Guwahati: Assam government decided to prepare a new standard operating procedure (SOP) for using lethal weapons while controlling any violence in sensitive inter-state bordering areas.
The decision was taken on Wednesday during a cabinet meeting of Assam ministers held in New Delhi. This was the first time that the state cabinet had sat for a meeting outside the state. However, the meeting was believed to be called on an urgent basis following the violence along the Assam-Meghalaya border.
At least six people including a forest guard from Assam were killed in the firing incident that took place at Mukroh village bordering Meghalaya’s West Jaintia Hills and Assam’s West Karbi Anglong districts.
Assam’s senior cabinet minister Jayanta Malla Baruah said, “The state cabinet has given its nod to the decision that both home and forest departments will prepare an SOP especially recommending manuals for using lethal weapons in sensitive areas in the inter-state borders. The SOP will decide what weapons or measures need to be used while controlling violence or mob-like situation in the future so that such incidents don’t get repeated.”
Earlier, reacting to the incident, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that state police and forest officials should have shown restraint while dealing with the situation on Tuesday. “Death of so many people in police firing is not acceptable. They must have restrained from shooting,” he said.
In the fallout of the incident, hours after the firing took place, the Assam government transferred the superintendent of police (SP) of West Karbi Anglong district.
“In addition to this, the state government has also taken steps including transferring Imdad Ali, SP, West Karbi Anglong, and suspending Kajal Nath, Officer-in-Charge, Jirikinding police station, and Shikari Engi, Forest Protection Officer, Kheroni Forest Range,” said an official statement.
Assam government has also announced to provide Rs 5 lakh each to the next of kin of the six deceased persons, who died in the firing incident. However, Opposition parties criticised the state government for announcing the ex-gratia to the villagers of Meghalaya who died in the incident.
“How come the state government announces compensation for those who killed one of our forest guards? This is ridiculous,” said Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) chief Bhupen Borah.
In the cabinet meeting, the state government has also decided to request retired Justice Rumi Phukan to conduct a judicial inquiry into the incident and submit a report within 60 days recommending measures and steps for the state government.
“Since the incident involved people and authorities of two states involved, the Assam government has also requested the CBI to investigate the matter,” said Baruah.
Meanwhile, reports of isolated incidents of harassment and violence towards people from Assam in Meghalaya were also received. While an SUV was torched down by miscreants, a few Assam government vehicles were also damaged.
Many taxi drivers operating between the two states have complained of harassment by locals in Meghalaya too.