Assam-Meghalaya Firing Incident: How Tourism & Transport services in the region may hit badly

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On Tuesday night, miscreants even torched an SUV and a few other Assam government vehicles, hours after the firing incident.
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Assam-Meghalaya Firing: Assam Allows Travel To Meghalaya
Assam-Meghalaya Firing: Assam Allows Travel To Meghalaya

Guwahati: Tourists from all over the globe who usually reach Meghalaya during the winter to view the scenic beauty of cherry blossom and other popular travel destinations of the state finding it difficult to reach the hill state as transportation, especially public, have been restricted in the aftermath of the Mukroh firing in which six people were killed on Tuesday.

Immediately after the incident, public transportation has been hit badly as Assam police restricted the movement of vehicles bearing Assam registration numbers to enter Meghalaya fearing a backlash. On Tuesday night, miscreants even torched an SUV and a few other Assam government vehicles, hours after the firing incident.

Amongst those who were killed, five were from Meghalaya while one forest guard from Assam was also killed. The body of the forest guard which remained in Meghalaya’s custody for several hours was later handed over to the state on Wednesday night. The deceased forest official identified as Bidyasing Lekhte’s body was handed over to his family on Thursday.

“It has been very difficult to travel to Meghalaya. We are asked to change our vehicles and hope on a vehicle with Meghalaya registration to avoid any untoward incident,” said Rishav Agarwala, a tourist from Delhi.

Assam police have already set up a check post at the Jorabat area, on the outskirts of the city. Passengers traveling in vehicles with Assam registration were asked to get down at Jorabat and get on Meghalaya vehicles if wanting to travel to the neighbouring state.

Meghalaya police have been also providing escorts to vehicles and tourists who were exiting Meghalaya in Assam registration vehicles as many cab drivers from Assam have complained of harassment and even stone pelting by Meghalaya locals.

As per sources, several tourists were stuck in Meghalaya and not allowed to travel in vehicles bearing Assam registration. In addition, black flags are waved in front of hotels in Shillong where Assamese tourists were staying.
Many tourists even complained of a surcharge being slapped by Meghalaya-based taxi drivers to bring them back to Assam border points. Passengers complained about the exorbitant prices being charged by the local drivers. “The trip which usually costs a maximum of Rs 500 is being charged at Rs 2000,” said an aggrieved passenger.

On Wednesday, the Assam Tourist Travelers Association stated that drivers from the state are being assaulted in Meghalaya and condemned the incident where four vehicles belonging to the state were set on fire. Association claimed that drivers are facing injustice in neighbouring state. The association further claimed that at least 10 vehicles were attacked and the miscreants broke the windows of the vehicles. The association requested the Assam government to take immediate action to bring back the people from the state safely.

In Meghalaya, at least five social organisations on Thursday announced a two-day peaceful agitation, demanding stern action against those responsible for the incident at Mukroh village.

Earlier on Wednesday, a case has been registered against two persons in connection to the firing incident. The Jirikinding Police under West Karbi Anglong lodged a case against Mukroh village headman and a member of Jaintia Hills District Council. They alleged that the headman used microphones to encourage Mukroh residents to attack police and forest personnel. Reportedly, the village headman was currently on the run.

Harassment of non-tribal people in Meghalaya was also witnessed last month during a rally against unemployment. Videos of the rally that went viral displayed that locals who participated in the protest march thrashed several non-locals and non-tribal people for no reason.

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