Masked men attack Jesuit Mission in Meghalaya, 1 migrant worker killed

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Students of Loyola College in the Williamnagar area of Meghalaya singing at a programme. (Photo: loyolacollegewn.edu.in)

A group of masked men attacked some migrant workers sleeping in the classrooms of a college in India’s north-eastern state of Meghalaya. One of the migrant workers was killed and 8 others suffered serious injuries in the bloody attack.

According to police, a group of masked goons attacked the migrant workers at Umoid village in Meghalaya’s South West Khasi Hills district on February 24 late night.

The migrant workers were hired for the construction work for St. Xavier’s Girls hostel of Loyola College run by the Jesuit Mission. The college had obtained work licenses mandated by the Meghalaya government and every procedure was followed.

After the attack, local people are guarding the Jesuit Mission House in Meghalaya. Police arrested five people linked with the attack

“We are still not sure why such a bloody attack was unleashed on the migrant workers,” said Father Paul Coelho, the college principal.

Workers from Assam

Father Coelho said eight workers from neighbouring Assam state came with necessary permits to work in the mission on February 19. They were engaged in constructing the administrative block and hostel building for girls.

On Feb 24 night, 20-25 masked men forced their entry into the classrooms and attacked the sleeping workers with wooden rods and sharp weapons, injuring them all.

One succumbed to his injuries on way to hospital and others are recuperating in hospital.

Father Coelho said the mission has “no enemies” and “local people are very happy with our work. We are at a loss to explain how such a deadly attack took place on our school campus,” he said.

“The local people rallied behind us and have agreed to maintain a vigil to protect our institution. No police personnel have been deputed to guard the institution,” the priest said.

On Feb. 28, local people held a peace rally and expressed their support for the Jesuit mission.

Ethnic violence in Meghalaya

Tribal-dominated Meghalaya frequently witnesses ethnic violence as local people resist people from Assam coming to their state, which they say disturbs their demographics.

Ethnic violence last March claimed at least three lives after a Khasi tribal man was killed in a clash with members of the powerful Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) in a border village.

GK Iangrai, assistant inspector general of police, told local media that two of the arrested are KSU members, but police said they could not establish the motive behind the violence.

Archbishop Victor Lyngdoh of Shillong based in the state capital told UCA News that the “government and local administration handled the situation very well … to ensure peace in the area.”

He said the violence seems to be stemming from local people’s fear of losing their employment opportunities. Meghalaya is a Christian-dominated state in which some 75 percent of its 2.6 million people Christians.

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