Migrant workers leave tense Garo Hills in Meghalaya

Shillong, June 26 (IANS) Tension prevailed in Garo Hills in western Meghalaya amid mass exodus of migrant workers following Sunday’s killings of eight migrant coal miners by unidentified assailants, an official said here Wednesday.

“The situation is still tense but under control in Garo Hills. We are keeping a close watch on the prevailing situation,” Commissioner of Divisions and in-charge of Garo Hills Peter W. Ingty told IANS.

The government has rushed in six companies of central paramilitary forces – four companies of Border Security Force and two companies of Central Reserve Paramilitary Force – to maintain law and order in Garo Hills region.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said the exodus of migrant workers was based on an advisory issued by the government to ensure of their safety.

At least 16,000 migrant workers have left Garo Hills since Saturday following mob violence in Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills, and after the gruesome murder of eight mingrant coal miners in South Garo Hills, an official said.

“The district administration has issued an advisory to ensure that such migrant workers, who have been engaged by employers in vulnerable areas, are not allowed to be subjected to any activity by vested interests who can indulge in crime,” Sangma told journalists.

Prohibitory orders have been clamped under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), banning gathering of four or more people at one place in South and East Garo Hills. In West Garo Hills, the night curfew has been in place since Friday night.

Meanwhile, an official said that there is a panic among migrant workers, mainly from Assam, who fear fresh attacks on non-indigenous workers.

“Many more are leaving today (Wednesday) following the killings of the eight migrant coal miners from Assam,” Pravin Bakshi, district magistrate of West Garo Hills, said.

“Adequate security has been put in place to maintain law and order,” Bakshi added.

On Sunday night, eight migrant coal miners were killed and three others wounded at Garegittim and Nongalbibra areas in Meghalaya’s South Garo Hills district by a group of unidentified assailants.

The gruesome attack on the coal miners came after a mob turned violent while protesting an alleged bid to molest a mentally-challenged girl Friday night at Tura, the district headquarters of West Garo Hills.

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