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Archbishop helps resolve ethnic conflict

Violence has been rumbling since January when houses were burned down

A representative speaking at the Peace meeting A representative speaking at the Peace meeting
  • ucanews.com reporter, Guwahati
  • India
  • February 24, 2011
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Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati has initiated efforts to try and resolve ethnic tribal tension along the border of Assam and Meghalaya states in eastern India.

At a recent meeting called by the archbishop, members of the Rabha and Garo communities expressed their readiness to help people sheltering in relief camps return to their homes.

Thousands were left homeless after about 1,500 houses in 90 villages along the Assam-Meghalaya border were torched in clashes in early January.

The violence erupted when several ethnic Rabha youths attacked a Garo tribal wedding party and a Garo pastor on New Year’s Day.

“We have to work out a formula together for peace. The delay in returning people to their villages could see the outbreak of epidemics due to a rise in seasonal temperatures,” the archbishop said at the meeting

“According to media reports, there are still 6,000 Rabha tribes people on the Assam border after they fled from the neighboring East Garo Hills in Meghalaya.

“The meeting in Tura diocese, headed by Bishop Andrew Marak, also allowed the two sides to air their grievances

The Garos admitted that they were angry over repeated Rabha general strikes over the past few years which affect them.

The Rabhas said the strikes stem from their struggle to gain more autonomy from the state government. They said they should have the same autonomy as other tribes in the region.

Elsewhere in Assam, Diphu diocese has called for calm following the murder of an 18-year-old Christian boy in the town of Manji.

James Tangaranjao Khovung was reportedly shot dead on February 19 in a dispute between two separatist groups.

His parents however denied he was involved in any separatist movement.

“We call for solidarity against violence and appeal to all people to unite against intolerance,” the diocese said in a statement on February 22.

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