The Assam forest department team intercepted and stopped the truck at Mukru area carrying the illegal timber towards West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya around 3 am, West Karbi Anglong superintendent of police Imdad Ali told PTI. Following the incident, the Assam police sounded an alert in all the districts bordering Meghalaya to thwart any possible law and order situation, an official said.
The forest guards fired at the truck when it tried to flee and deflated a tyre. The truck’s driver, handyman and another person were then apprehended, though others managed to escape, he said.
Police reinforcements were rushed to the spot when the forest guards contacted Zirikending police station.
However, a large number of people from Meghalaya armed with ‘dao’ (dagger) and other weapons gathered at the spot seeking release of those arrested.
The mob surrounded the forest guards and the police personnel demanding immediate release of those arrested and attacked them which prompted the police to resort to firing to bring the situation under control, Ali said.
“A forest home guard and three persons of the Khasi community of Meghalaya were killed in the incident,” the SP said.
“The situation is under control now,” he said adding that top officers of the district are rushing to the remote area.
It is not clear if the casualties, including the forest guard Bidyasing Lekhte, died of bullet injuries or were hit by any other weapon.
Internet services have been suspended in Meghalaya for 48 hours and a police official said that an alert has been sounded in all districts bordering Meghalaya.
“All superintendents of police of districts along Meghalaya have been told to keep a strict watch on any possible law and order situation. But there is no restriction on movement of vehicles or people along the inter-state border,” he told PTI.
Vehicles from Assam are not allowed to enter Meghalaya and the latter has also cancelled all festivals. Tourists are also stranded.
The two north-east states have a longstanding dispute in 12 areas of the 884.9 km long inter-state border. In March, Assam and Meghalaya had signed a memorandum of understanding for ending the dispute in six of them. They have also initiated talks to resolve the disputes in the remaining six areas.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972 and had challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, which led to the dispute.
(with PTI inputs)