May 28: Two displaced Zeme Naga boys who had rushed back to their burning homes in the deserted hamlet of Mabao were gunned down today in North Cachar Hills’s continuing drama of ethnic vendetta.
By noon, all that remained of 16 homes in Mabao were sheets of tin and a few charred wooden poles.
Villagers of Mabao had fled their houses after the recent spate of attacks by suspected Dimasa tribesmen and shifted to a school nearby where security forces were on guard round the clock.
Around 11.15 this morning, a group dressed in fatigues, suspected to be Dimasas, swooped down on the village, about 25km from the district headquarters town of Haflong, and set ablaze 16 huts.
The two boys were sniped when they rushed out of the school to see if could retrieve anything from their burning homes.
Today’s attack comes barely a week after a row of Dimasa villages were gutted by suspected Zeme Naga miscreants.
Police suspect that today’s arson was the handiwork of Dimasas.
It came a day after a high-level team of the Union home ministry visited Haflong to take stock of the situation.
Police officials in Haflong quoted Zeme Naga villagers as saying that a group of miscreants armed with sophisticated weapons stormed into the village and began torching their homes.
The police guards at the school where the villagers had shifted said they rushed to the hamlet but the culprits got away.
The village is located atop a hill and is a 1km steep trek from the school.
Troops from the paramilitary forces rushed to the area from Haflong and launched a combing operation to track down the culprits.
On May 21, a dozen houses belonging to Dimasa tribals were set ablaze in Doubla village under Mahur block, 20km north of Lower Haflong railway station.
Thirty-seven houses were burnt down in the Dimasa-inhabited village, Phaidong, near Mahur township and three persons killed on May 9.
As the ethnic fury continued to rage, there was bad news for the district’s railway department as well.
No goods train could move out of Lumding to Badarpur after railway staff discovered that tracks had been removed near Dizaobra railway station.
Following a high-level meeting involving senior Union home ministry and state government officials on the security situation in the North Cachar Hills yesterday, it was decided that the administration would seek help from the army to run trains in the district.
The central team, headed by special secretary (internal security), Union ministry of home affairs, Raman Srivastava and ministry of home affairs joint secretary (Northeast) Navin Verma visited Haflong yesterday for an on-the-spot review of the situation with the district administration and security agencies.