Knotty border issues: Assam Tea tribes vs Nagas draw blood

Kohima: Assamese Tea workers versus Nagaland villagers  and armed clashes over territory is snowballing into a small war. Naga villagers say Assam Tea Tribes Liberation Volunteers instigate violent action, while Assam denies any knowledge of the outfit.

 Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said Nagaland had promised to take action against those responsible for the death of Sanjoy Bhumij, a tea worker, who was shot by unidentified persons from the neighbouring state while ploughing his paddy field inside Naginijan tea estate Monday morning.

Gogoi was quoted by a local newspaper as saying, “We have taken up the issue at different levels with the Nagaland government. Their response has been positive. They have conveyed to us that the culprits will be arrested. We have taken the matter seriously and will continue to pursue it till the culprits are booked.”

On Monday evening, he had announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the kin of the victim.

Gogoi also said the firing and the border row with Nagaland were two separate issues. “The border issue is a continuing one though attempts are on to resolve it. It’s very difficult to say when it will be resolved despite the keenness of both sides to arrive at a settlement. As of now, our priority is to contain the situation,” said Gogoi. Tension over state boundary issues surfaced in the area since May 23.

Sources in the chief minister’s office said Gogoi would raise the issue if he meets his Nagaland counterpart Neiphiu Rio  in New Delhi. Rio’s presence will depend on the situation back home.

That Nagaland is taking steps to resolve the crisis was evident from the reactions of its chief secretary A. Jamir and Mokokchung district deputy commissioner Muroho Chotso on Tuesday. Mokokchung borders Assam’s Jorhat district where Naginijan tea estate is located.

Jamir said from Kohima that a case had been registered at Mangkolemba police station near Naginijan and that the Mokokchung superintendent of police had ordered the arrest of the Saringyam village council head, Imti, which would help in locating those involved in Monday’s incident. He appreciated the role played by the Jorhat district administration and Dispur in tackling the situation.

“The situation in several districts of Nagaland is tense. People are agitating and seeking strict measures, claiming that trouble was triggered from Assam side. Reports submitted by the Mokokchung deputy commissioner and superintendent of police say members of Assam Tea Tribes Liberation Volunteers had started firing on farmers of our state. When people from Nagaland retaliated, one person died. As part of the measures to restore normality, we have set up a temporary police station in the affected area,” he said.

The Assam home department, denies  knowledge of any outfit named ATTLV.

Deputy Commissioner Chotso said a police team had left for Saringyam village to conduct an inquiry and arrest the culprits involved in the shootout. He said as a precautionary measure, Section 144 of the CrPC had been promulgated in at least four villages.

Chotso said regular attempts by villagers from Assam to allegedly occupy land across the border led to such incidents.

The village headman Imti claimed that Naginijan tea estate, which belongs to Assam Tea Corporation Limited, is located inside Nagaland territory. He said the garden has been paying Rs 2,494 and five packets of tea every year since ages now for cultivating on the land belonging to the village council.

The manager of Naginijan tea estate, R. Dutta, said the tea estate had indeed been paying money to the village council of Saringyam every year. “We have records since 1915 of paying money to the Naga village council,” he said, adding that the amount had not been paid this year till now as the village council had been demanding a raise.

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Posted by on June 5, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,Nagaland,NORTH EAST. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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