SHILLONG, Aug 31 - With tensions running high, officials from Meghalaya and Assam are engaging at the highest level to bring normalcy back in Block I area, adjoining Jainitia Hills-Karbi Anglong districts, after two bodies were recovered in the area recently.
On August 7, one body was recovered at Myrngi village. The person was later identified as one Babu Hamkar from the Karbi community. Later on August 14, one Laborious Nongrum from the Pnar community was found dead in the area.
These two deaths have led to tension running high in the area and rumours floated of a major build-up and retaliation from the Karbi Anglong side. Subsequently, 164 panicked Pnar residents fled their homes from Mukhim, Myrngi and Moojem villages and sought temporary shelter in different parts of Jaintia Hills since August 28.
�There is a lot of rumours going on in the area with some NGOs playing up these incidences. These two deaths are two separate cases and investigations are on by the Assam police,� Additional Chief Secretary, in-charge Home, KS Kropha told The Assam Tribune here today.
But owing to the sensitivity of the area and cases, Chief Secretaries of Meghalaya and Assam, together with District and local level officials are in touch to diffuse the tension in the area.
�We are engaging with our Assam counterpart from the highest to the lowest level, so that there is no mistrust between the people residing in the area,� Kropha added.
West Jaintia Hills DC, Arun Kumar Kembhavi said over phone from Jowai: �All 164 Pnar villagers returned to their respective homes today after assurance given by DC of Karbi Anglong, and SP, Hamren on their safety.�
Kembhavi said he is constantly in touch with his Assam counterpart and also with other senior officials from Karbi Anglong. �We are trying to diffuse the tension and we have also met today.�
In 2003, a similar violence between the two ethnic communities led to over 4,000 people from Khasi-Pnar community fleeing their homes. Block I and II of Assam have a large number of villages belonging to indigenous tribes of Meghalaya.
These areas are poorly administered and there are regular reports of villagers being subjected to harassment and extortion by insurgents and also anti-socials.
However, the Assam Government has made Hamren into a police district and there are indications that it would be upgraded into a district to bring the administration closer to the people.
�There would be a peace meeting at Khanduli Forest IB on September 3 between the Karbi and Pnar community. Officials from both Jaintia Hills and Karbi Anglong would also participate,� Kembhavi informed.