Hundreds of vehicles were stranded at Numaligarh and Rangajan in Assam as the economic blockade on Nagaland imposed by Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity, All Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association, Assam Chamber of Commerce, All Assam Schedule Caste Students Union began since Saturday.
When contacted, Dimapur district administration sources said that the highway towards Wokha district (Merapani area) was affected by the blockade. SP Dimapur said he was in constant touch with his Jorhat Counterpart and closely monitoring the situation.
According to an Assam-based daily, more than three hundred trucks carrying amenities to Nagaland were stranded at Rangajan Tiniali (tri-junction) on NH-39 near Golaghat. A similar blockade was on at Merapani.
The Assam-based organizations threatened to continue the blockade indefinitely till Nagaland “returns” 250 bighas of land “illegally occupied” under Mekirang area in Wokha district.
The impact of the blockade has caused apprehensions that stocks of many essential goods and items including medicines would be depleted.
Third parties interfering in Mekirang impasse: KH
Our Correspondent Adds: Kyong Hoho Monday put the blame on ‘interference’ by third parties for the failure to arrive at an amicable solution in the current Mekirang impasse.
Kyong Hoho chairman Yansathung Jami told Nagaland Post that Mekirang village under Bhandari sub-division of Wokha district, Nagaland and Gaur Basti, an Adivasi village under Golaghat district, Assam failed to arrive at an amicable solution following the current impasse because of the ‘uncalled for interferences from third parties and various local-based Adivasi and Assamese organizations in and around the affected area.’
Despite a meeting between the two villages on August 8, DCs level meetings of the two districts of the neighboring states on June 12 and August 15, a solution to the impasse could not be arrived at.
On June 19, Mekirang villagers had waited in vain for Gaur Basti representatives to come for an appointed meeting at the “neutral” CRPF camp. Even at the DCs level meeting on August 15, some of the Gaur Basti leaders were represented by members from these local-based organizations.
Kyong Hoho officials on Sunday held a meeting with village councils and various organizations of the affected area including Mekirang Village Council, Longchum Village Council, Lotha Lower Ranges’ Public Organization, Kyong Lower Ranges’ Students’ Union and Bhandari Town Lotha Hoho at Bhandari town hall.
Dismissing reported claims made in Assamese dailies that Nagaland side had encroached upon 250 bighas of Assam land as ‘just hogwash’, Kyong Hoho was categorical that the current impasse was a law and order problem within Nagaland territory and was not a border problem as it did not fall under the DAB area.
While making it clear it was ready to go to any length to protect and preserve its lands, Kyong Hoho has also cautioned all Nagas not to travel near the border areas as the situation remained tense at the moment.
The hoho has also expressed its displeasure with the current situation where SDO (C) at the Bhandari ADC sub-division – the post of ADC at Bhandari ADC sub-division has been lying vacant since the end of May and that of Border Magistrate post at Merapani since April.
The posts of EACs at Bhandari ADC sub-division, Changpang and Baghty were reportedly lying vacant, added Kyong Hoho.
On the indefinite economic blockade being enforced against Nagaland by Assam organizations since August 17, Sunday’s meeting called it a total blockade as even the movement of people were being restricted by the neutral forces (CRPF) citing “danger to life”. They also said the blockade was against all norms as it was enforced without prior notice.
Adivasi tenants refuse to pay land tax
Mekirang village, about 4 ½ km from Merapani CRPF camp towards Nagapath was first established in 1920 by Karbis under permission of Longchum village.
When the village disbanded after a while, the land went back to Longchum village. In 1962, Longchum villagers along with some Karbis re-established the village and as such, Mekirang has a mix population of Lothas and Karbis. Mekirang village and Gaur Basti are neighbors separated just by the Mekirang River.
The trouble began when Adivasi tenant farmers from Gaur Basti farming within Mekirang territory began refusing to pay land tax to Mekirang Village Council under ‘interference from third parties’.
But the current impasse began on June 5 when members from a Mekirang SHG were working on a patch of land earlier known as Terang Colony (an erstwhile Karbi Colony long left behind and now a forested area) were chased away by a mob of 50-60 people from Gaur Basti led allegedly by one Gopal Gaur and his brother and two Assamese brandishing daos.
It may be mentioned that on June 11, Gopal Gaur and Bitut Gaur allegedly burnt down three houses belonging to Adivasis at Mekirang village and put the blame on Mekirang villagers perhaps with a view to incite communal discord. The DCs level meeting on June 12 had reportedly reached an understanding on apprehending Gopal Gaur and his supporters but they were still at large.
On August 13, a mob from Gaur Basti attempted to start farming activities inside Mekirang territory but the CRPF personnel prevented them from crossing the Mekirang River.
Again on August 16, another mob crossed over the river but the NAP personnel posted at the site pushed them back. Soon after, the Assam Police personnel, allegedly along with the ‘neutral’ CRPF personnel took up firing positions on the Assam side of the river prompting NAP personnel to do the same on the Nagaland side.
The tension was eased by the timely arrival of Bhandari SDO (C), 7th NAP commandant and Bhandari SDPO as well as the Border Magistrate from Assam side.
NCD, DCCI appeal HM on eco blockade
Drawing the attention of Nagaland home minister to the economic blockade imposed by nine Assam-based organizations at Rangajan junction blocking NH-39 leading to Dimapur and affecting Nagaland including Manipur, Naga Council, Dimapur (NCD) and Dimapur Chamber of Commerce and Industries (DCCI) Monday appealed to the home minister to take up the matter immediately so that economic blockade was lifted without any delay.
In a joint letter, NCD president Savi Liegise, vice president Vikato Zhimomi, DCCI president Hokivi Chishi and general secretary Harish Adhyanthyaya maintained that firstly, national highways should be kept open throughout as per the central government guidelines so that public of Nagaland and Manipur were not affected.
They maintained that the governments of Assam and Nagaland should take up the matter at the highest level and make arrangements to provide security and escort the stranded vehicles along NH-39. The two also said transporters of all the goods entering Nagaland and also to Manipur usually ply by NH-39.
They also pointed out that supply of food item, particularly perishable items, were affected, which would have an effect on the general public of Nagaland and Manipur.
Asserting dispute between two villages – one from Golaghat district of Assam and another from Wokha district of Nagaland – should be confined and settled between themselves, NCD and DCCI said it should not affect the two states.
“If the blockade is extended further there may be chaos in Nagaland and Manipur which might result in public unrest,” they cautioned.