Jowai/SHILLONG: A Deputy Superintendent of Police was injured when the team he was leading was fired upon by Assam Police personnel mistaking them for militants in a remote village in West Jaintia Hills district on Saturday.
The incident took place in Moolaber, a bordering village between West Jaintia Hills district and Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, when both the police teams were raiding the area to flush out cadres of a particular Karbi militant group hiding there.
Meghalaya Police official Polster Syiem received a bullet injury in hand and chest. He has been shifted to the North East Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) after initial treatment at Jowai Civil Hospital.
According to police, Syiem along with around 20 others went to the disputed area under Block I on Saturday as part of the ‘Long Range Patrolling’ after receiving several complaints about a particular Karbi militant outfit serving demand notes to the farmers of that area.
Assam policemen who had reached the area ahead of their Meghalaya counterpart, opened fire mistaking the latter for militants, a senior police official said.
“We just arrived at Moolber and started walking on foot, suddenly fire shots started coming from the opposite side and we took our position and retaliated,” another police personnel who was present in the scene said.
“When we shouted we are from ‘Meghalaya Police’ then they stopped firing,” he added.
Both Assam and Meghalaya police approached the village after reports that Karbi militants had taken shelter there and were collecting tax from the people of Moolber in Block I, the State DGP Peter J Hanaman said.
Block I is one of the areas in dispute between Assam and Meghalaya and police presence was less in the area.
“Assam police sent a party yesterday. Even today they sent one party at 8 or 9 AM when our team reached there at around 11 AM. When they entered into the forest where the militants are supposed to be hiding, the Assam police thought them to be militants and opened fire. This was primarily because they were in non-khaki uniform,” the DGP said.
Acting Deputy Commissioner of West Jaintia Hills DM Wahlang said that though initial reports had said militants attacked the Meghalaya police team, it was later confirmed firing was from Assam Police.
Prior information about the operations by Meghalaya police in the border was given to its Assam counterpart.
During the operations, Meghalaya police personnel were wearing camouflage, he said
Condemnation: Meanwhile, the JSU and the Karbi Students’ Association have condemned Saturday incident. The JSU also demanded setting up of a Police Outpost at Psiar village in order to provide security to the Pnar community residing in Block I areas. (With inputs from our correspondent, reporter and PTI)