Jorhat, Aug. 19: Assam today blamed Nagaland for the crisis arising out of a disputed plot of land along the inter-state border in the Merapani area of Golaghat district, as the economic blockade against the neighbouring state entered the third day today.
Rows of trucks have been stranded along National Highway 39 at Rangajan and at Merapani town, as activists of three organisations — of which two were students’ bodies — enforced the blockade.
The three organisations are the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association.
Golaghat deputy commissioner Sanjib Kumar Gohain Barua strongly refuted his Wokha counterpart Vyasan R.’s claim that the 250-bigha plot (Kolajan Gaurbasti area under Merapani police station) was not in the district’s disputed area belt.
He said the plot was very much under the disputed area belt and hence, both sides should maintain status quo according to the order of the Supreme Court.
Gohain Barua denied that a few villagers among nearly 50 families, who had been cultivating paddy in the area, had an agreement with the villagers of neighbouring Mikirang village (Nagaland).
He said they had not been paying a token price to the village council to cultivate the plot as claimed by the Wokha deputy commissioner before The Telegraph yesterday.
The Golaghat deputy commissioner said the villagers had been cultivating the land since over 40 years and never had any problem.
“Suddenly in June, the Mikirang village council served a notice to the Assam villagers to pay tax claiming it to be their land. This was backed by the Wokha district administration. We had requested the Wokha administration several times and had discussions to allow the farmers to cultivate the plot as it was peak time for paddy cultivation, but they (the Nagaland side) were adamant.”
He said the Wokha administration had been preventing the farmers from cultivating the plot by deploying Nagaland police personnel.
Burning of three houses by suspected Naga goons in the area a month ago has led to mistrust among the people on both sides, the deputy commissioner said.
Gohain Barua said after the talks with his Wokha counterpart had failed, he had informed Dispur about the same and now the issue was being taken up at the government level. He said he has been appealing to the organisations to withdraw the blockade, but so far the protesters were sticking to their demand.
AJYCP organising secretary Jitul Rajkhowa said the blockade would not be lifted till the Nagaland government stopped harassing Assamese people and allowed the farmers to cultivate paddy in the area and the Assam government ensured safety and security of people living along the Assam-Nagaland border.
He said over 150 vehicles are stranded.