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Meghalaya rejects reports of violence against Nepalese

Shillong, May 26 (Calcutta Tube) The Meghalaya government Wednesday joined the Gorkha Welfare Centre and the Khasi Students Union in rejecting Nepalese media reports of alleged communal violence against the Nepali community in the state.

Kathmandu-based media reports earlier claimed that at least 17 Nepali people lost their lives and thousands were forced to flee following attacks by miscreants in Meghalaya.

Four people were killed and several injured in firing by Assam police personnel at Langpih village on May 14, after a clash between tribal Khasis with Nepali nationals at a weekly market.

Langpih village, about 60 km from Guwahati in Assam and 140 km from Shillong, has been a bone of contention between Assam and Meghalaya. The area has often hit the headlines since the Assam government laid the cornerstone for a health centre there in July 2008.

The Meghalaya government, however, termed the media reports, which claimed that at least 17 Nepali people were killed, as untrue and sensationalist.

‘I have heard only one person (Nepali speaking) was killed, which has already been reported in the local media,’ Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told IANS, dismissing reports of 17 deaths.

‘When nobody came forward to complain, how do I know who has left Shillong?’ Sangma said, while reacting to a question on the ‘quit notices’ allegedly issued to Nepali settlers in Khasi-Jaintia dominated areas in the eastern part of Meghalaya by several NGOs.

Terming these media reports as ‘sensationalist’, Meghalaya Director General of Police S.B. Kakati admitted that a 70-year-old man was burnt alive and said that there were no records to show 17 Nepalese were killed.

‘I am not surprised that some people are sensationalising and trying to take mileage from it,’ the DGP said.

The powerful Khasi Students Union (KSU), which spearheaded a 12-hour shutdown last week in protest against the Assam police firing at Langpih, also criticized the reports.

Upset with the fabricated news reports, KSU president Samuel B. Jyrwa said the social organisations in Meghalaya were only against the killing of the unarmed Khasi villagers by Assam police personnel.

‘Our demand from the government (Meghalaya) was to seek a solution to the vexed boundary dispute between Meghalaya and Assam,’ Jyrwa said.

On the ‘quit notices’ served by various NGOs to Nepali settlers, the KSU supremo said: ‘There is illegality in it as they are foreigners. In fact, the North East Students’ Organisation (an apex student’s body of various students’ unions) had demanded that the Indo-Nepal Treaty of Friendship should not be applicable in the entire Northeastern states.’

‘The Indo-Nepal Treaty of Friendship, 1950 has opened the floodgates for lakhs of Nepali nationals who have entered the region and managed to obtain permanent citizenship through unfair means.

Tribal Khasi and Garo villagers alleged that the Assam government had been trying to usurp the land in Langpih area by pushing Nepalese nationals to settle in the disputed area.

‘Following the (Langpih) incident, yes there is a fear psychosis among the Nepali settlers, but till then we stayed safely and the government ensured security,’ D.B. Gurung, a senior leader of the Meghalaya Gorkha Welfare Association, said.

‘There was only a case of a 70-year-old man being burnt alive and those reports of 17 (Nepalis) killed is complete rubbish,’ Gurung told IANS.

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