Jorhat, Oct. 29: Villagers fled from the Assam-Nagaland border after suspected Naga militants fired in the air for several hours near Janikpathar under Charaideo subdivision along the border in Sivasagar district last night.
Their trauma did not end there. “When we returned this morning, we found our houses were being damaged by wild elephants,” a villager said, when contacted over phone.
He said a large group of armed men started firing in the air near the village at around 9.30pm last night.
“Initially we thought it was the sound of crackers but when we went outside we could see armed men firing in the air and shouting at us to vacate our village,” the villager said.
The villagers immediately informed the forest department and the police.
The police arrived about two hours later. By then, most of the villagers had fled from the area.
A police officer at Sonari said the men from Nagaland fled as soon as the police arrived. “They crossed over to the other side of the border through Abhayapur reserve forest. It could not be ascertained whether the armed men were Naga militants or goons,” the official said.
The officer said the police party returned from the area late at night.
“When the villagers returned this morning, they found that several houses were damaged. There were clear signs that the damage has been caused by a herd of elephants. Probably the herd descended on the village after the police party left,” the officer said.
A Charaideo sub-divisional administration official said there are instances of people from across the border harassing villagers residing on the Assam side.
“The goons also looted cattle and poultry from the villagers. It could be a group who probably came on a looting spree but fled when the security forces arrived,” he said.
Last year, a gang abducted the village headman of Janakipathar, Madhu Munda.
He was rescued by security forces from Assam following a gun-battle in a camp inside Abhayapur reserve forest where Munda had been kept captive.
A forest official said that the miscreants from Nagaland also tried to fell trees at the Abhayapur reserve forest frequently. “Only a few months back, forest guards had engaged in a gun battle with a group of timber smugglers from across the border,” he said.