Centre takes stock of Lampi situation

R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, May 24 – Concerned over the situation in Lampi in Assam-Meghalaya border after the recent flare up, the Government of India reviewed the situation and a senior officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also visited Lampi area to hold talks with people belonging to both Khasi and Nepali communities.

The Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram, who is scheduled to visit Assam shortly, in also likely to discuss the issue and to decide on steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future.

Deputy Secretary of the MHA, Ajoy Kanojia, who was sent to Assam and Meghalaya on a fact finding mission, told The Assam Tribune that during his visit, he spoke to the senior officials of the Home Departments of both Assam and Meghalaya to assess the situation. He visited Lampi area yesterday along with the Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police of both Kamrup and West Khasi Hills district to take stock of the situation on the ground.

Kanojia said that the purpose of his visit is only to find facts and to appeal to the people to maintain peace. He expressed the view that the Governments of Assam and Meghalaya would have to settle the boundary disputes and the common people should not be affected by the disputes. The area where the incident took place is within the constitutional boundary of Assam and if there is any dispute, it should be settled by the Governments of both states, he added.

The MHA official said that he had spoken to the people belonging to both Khasi and Nepali communities living in Lampi area and appealed to them to maintain peace. “I also requested them to constitute peace committees comprising members of both the communities to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future,” he added. He said that people from both the communities submitted memorandum to him on their demands. The Khasi people demanded setting up of a border outpost of Meghalaya police for their security, while, the Nepali people also ventilated their grievances.

However, at the same time, Kanojia admitted that it was not possible for him to make a comprehensive assessment of the problem within hours and only said that the clashes and the police firing were unfortunate and the possibility of some provocation cannot be ruled out. He also pointed out that as the Government has already ordered a magisterial probe into the incident of police firing, both the communities should now maintain peace.

Meanwhile, official sources said here that the situation in Lampi area is now fully under control and senior officers are visiting the area every day to take stock of the situation. Police presence in the area has been increased and two new police posts have been set up in the area to maintain law and order. Official sources also said that “some provocations” led to the unfortunate incident as there were reports that people were encouraged not to participate in the census operations of Assam days before the incident took place.