Minor tiff led to ethnic clashes: Report

Shillong, Jan 17 (PTI) The recent ethnic clashes along theAssam-Meghalaya border began from a small tiff between twogroups of drunken youths belonging to Rabha and Garocommunities who were celebrating New Year on January one atManikganj in Meghalaya�s East Garo Hills district, an officialreport said.

A verbal confrontation took place between the groups afterwhich the Rabha group allegedly assaulted two boys of the Garocommunity. This acted as a catalyst and inflamed passions oncommunal lines, a status report on the violence prepared bythe East Garo Hills administration said.

Giving an account of the incidents as they unfolded eachday till January 9, the report pointed at rumours aboutincidents on the Assam side which led to unrest on theMeghalaya side.

''''The demand for Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council has fewtakers in the Garo community settled in Goalpara in Assam andas such there are tensions between the two communities andfrequent outbreaks of violence,'''' the report said.

''''Further, the economic blockades and bandhs called byRabha bodies are often violent making it difficult for theGaros there and in Meghalaya. During these bandhs, people inMeghalaya cannot move on the NH 37 � which passes throughGoalpara - if they have to travel to Guwahati or Shillong,''''it said.

The report also pointed at several instances of armedclashes during the course of the nine-day violence, besidesrumours of involvement of militants.

The East Garo Hills administration has decided not to liftnight curfew till confidence-building measures are in placeand absolute peace prevails.

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