Many lives of both Assam and Nagaland states perished at the fierce interstate war which took place in 1985 at Merapani over the border issue. Although the war was supposedly won “fair and square” by the Nagas, 25 years later, the question arises if those lives were lost without meaning.
In the aftermath of the war, a peace deal had been struck between the two state governments and people were happy with the governmental processes, anticipating a long lasting border solution as everybody wanted peace, harmony and development. Both sides agreed to refrain on certain activities on the so called Disturbed Area Belt (DAB).
According to an observation made by a social worker, W.C. Humtsoe, the present scenario showed a contrasting view of the two sides of the border trade centre, with the Assam side of Merapani sprouting into a business hub and well established college, schools, hospitals, government departments and a full-fledged police station developed over the years, perhaps with an additional development package from the responsible state government.
Whereas, on the Nagaland side, the ruins of Nagaland Government Veterinary Check Post destroyed during the war still remained unattended with most of its remnants either lost or gone missing.
The roads leading beyond and behind the bush were cut across by the command post of the neutral force (CRPF) under the control of Assam government, well fortified and barricaded. “… a semi literate constable is even authorized to summon anyone at whims at the check gate because for him, who cares, he may be just doing his duty innocently not aware that he is infringing on others fundamental rights too,” Humtsoe observed.
What mattered was not who lived at the border villages since everyone had the same rights to get the same justice, he said, and added that the only question was who would deliver justice to the people vindicated by circumstances. Sometimes it makes one to ponder if a direct command of the neutral forces from the central ministry of home affairs may deliver a fairer deal to the people till an amicable border settlement arrives, as it is for the people in authority to decide for their subjects and a history of legacy to record their wisdom.