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Two baby girls lose their fathers in Meghalaya violence

By The Assam Tribune

SHILLONG, March 3: Two baby girls, one of them just four-month-old, have lost their fathers in the violence between tribal and non-tribal groups over implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Meghalaya.

The four-month-old's father, Uphas Uddin, was killed in the early hours of Sunday by three unidentified assailants who broke into his home at Pyrkan village in Meghalayas East Khasi Hills district and stabbed him.

Another baby girl, who was adopted just a fortnight ago in Assams Barpeta district, met the same fate when her adoptive father Rupchan Dewan was stabbed by two unidentified assailants at Iewduh market, in the heart of Shillong on Saturday.

Police are yet to make any arrest in both the cases.

The two deaths followed the killing of a pro-ILP activist, 35 year-old Lurshai Hynniewta, who was attacked by a mob at Ichamati on Friday evening.

Hynniewta, a father of four children, was a member of the influential Khasi Students Union and was cremated on Monday at his hometown in Sohra.

The clashes had broken out between Khasi Students' Union members and non-tribals during a rally organised against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act and to demand implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) at Ichamati on Friday.

Inner Line Permit is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period. It is obligatory for Indian citizens from outside those states to obtain a permit for entering into the protected state.

Eyewitnesses told PTI that two masked men had come running to the small shop where Dewan was selling tomatoes at Iewduh market and attacked him with a sharp machete. He was taken to Shillong Civil Hospital where he was declared brought dead.

Jodu Choudhary, a vegetable vendor who hails from Silchar in Assam and is under treatment at the hospital for stab injuries suffered during the clash, said the two masked assailants had first attacked him but their machete missed his chest and hit him on the shoulder. The two attackers then targeted Dewan, who was his neighbour at the busy traditional market, before they disappeared among the crowd.

Dewan lived in a one-room rented accommodation at Laban area in Shillong which is inhabited by all communities.

His landlady, Parveen Nongrum broke down while narrating the incident. She said that Dewan did not have any children of his own and had recently returned from his home in Barpeta after adopting a baby girl with his wife.

Dewan's wife, she said, has barely spoken since his cremation on Sunday.

A police officer said that Uphas Uddin was known to have facilitated the safe passage of illegal cattle to Bangladesh and investigations are on to ascertain if the killing had taken place due to personal enmity as he had married a Khasi woman.

Uphas Uddin's wife B Lyndai is now only one to fend for the four-month-old baby girl.

KSU president L Marngar denied that the student union's activists were behind the attacks on the two men or the sporadic attacks on life and property since Friday.

Claiming that the pro-ILP worker who was killed at Ichamati was a KSU member, he expressed sorrow that it took place during the "peaceful rally" (against CAA and to demand implementation of the Inner Line Permit). He claimed it had turned ugly as hundreds of migrants armed with machetes and sticks attacked the convoy of KSU members.

Marngar said the attack on the KSU members were premeditated as the attackers were armed with traditional weapons and had ill intention.

Police have so far arrested eight people from Ichamati area for their alleged involvement in the attacks on the KSU members.

"We demand justice. We demand that the police arrest all those who were armed on Friday. From the video clips, we find there were more people involved," Marngar said.

"An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. Your sacrifice for the Khasi jaitbynriew (community) wont go in vain," KSU general secretary Do Thabah posted as a tribute to Lurshai on his social media handle.

The KSU has been against the Citizenship Amendment Act and is demanding that the hill people of the state be protected by implementing the Inner Line Permit, like in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

East Khasi Hills district magistrate M W Nongbri has clamped 12 hours curfew in the Shillong city and its outskirts apprehending a serious deterioration in law and order.

"There is likelihood of serious breach of peace and tranquility and may lead to loss of life and property," he said, adding the curfew has been clamped in Shillong agglomeration and adjoining areas from 6 pm on March 2 till 6 am on March 3, he said. - PTI

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