Home they brought the miners dead

Cars clog a petrol pump in Tura on Tuesday. There was a mad rush for fuel as tension continued to prevail in Tura and no fresh supplies arrived from outside.

June 27
: The bodies of eight migrant workers who were murdered by a gang of armed men on Sunday night in Nangalbibra coal belt of Garo hills in Meghalaya were handed over to Assam today while the inter-state border areas remained on high alert.

The bodies of the victims, six from Goalpara district and two from Dhubri district, were brought from Williamnagar in East Garo Hills after autopsy.
The deputy commissioner of South Garo Hills, Chinmoy P. Gothmare, along with magistrates and police officials from Meghalaya, accompanied the bodies to Damra police outpost in Assam. Goalpara deputy commissioner, who received the bodies, handed them over to the bereaved families. “We handed the bodies and the ex gratia amount to the Assam officials who were present at Damra. The families of the victims were there to receive the bodies,” Gothmare told The Telegraph.
A sum of Rs 4 lakh — Rs 3 lakh ex gratia from the Meghalaya government and Rs 1 lakh from the coalmine operator — was handed over to the families of each victim.
Assam has announced an ex gratia of Rs 2 lakh, said press adviser to chief minister Tarun Gogoi, Bharat Chandra Narah. Gogoi also spoke to his Meghalaya counterpart Mukul Sangma, Narah added.
Family members said the Meghalaya government’s “negligence” had led to the violence. “My son has been working in the mine since the past four years. He had left for Nangol 17 days back. Whenever he returned home, he used to say he would look for another job, as the situation in Meghalaya was not conducive because militants frequently attacked labourers from Assam. But the Meghalaya government never took notice,” said Anif Ali, father of Madan, after receiving his son’s body. The family are from 2nd Ghat near Khormuja, about 20km from Goalpara.
After the incident, a large number of labourers and businessmen from Assam have left Nangal, Jadi, Pather Getam, Ranjeng and Dubu in Meghalaya and returned home.
A businessman from Dudhnoi in Goalpara district, who has a shop at Dubu, said the Meghalaya government had failed to control the situation and, instead, advised those from Assam to leave. “After the incident policemen came and told me that they could not protect us and advised me to shut down the shop and leave Meghalaya. I returned to save my life,” the businessman, who did not wish to be identified, said.
Mofidul Islam, who escaped the attacks, said there were 18 labourers in the camp, eight of whom were killed.
On the exodus of labourers, Gothmare said, “We have instructed coalmine owners to escort their labourers to the nearest police station in South Garo Hills so that the administration can ensure their safe return to Assam.”
A magisterial inquiry headed by an additional district magistrate has been ordered to probe into the Sunday massacre. A high alert has been sounded throughout the inter-state border between Assam and Meghalaya’s Garo hills, following the handing over of the bodies. Section 144 CrPC has been put in place in Williamnagar and other towns of East Garo Hills and in Nangalbibra and Baghmara in South Garo Hills.
The Bajengdoba-Tikrikilla-Mendipather area shares a long porous border with the neighbouring state.
“We have put in place our forces, including paramilitary personnel, in different locations,” Meghalaya inspector-general of police H. Nongpluh, who is overseeing the security in Garo hills, said.
Peace meetings were held today at Williamnagar and Resubelpara in North Garo Hills, while in violence-hit Nangalbibra, several hundred people took out a procession to denounce the violence.
In another incident, a girl was raped and killed at Lemakona under Lakhipur police station, 25km from Goalpara town, yesterday.
Lakhipur police station officer-in-charge Mokib Ali said the girl had gone to a nearby rubber garden around 6.30pm and was missing since. After sometime, family members launched a search and recovered her body after which they informed the police. A case has been registered. Officials from both Meghalaya and Assam ruled out any connection of the incident with the situation in Garo hills.

Tura Lok Sabha MP Agatha K. Sangma today sought the intervention of Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde into the Garo hills situation. “There could be backlash to these events especially in border areas of the state bordering Assam,” Agatha apprehended in the letter to Shinde.
She, however, stressed that the administration in Garo hills and Assam should ensure that the supply of essential commodities remain unaffected. The MP will camp in Garo hills from tomorrow to take stock of the situation.