| D.P. Goala |
Guwahati/Silchar, July 27: Dispur has virtually ruled out renaming the North Cachar Hills — one of the key demands raised by the Jewel faction of the Dima Halam Daogah.
The militant outfit wants the district to be renamed Dima Hasao.
Urban development minister D.P. Goala told The Telegraph today that a committee, headed by him and constituted to examine the issue, in its report submitted recently has pointed out the difficulties in renaming the district because non-Dimasas constitute the majority in the district.
“We have examined every aspect of the proposal to rename the district. We have pointed out the difficulties in renaming the district as the Dimasas constitute only 43 per cent of the total population,” Goala said.
The other members of the committee include ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma and Rockybul Hussain. Home commissioner R.K. Bora was the convenor of the committee, he added.
Sources in the chief minister’s office said renaming the district according to the DHD (J)’s wishes would only escalate ethnic tension between the Dimasas and non-Dimasas in the district.
The non-Dimasas are opposed to the proposed name.
“There is already so much ethnic tension there. Renaming the district would only compound problems as things stand today. Moreover, the government is unlikely to go against the cabinet sub-committee report. The Dimasas constitute the single largest community, but does not form the majority of the district’s population,” a source said, pointing to the ongoing clashes between the Dimasas and Zeme Nagas that have left several dead and displaced hundreds since March.
The other tribal groups in the district included the Hrangkhwals, Kukis, Baites, Jaintias, Karbis, Hmars and Vaipheis, with a large concentration of Bengalis and Hindi-speaking people.
The DHD (J), in its eight-point charter of demands submitted to the state government recently, said compliance with its demands would pave the way for peaceful resolution of the problems.
The Dimasa outfit’s other demands include creation of an autonomous state within North Cachar Hills district, spread over an area of 4,890 square km and has a population of around 1.9 lakh.
The group also seeks to safeguard the ethnicity and diverse culture of the tribal population through introduction of the inner line permit. It has also demanded granting of general amnesty to all its cadres irrespective of ranks, and raising of a Dima Battalion for permanent rehabilitation of DHD (J) cadres in the security forces.
The other “legitimate” demands raised by the outfit’s deputy commander-in-chief Daniel Dimasa include creation of a separate parliamentary constituency and 10 Assembly constituencies for North Cachar Hills district.
At present, it has one parliamentary seat, covering Karbi Anglong and North Cachar hills district, and one Assembly seat.
The outfit has also sought a one-time special development package for the district from the Centre.
The source said the demands have already been placed before the Centre and will be discussed during the visit of Union home secretary G.K. Pillai on Thursday.