Panic gripped villagers in Assam after incursions and attacks by tribals from Arunchal Pradesh, backed by militants of the Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM), during the past one week.
A police spokesperson said heavily armed NSCN-IM militants accompanied by locals from Arunachal Pradesh have been continuously raiding Saraipung village in eastern Sivasagar district, about 400 km from Assam's main city of Guwahati.
“The raids have been going on for the past one week with large group of people from Arunachal Pradesh, backed by NSCN-IM militants, crossing the unfenced border and launching attacks on Assamese villagers. Several homes were set ablaze, besides the attackers assaulting locals on the Assam side,” a senior police official said.
Trouble began on Aug 16 when about 200 locals from Arunachal Pradesh descended on Saraipung and went on a rampage dismantling homes and setting ablaze a tea garden factory, besides attacking residents.
“The entire game plan is to terrorise the villagers and encroach on Assam land to set up permanent structures by people from Arunachal Pradesh. By helping the locals, the NSCN-IM is desperately trying to set up some foothold in the area for safe base inside Arunachal Pradesh,” the official said.
On Friday, NSCN-IM militants ambushed the convoy of the Sivasagar district police chief Akhilesh Singh in which two of his security men were injured.
“We are feeling really threatened by the repeated incursions and would like the Assam government to send security reinforcements to instil a sense of confidence,” said Tarini Barman, a community elder.
Border disputes are nothing new in the northeast with fights for territorial supremacy often leading to violent clashes.