Karbi union demands safety measures for border residents

“Residents insecure in the absence BOP at Umkhirmi”

GUWAHATI: The Karbi Students Association has appealed to the West Karbi Anglong district administration to ensure protection for residents of Umkhirmi near the Assam-Meghalaya border in the wake of an “aborted” move to set up a border outpost in the village.

Assam police had set up a border outpost at Umkhirmi village, about four km from the inter-state border, but were compelled to dismantle the temporary structure on Wednesday after villagers from West Jaintia Hills allegedly objected to the move and confronted them, “claiming the land belonged to Meghalaya”.

Speaking to The Shillong Times on Saturday, the association’s central committee president, Samson Teron said umpteen memoranda have been submitted to the state government in the past requesting measures for safety of the villagers in the area, but to no avail.

“There are at least seven villages near where the border outpost (Khatkasla) was set up on Tuesday but dismantled the very next day. Umkhirmi has not seen development for decades despite being one of the oldest villages. There are 200 Karbi Christian families for whom development and safety matter but have eluded them for so many years,” Teron said.

The KSA leader demanded that the BOP should be set up in the village for the safety of the villagers. “The police personnel manning the outpost should be armed with sophisticated weapons,” Teron said.  

The Umtang river is the constitutional boundary between the West Karbi Anglong and West Jaintia Hills districts.

Teron alleged that despite several areas near the non-riverine border under encroachment with illegal settlements coming up over the years, the Assam government has remained a mute spectator.

“In such a situation, it is time that the non-riverine border in the area is sealed. For now, we are not thinking about any democratic agitation. We will wait and watch before taking any decision,” he said.

The BOP at Khatkasla was sanctioned by the Assam government and reportedly about 50 police personnel were to be posted there.  

Status quo

Meanwhile, Assam police have said that the situation in the area has returned to normal.

“The situation is peaceful now at Umkhirmi and status quo is being maintained after officials from West Karbi Anglong and West Jaintia Hills had met and discussed the matter,” Hamren superintendent of police, Mrinal Talukdar told The Shillong Times.

“This BOP has been sanctioned by the state government in the allotted area and as of now there is no shift in stance till further directions. We have just temporarily dismantled the structure and kept the items at a safe place,” Talukdar said.

The SP said that police would keep close vigil in the area.

Sources said that there is a police outpost at Mokoilum, which is about 20km from Umkhirmi.

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