Assam Police used ‘unprovoked, uncontrolled’ force — Himanta on border violence
New Delhi, Nov. 23 (PTI): Criticising the Assam Police over handling of the violence along the Assam-Meghalaya border that led to killing of six people, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said it used force in an “unprovoked, uncontrolled and arbitrary” manner.
Sarma, who also holds the Home portfolio, also said the interstate border is peaceful, and the recent clashes had erupted between locals and forest guards.
“I feel there was no need to fire to the extent the police did. The firing was a little unprovoked, and the police could have acted in a little more controlled manner,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function in the national capital.
According to the police, force was used for defensive reasons during the clash, the CM said.
“… However, in my view, it (force) was used a little arbitrarily. That should not have happened,” he said.
Six people, including a forest guard, were killed in violence at a disputed location in West Karbi Anglong district along the Assam-Meghalaya border in the early hours of Tuesday, after a truck allegedly laden with illegally felled timber was intercepted by forest personnel.
Sarma said the Assam government is trying to do its bit “very sincerely”, and has already transferred the SP of West Karbi Anglong district, while some other officials have been suspended.
The Assam government has ordered a judicial probe and urged the Centre to conduct a CBI or NIA investigation, he said.
“We have not taken this as a prestige battle. If personnel of Assam Police were at fault, then they will also come under the ambit of investigation,” the chief minister said.
Sarma also asserted that the incident was not at all related to the long-standing border dispute between the two northeastern states.
“I am in touch with the Meghalaya CM… The Assam-Meghalaya border is peaceful and it has always been peaceful,” he said.
Referring to a few statements, especially by opposition leaders, Sarma claimed that neither did anyone encroach on Assam’s land nor was there an attempt to clear encroachment.
“I don’t know why the border issue has been brought in here. The police and locals had an altercation, resulting in firing,” he said.
Assam and Meghalaya have a long-standing dispute in 12 areas along the 884.9-km-long inter-state border, and the location where the violence took place is one of those.
The two states had signed a memorandum of understanding in March this year towards ending the dispute in six of the areas.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972 and had since then challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, which demarcated the border between the two states.