Six persons, including a forest guard, were killed in violence at the Assam-Meghalaya border in West Karbi Anglong district in the early hours of Tuesday. The violence was reported after a truck transporting illegal timber was intercepted, officials said.
Following the incident, the Assam police sounded an alert in all the districts bordering Meghalaya to thwart any possible law and order situation, another official said.
The Assam forest department team intercepted and stopped the truck at the Mukru area carrying the illegal timber towards the West Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya around 3 am, West Karbi Anglong superintendent of police Imdad Ali said.
As the truck tried to flee, the forest guards fired at it and deflated a tyre.
The vehicle's driver, the 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 the Zirikending police station.
After the police reached the spot, a large number of people from Meghalaya armed with 'daos' (dagger) and other weapons gathered at the spot around 5 am, the officer said.
The mob gheraoed the forest guards and the police personnel demanding the 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, however, not clear whether the casualties, including the forest guard named Bidyasing Lekhte, died of bullet injuries or were hit by any other weapon.
Meanwhile, a police official said that an alert has been sounded in all districts bordering Meghalaya and their police as been asked to remain vigilant.
“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 added.
Meanwhile, the Meghalaya government has suspended mobile internet services in seven districts for 48 hours from November 22 onwards.
Assam and Meghalaya have a longstanding dispute in 12 areas of the 884.9 km long inter-state border. The two northeastern states had signed a memorandum of understanding in March in the presence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah in New Delhi for ending the dispute in six of them.
The two states have also initiated discussions for resolving the disputes in the remaining six areas.
Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972 and challenged the Assam Reorganisation Act, 1971, which led to the dispute.
(With inputs from agencies)