India: police torch homes in Northeast border dispute

Among the world’s many escalating cycles of terror and militarization that fail to make headlines is that in Northeast India, the scene of multiple tribal and ethnic struggles which the government has long been attempting to crush or co-opt. We recently noted rising terror and repression in Assam state. Now the Assam violence is spilling across the border into Nagaland—where a tribal insurgency maintains a ceasefire in exchange for unofficial autonomy over their territory. In addition to the insurgencies, Delhi may soon be faced with an internal war between the two remote states. From Calcuta’s The Telegraph, Feb. 20:

Assam cops spark tension in Nagaland
Kohima — Tension is brewing along the Nagaland-Assam border in Sector C, under Mokokchung district of Nagaland, some 300 km from here. The Nagaland government complained of incursions by Assam police into Nagaland territory yesterday. The policemen allegedly arrested four Nagas from Anaki-C village and set ablaze four houses and destroyed a tea garden.

Officials of the district administrations of Mokokchung and Sivasagar are meeting at Mokokchung to resolve the problem. The Nagaland government has rushed additional security forces to the locality to control the situation.

Nagaland commissioner T.N. Mannen said Assam police arrested four persons while a local villager told The Telegraph over telephone that in retaliation, his group has taken 60 Assamese people hostage. However, 40 of them were later released.

Mannen said around Sunday noon, Assam police personnel entered Anaki-C village and arrested six persons. They returned around 4 pm with arms and harassed villagers. He alleged that the jawans threatened the villagers, sparking panic. Mannen said he had spoken to his Assamese counterpart to immediately release the arrested persons and stop further incursions into Nagaland.

The commissioner revealed that ever since the Assam-Nagaland border dispute erupted, Dispur has not been co-operating with the Nagaland government and has always been trying to create problems in the border areas. He claimed that Assam had an ulterior motive in claiming land of the Nagas as its own and was trying to push its forces into Nagaland territory. He termed Dispur’s move a “well-planned kind of action”.

Mannen said in a similar incident a few months ago, Assam police had picked up some workers and local villagers from Yajang village under Tuli subdivision. The arrested persons were released followed the intervention of the district administration.

“There is another dispute at Ralan range (in Wokha district) over the construction of a water pump on land which the Assam government claims to be its own,” he added.

Alleging that there have been repeated incursions from Assam, Mannen said the area was definitely under the grip of tension. He said Assam has always adopted an aggressive attitude.

“We cannot allow Assam to take aggressive action,” he said. The commissioner said a team of the local boundary commission had arrived here to study the problem and Nagaland would present its case before the commission. He underscored the need for appropriate measures to resolve the long-pending issue.

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