A minor land dispute between an Assamese tribal and a Naga simmering for the last four months and militant groups taking sides in it seems to have led to full-blown confrontation at the border of Assam and Nagaland claiming 11 lives so far, say Union home ministry (MHA) officials.
According to a MHA report on the dispute, in Chetaigaon village that lies in the disputed area belt (DAB) touching Golaghat district at the Assam-Nagaland border, a piece of land belonging to a Naga was given to an Assamese tribal for cultivation. In April this year, the Assamese tribal complained that the Naga owner has erected an illegal hut on the land. The administration first decided that the hut would be dismantled and the Assamese tribal would not cultivate the land but two months later, the tribal started cultivating the land. To sort the matter, the district administration later allowed erection of hut in the land with cultivation rights to the Assamese tribal.
3 more killed in Assam, Nagaland border flare-up; Gogoi blames Centre
But in the meanwhile two tribal boys went missing from the village. In retaliation, on August 2, tribals with the help of cadres from militant outfit Adivasi National Liberation Army chased away the Naga land owner from the village. Afterwards, the Nagas took help from another militant group NSCN (Khaplang-Kitovi) faction who allegedly abducted three tribal boys from Chandalashung area, say MHA officials.
Later Naga miscreants fired on tribals on August 12 and houses were set ablaze. So far 11 people have died in the ensuing violence.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has put the onus on the centre.
"In the DAB, a central force has been deployed as neutral force. It is Centre's duty to handle the situation in the border disputed areas", said Gogoi.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who was briefed by ministry officials on Wednesday, spoke to Gogoi and Nagaland chief minister TR Zelian. The Prime Minister's Office also sought report from the home ministry on the issue. Union minister of state for home, Kiren Rijiju is going to Guwahati on Thursday and would sit with Gogoi and Zelian to sort out the problem.