Silchar, April 5: The National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) has agreed to the army’s request to set free the three Dima Halam Daoga (DHD) militants in its custody to help restore normalcy in the riot-scarred districts of Cachar and North Cachar Hills.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who is scheduled to visit Cachar district tomorrow, is expected to announce rehabilitation schemes for Dimasa refugees and a security package for the district.
The GOC, 57 Mountain Division, Maj. Gen. Ravinder Singh, told The Telegraph today at a relief camp at Dholai, 25 km south of here, that the army had recently got in touch with the NSCN (I-M) leaders, who had assured that the DHD cadres would be set free “soon”.
The abduction of these DHD cadres by Naga militants in league with Hmar tribals in North Cachar Hills in February, had triggered retaliatory abduction and violence which snowballed into an ethnic riot in North Cachar Hills and Cachar districts.
Gen. Singh said detachments of his division had moved into the foothills of Bhuban hills on the Cachar-Manipur border to round up the Hmar assailants involved in the worst-ever carnage in Cachar district on March 31. Hmars, equipped with gun and daggers, had mowed down Dimasa farmers in Cachar’s remote villages of Chekarcham and Meghnathal that day.
A string of dignitaries today visited the Dholai and Ganganagar relief camps where Dimasas have sought shelter. The first to visit the camps was Gen. Singh, accompanied by a team of local newsmen. Others who visited the camps were Assam minister of state for home Rockybul Hossain, state director-general of police H.K. Deka and an all-party delegation from Guwahati led by Speaker Prithibi Majhi.
Several facts relating to Monday night’s raid by Hmars on Dimasa farming families were revealed during the dignitaries’ visit.
The Hmar People’s Conference (Democratic) militants, dressed in battle fatigues and equipped with modern arms, allegedly had a large role to play during the raids.
The strength of their cadre during the attack was 100 and not 30 as earlier revealed by the authorities here. Besides, some local Hmar youths, who had friendly ties with the Dimasas in the two villages, also took part in the massacre.
Sima Barman, a young girl at Dholai camp, identified a few of these youths as Lalrunkima, Khuma, Chandama, Ngura and Rosenga. Even the headman of the Hmar village of Dholakhal Rema Hmar was apparently seen asking Hmar youths to take part in the arson at Chekarcham and Meghnathal hamlets.
Army officials at Dholai camp said all the Hmar rioters had either slipped into the dense jungles on the Cachar-Manipur border or had crossed the border to Manipur. The Army is now considering a pincer thrust in the jungles from Manipur, Mizoram and Sonai block in Assam’s Cachar district to trap them.
At Ganganagar camp, Gen. Singh talked to 17 Hmar women whose husbands had been killed on Monday. Leena Burman, 24, widow of Arijit Barman, could not stem her tears as she narrated the trauma. She said the Hmar attackers had forcefully taken her husband from their cottage at Meghnathal and killed him. They had also set fire to their granary.
The Assam government is likely to unveil a rehabilitation scheme for these Dimasas in a bid to ensure their return. This would include houses for them under the Indira Awas Yojana. So far, 550 Dimasas have taken shelter in Dholai block and 750 Hmars at Hmarkhawlien village.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who is likely to visit the camps during his trip to Cachartomorrow, is expected to announce the schemes for their rehabilitation along with a security package for the district. The package will envisage the setting up of camps of Assam Armed Police along the Cachar border to thwart the ingress of rebels from adjoining districts and states.
The desire for land is said to have fuelled the ethnic riots. Hmars, who are flocking to Cachar district from Manipur and North Cachar Hills, are finding it hard to acquire land and are targeting the Dimasas at Checkarcham.