Shillong, Feb 25: In an unprecedented move, unidentified miscreants burnt down more than 87 shops, damaged private properties, and several motor cycles Saturday afternoon at Rajabagan village in Ri-Bhoi district bordering Assam.
The incident took place at around 1 pm when the miscreants rushed to the village market, pelted stones at villagers and hurled petrol bombs damaging about 87 shops and 15 houses, police sources informed.
Police said, the miscreants also burnt down at least five motor cycles on their way back.
Giving a detailed account of the incident, police sources apprised, â€œA group of miscreants armed with weapons suddenly stormed into a small village in Byrnihat in the afternoon and unleashed terror with blank firing. The local residents started fleeing from their houses. Then the miscreants set on fire their houses and shopsâ€.
The incident prompted the District Commissioner Akash Deep and top district police officials to rush to the area to take control of the situation.
Police said about 20 youths involved in the burning of shops were arrested by evening and will be charged as per law.
Rajabagan village Chief Mahiram Timung told reporters he was proceeding towards Byrnihat village to attend the peace meeting convened by the district police at Byrnihat when he was informed of the incident.
Timung quoted villagers as seeing the youths coming in about 10 cars to unleash their unruly behavior at Lower Bullia local market.
Meanwhile, Executive Magistrate of Kamrup metro and district police official A J Baruah from Assam rushed to the spot to take adequate measures as to prevent any backlash to the villages in Assam side inhabited by communities originally belonging to Meghalaya.
The District administrator informed that a relief camp was set up in the village with basic amenities and food was provided to the affected families.
District administration is also working to restore a sense of security and confidence among the residence of the area even as necessary precautionary measures will be adopted to prevent clash backlash, Deep said.
He said, the district is constituting a peace building committee immediately as it is the only means to bring peace.
Mentionably, Saturdayâ€™s incident came days after villagers from Rajabagan, about 80 km north of Shillong attacked members of Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF).
Sources claimed that trouble arose after members of some NGOs started collection of money from Garo households at Rajabagan village. The villagers protested against the forcible collection of money and a clash took place following which an irate mob set ablaze properties and vehicles.
â€œThe situation might have flared up due to some misunderstanding between two individuals who had a tussle sometime back and this incident might be a likely outcome of that misunderstanding. But nothing can be said for certain now,â€ Deep added.
He said a detailed investigation will be carried out before reaching the conclusion.