From Eric Calvin Ranee
SABUDA: In the strongest ever protest yet against Assam excesses in the disputed areas of Block-II, a 400-strong crowd comprising of men, women and activists of four NGOs – KSU North Khasi Hills unit, Confederation of Ri Bhoi People (CoRP), Hynniewtrep National People Federation (HNPF) and Civil Society Women’s Organization (CSWO-Irene) took to the streets on Friday afternoon to dismantle the entrance gate and the SBI Building at Sabuda, being constructed by the Assam Government.
However, the people were prevented from going to Sabuda by magistrates and a strong police contingent of Ri Bhoi District posted at Mawlasnai Bridge to prevent any breakdown of law and order in Sabuda area and also to prevent a possible confrontation between the local people and the Assam police personnel who were stationed at the entrance to Sabuda.
Leaving nothing to chance, the Ri-Bhoi district administration deployed Additional District Magistrate I Mawlong and two Executive Magistrates Jonathan Shylla and Rap Kharbihkhiew, while Ri-Bhoi Superintendent of Police CVS Reddy personally supervised the security along with his three deputies BJ Laloo, SK Biswa and S Marsing and a strong police contingent including women police constables.
On receipt of information of the deployment of police forces at Khyndewso and Mawlasnai, the villagers from Sabuda, Madan Umwang and other adjoining villages took to the forest paths as to be able to reach Mawlasnai where they assembled together at the market place along with the NGO leaders. Those travelling from Umlaper in vehicles were, however, stopped by Assam police and could not make it to Mawlasnai.
On reaching Mawlasnai Bridge, the people were prevented from going any further by the magistrates, leading to heated arguments. Finding no alternative, leaders of the NGOs decided to meet the Karbi Anglong authorities posted at Sabuda including Superintendent of Police NN Goswami and SDO (Civil) I Hussain and others.
During the meeting, the NGOs leaders urged the SP and the SDO (Civil) to halt the construction of the entrance gate and SBI buildings until the matter was resolved on whether ‘Block-II belonged to Assam or Meghalaya’. The NGOs also asked the Assam officials to stop harassing the Khasi people living in the disputed areas.
The Assam officials promised to take up the matters with the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and the Assam government and also made an assurance that no Khasi people will be harassed.
After the NGO leaders returned from the meeting, the crowd dispersed peacefully.
Later, the local residents asked the Meghalaya Government to sanction a police outpost either at Sabuda or Madan Umwang or Umlaper to ensure their security.
However, the NGO leaders condemned Home Minister Roshan Warjri for not deploying police force at Sabuda.
An appeal was also made to the State Government to resolve the border dispute at the earliest and also to take strong action against Assam for their continuous infringement in Block-II areas.