| File picture of a relief camp |
Shillong, Feb. 20: The Union home affairs ministry has convened a high-level meeting on Tuesday in Guwahati to discuss the relief and rehabilitation measures undertaken by Meghalaya and Assam for the victims of last month’s ethnic clashes.
Official sources today said Shambu Singh, joint secretary of the Union home affairs ministry in-charge of Northeast, will attend the meeting at the Assam secretariat.
Top officials from both states, including the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police from East Garo Hills and Goalpara districts, have been asked to attend the meeting.
The sources also said apart from discussing relief and rehabilitation measures, the meeting was likely to review the deployment of central paramilitary forces in the two districts.
“As the central paramilitary forces cannot be deployed in the districts for long, the home ministry will want to know what would be the alternative plans in case the forces are withdrawn,” a source said.
The paramilitary forces were deployed in East Garo Hills and Goalpara districts few days after the ethnic clash between the Garos and Rabhas broke out in the first week of January.
The visible presence of paramilitary forces in Garo hills, as of now, has thinned after about four companies of the BSF were withdrawn. “While two companies of BSF are still camping in East Garo Hills, another two are stationed in the West Garo Hills,” the source said.
Last week in Guwahati, the chief secretaries and high-ranking officials of the two states had discussed the refugees’ demand to not remove the central paramilitary forces.
The meeting mooted the idea of deploying mixed composition of police personnel in the affected areas in case the paramilitary forces had to be withdrawn for other purposes. The idea was also likely to be discussed during the meeting with Singh.
In the meeting with Singh, the district administrations of East Garo Hills and Goalpara will report on the problems faced by them in rehabilitating the victims of the clash. The meeting is also likely to discuss the idea of distributing free ration under the public distribution system to the affected families.
East Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi, along with other officials, will visit Goalpara tomorrow to meet the Rabhas in the relief camps.