Post Mortem

The ‘Inner Line’, its permit and the boundary

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 8/30/2018 11:32:00 AM IST

 Various publication appearing in local Media demanding stricter imposition of ILP all over and extending the same to cover Dilai Gate et al goes to imply that the imaginary “Inner Line” can become the boundary between Assam and Nagaland without realizing that this is exactly the demand of the Government of Assam.

Many Nagas appears to be oblivious of the fact of the ongoing litigation process on the Writ Petition filed by the Government of Assam in 1988  in the Hon’ble Supreme Court demanding the “Inner Line”, in particular the 1925 Notification of the British Government to be the boundary between the two States.

To talk of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 (BEFR) vis-à-vis the ILP has nothing to do with the regular District Administrative jurisdiction of border areas. It is merely to prohibit the Naga “Land Lords” to cross over to the then Revenue District of British Administration in Assam with arms to collect “Khat” money because the appearance of the Nagas in full war gears or traditional attires causes exodus of labors. From Ahom Kingdom probably by 16th. Century onward, there were more than 50 Naga “Khats”. These areas were under the suzerainty of many chieftains of various Naga tribes. Even though Naga people do not directly cultivate in these areas, the lands under such areas were under their control. When the British administration started to usurp these areas and started to issue land grants on lease to new prospectors, Nagas objected and in many areas, raids were frequently conducted against the laborers mostly the nascent tea industries in those days. Therefore the British Administration recognized such arrangement between the Ahom Rajas and Naga chieftains and allowed to pay “Khat” money to Naga people. The “Khat” money was paid by the Government of Assam till 1962 and the last “Khat” money distributed by the Government of Nagaland was upto 1968 on the instruction of the Government of India. There were as many as 23 ‘Khats’ that were being paid money according to the letter written by Shri SC Deb, the then Commissioner, Nagaland to Chief Secretary to the Government of Nagaland on 14th July 1972.

Therefore without full understanding of the history of the ILP and demanding the same to be imposed at this stage to Dimapur district will be extraneous to the Naga issue. It should be noted by all concerned that once the boundary is demarcated, the ILP will be extended accordingly as per Article 371 A of the Constitution of India.

The history of BEFR of 1873 has to be understood very clearly before we jump into ILP issue. According to the historical record of Ahom Kingdom called “Burangi”, it was during the reign of Raja Pratap Singh whose Ahom name was Susanpha who was also called Bura Raja by his citizens because of his wisdom. He ruled Ahom Kingdom from 1601 to 1640 AD. During his reign, he found out that the “Pykes” or cultivators of the land who constitute the Ahom army men slowly left their fields and homes in the Ahom kingdom for fear of Tibetan subjects from present Arunachal Pradesh and Naga raids in the northern Naga Hill areas destroying their “khetis” and also demanding yearly taxes. To overcome this problem, he entered into understanding with the tribal Chiefs and demarcated the foot hill areas into various “Dhars”, the trading points. And to facilitate the tribals to buy their essentials, he set up markets in every ‘Dhar’ and designated officials who will hand over their Dhar money to them every year. It was found to be very successful and his “Pykes” returned to their usual places.

Having succeeded in the Arunachal side, he turned his attention to the Naga raids into the plain sector of his Kingdom. Here he made understanding with various Naga Chiefs and demarcated a boundary by constructing a “Bund”, an uplifted mound of earth called “Ladaigarh”. The Nagas were not allowed to cross this boundary. They were to collect their “Khat” money from the designated officials called “Katokies” and thereby avoid any confrontations with the “Pykes” who cultivated only within Ahom territories and not across the “Ladaigarh”.

“Ladaigarh” was extended towards the south by another “Bund” called “Dhodar Ali” upto the conjunction of Doyang and Dhansiri and from there through a stream to Koliani river to its source. And from Koliani, a line from headland to headland to the conjunction of river Jamuna with Kopili forming a trijunction of Khasi and Jaintia Hills, Nowgong District and Naga Hills District. The boundary of the Naga Hills continue its south-west following Kopili river to its conjunction with Dhansiri river. Rest of the south and eastern boundary remain unexplored and unsurveyed even now.

(To be concluded)

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