border have abandoned their homes and taken shelter in relief camps in the wake of the week-long violence that further escalated on Saturday.
The army and paramilitary forces deployed in the strife- torn region of Goalpara in Assam and East Garo Hills district of Meghalaya have been given orders to open fire on arsonists and those found violating curfew orders.
A high level delegation from the Union Home Ministry visited Goalpara and East Garo Hills districts to take stock of the situation.
During the meeting questions were raised by the delegation as to what was the reason for the violence. One of the probable causes for the escalating violence was found to be the large scale movement of people to and fro the two border regions seeking retaliatory attacks that had further compounded the ethnic problem.
Directions have been given to the authorities in both the States to deal strongly against those stoking the flames of hatred between the two communities. The army, Central paramilitary forces and the State police have been given orders to shoot at sight anyone found violating the curfew, carrying arms or attempting to torch houses.
Since violence first broke out, two persons in the Assam side of the border have been shot dead for torching homes.
In East Garo Hills the total number of displaced persons stood at 18, 308 who have been accommodated in 18 relief camps set up at Bajengdoba, Resubelpara and Mendipather.
In Goalpara district, authorities informed that the number of displaced people who fled their homes stood at a stagerring 30,000 from both Garo and Rabha villages.
Meanwhile, security forces have nabbed 300 arsonists from both the States. In Meghalaya, 100 people involved in group clashes and arson attacks have been detained while on Assam side the figure of arson detainees was 200.
Curfew was not relaxed for the second day in East Garo Hills district following tense situation on Sunday in which several thousand Garo men from various corners of Garo Hills gathered at Bajengdoba to cross over to Assam�s Kukurkata region in retaliation for the torching of three prominent Garo villages of Chigisim, Kasikhagra and Kaldang. The army had to seal all entry and exit points to the area to prevent the mob from crossing over.
The army, on Monday morning, opened fire in the air to chase away a mob of arsonists who tried to set fire to Belbari village of Assam close to Mendipather of East Garo Hills.
Although additional Central forces have been deployed in the violence-hit districts, five more companies of paramilitary forces have been sought by Meghalaya Government to prevent the violence from spreading.
Two houses belonging to the rabha community were torched in Williamnagar town on Sunday. Both houses had been abandoned by the owners who fled once the violence began to erupt.
Meanwhile, the Garo militant group, ANVC, currently on a ceasefire with New Delhi and Shillong has denied any involvement in the current situation. �Certain sections of the media have alleged that our organisation was involved in the ongoing violence. This is not at all true,� clarified Arist Sengsrang Sangma, Publicity Secretary of the ANVC.
He added that continuation of this senseless violence would prove detrimental to the people and the economy of the region as a whole.
The outfit urged upon both communities to shun violence and come together for a meaningful dialogue and thereby begin the process of rebuilding and rehabilitation.