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Protest against violence

Tura, July 23: Assam’s Hatsingimari sub-division in Dhubri district today erupted in anger against rising incidents of kidnapping, killing and insurgency in the Garo hills.

The protesters have vowed to move Dispur and New Delhi if the Meghalaya government fails to look into the matter. The protests took an ugly turn when the activists were prevented from submitting a memorandum at Hatsingimari subdivision. There was a scuffle between the protesters and security forces. No one was injured in the incident.

The protesters shouted anti-Meghalaya government slogans seeking protection for people working in Garo hills. Some of the placards read: “Down with militancy, Mukul Sangma murdabad,” and “Garo hills militancy murdabad”.

A huge rally held today at Mankachar, Hatsingimari and SouthSalmara in Dhubri district reiterated the demand for President’s rule in Meghalaya. The rally also condemned the brutal murder of Sahed Miah, who was found dead on Monday evening on the outskirt ofTura town.

“We are protesting the killing of innocent traders and the abductions in Garo hills. There have been more than five reported kidnappings of traders from Mankachar itself in the last month, along with demand notes. Three of them have now been killed. The situation cannot carry on forever and the Meghalaya government has to do something about the security situation,” said Pachan Ali Mondal, an SUCI activist.

He added, “We are demanding an end to militancy in the Garo hills so thattrade can be done without fear. While we are still hoping for some action to be taken, in the event of failure of the Meghalaya government to control the situation, we will intensify our protests. We will move Dispur to seek security and petition New Delhi if it is required. The situation has to change.”

In the last two months, 14 people from Mankachar and its neigbouring areas have been abducted in Garo hills. On Monday, the protesters will submit a memorandum to the sub-divisional officer (civil), Hatsingimari sub-division.

Most daily wage earners working in Garo hills are from Assam’s Dhubri and Goalpara districts. In towns like Tura, Williamnagar, Resubelpara, Ampati and Baghmara, a majority of the traders are from Assam. They are engaged in different trades, including running small grocery shops, vegetable, fish and meat outlets, and the like.