Pre-poll violence in Assam has taken a dangerous trend with a militant outfit in the ethnically volatile North Cachar Hills district hounding out Nagas.
At least 400 Zeliangrongs – collective name of Nagas belonging to the Zeme, Liangmai and Rongmei groups – have fled the NC Hills since mid-March following an ethnic cleansing drive by the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) group. The outfit, officials said, has also killed over 10 Zeliangrong people.
Also known as the Black Widow, the DHD (J) was formed in 2003 as a breakaway faction of the DHD, which had declared a truce that year. It had earlier targeted the Hmar and Karbi tribal groups in order to create a Dimasaland for the Dimasa ethnic community.
The victims of the latest communal frenzy have taken shelter in the adjoining Tamenglong district of Manipur. “It’s a desperate situation out here and we are collecting the latest figures. Most of them need food and clothes as immediate relief,” social worker Haimasuang told HT.
Other than the NC Hills and the adjoining Karbi Anglong district of Assam, the Zeliangrong people are scattered across Nagaland and Manipur.
According to the refugees, armed DHD (J) militants targeted eight villages near Haflong – the headquarters of the NC Hills district – and let loose a reign of terror last month. They were subsequently forced to flee to the safety of Mandeu, Njunkuak, Zenning villages besides Tousem sub-division in Manipur’s Tamenglong district.
The bulk of the displaced Zeliangrong villagers – around 345 – trekked over to Manipur last Saturday. The exodus almost coincided with BJP leader LK Advani’s election rallies in Assam, where he promised greater autonomy for the NC Hills and Karbi Anglong if the NDA is voted back to power.
The Manipur Chief Secretary has written to his Assam counterpart to bring the situation in the NC Hills under control.