4,000 non-tribals flee Meghalaya town post-violence

Mob violence following rumours about the rape of a mentally challenged tribal girl in Tura on Friday has triggered a mass exodus of non-tribals from the West Garo Hills district in Meghalaya.

While three of the accused were rescued by the police after they were severely assaulted, one was found dead due to critical injuries. However, medical tests dismissed rape and said that the girl was molested.

In the last two days, thousands of non-tribals, mostly from adjoining Dhubri and Goalpara districts in Assam, have left the place. West Garo Hills SP M K Singh said most of them who have fled were working in coal mines and construction projects, and as domestic helps. "Since Friday evening between 3,000 to 4,000 have people have left," the SP said.

Curfew has been imposed in the district to quell violence. The police resorted to firing in several places on Friday evening. Curfew was relaxed from 9 am to 5 pm in Tura on Sunday as no untoward incidents were reported on Saturday, the SP said.

West Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner Pravin Bakshi had convened a peace meet on Saturday. It was attended by the representatives of the Mothers' Union, youth groups, church leaders and the local MLA.

The meeting condemned the incidents of molestation and mob violence. It appealed to the society to ensure peace and harmony in the district.

A series of rape cases have been reported from Meghalaya in the last few months. On December 13, 2012, a high school girl was gangraped in Williamnagar.

In this case, it turned out that 14 of 17 the accused were juveniles. Two weeks ago, Nurul Islam, a police SI, was arrested on charges of raping two girls who had managed to escape from the custody. It had led to massive public outcry in Tura.

In Shillong, the police on Friday arrested Md Shahid Ahmed (27) following allegations that Ahmed had attempted to rape two minor girls on June 21. He was arrested after the girls' mother lodged an FIR with the police. The girls whom he tried to rape are eight and nine years old.