Shillong, Jan 7 (IANS): Curfew was relaxed in Meghalaya's Resublepara area today as the toll in the ethnic clashes between Garo and Rabha tribals rose to eight with the recovery of three bodies and one person dying of his injuries, officials said.
Curfew in the Resublepara sub-division in East Garo Hills district bordering Assam was relaxed for three hours from 2 pm.
"We will be monitoring the law-and-order situation during the relaxation period and a decision for further relaxation will be taken accordingly," East Garo district Deputy Commissioner Pravin Bakshi said.
Curfew was imposed in Mendipathar, in Resublepara, and adjoining areas Monday night after clashes between the two warring tribes on New Year's Day. Since Thursday, curfew has been also imposed in the Resublepara region.
The toll rose to eight with three bodies being recovered and one person succumbing to his injuries at Tura civil hospital.
Meghalaya Home Minister HDR Lyngdoh is camping in Resublepara and holding meetings with civil society groups' leaders to defuse the situation. People are facing an acute shortage of essential commodities.
"There is complete shortage of food. We don't even have rice and salt and we are expecting the government to provide immediate relief," said L.C. Momin, a villager in Resublepara.
The government has been running helicopter services twice a day to ferry people stranded in the Garo Hills to return to Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya.
"Essential commodities, including petrol and diesel, may be also air lifted for supply to Garo Hills if the impasse continues," Transport Minister A.T. Mondal said.
Over 20,000 Garo and Rabha tribals have been displaced from their homes in Assam and Meghalaya due to ethnic clashes between the two communities. The figure could increase, official sources said.
"We have set up six relief and rehabilitation camps in Kharkutta, Mendhipathar, Dainadubi and Dilma in East Garo Hills district. All steps are being taken to provide blankets, clean and safe drinking water, food and medical assistance to the displaced victims," Bakshi said.