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ATTSA claims land proof

Jorhat, June 16: A delegation of the Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (ATTSA) will meet Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi tomorrow with documentary evidence of Nagaland’s alleged systematic encroachment on Assam land.

The delegation will comprise ATTSA president Prahlad Gowala, general secretary Pawan Kedia, assistant general secretary Dhiraj Gowala and some other office-bearers, Gowala told this correspondent.

The assistant general secretary said the students’ organisation had prepared a memorandum with documentary proof, including pre-Independence-era maps — prepared by the British over 90 years ago — that show the border areas of Mariani and Naginijan tea estate.

“We have collected photographs that are 30-40 years old, which show tea plantations and forest areas in Assam territory. In comparison, current photographs of the same areas show human settlements of Naga people, rubber plantations and paddy fields,” Gowala said.

Apart from calling for an early solution to the border row, ATTSA will also ask the government to construct roads, install streetlights and set up healthcare centres along the border to help security forces prevent further encroachment from the Nagaland side.

The Naginijan incident will also be discussed in tomorrow’s meeting. ATTSA will demand Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of Sanjoy Bhumij, who was killed in the June 3 shootout at Naginijan tea estate.

The government had earlier announced that Rs 5 lakh would be paid to Bhumij’s family as compensation.

Gowala said the students’ organisation would urge chief minister Tarun Gogoi to ask his Nagaland counterpart to apprehend and hand over the criminals who killed Bhumij.

Workers and family members conducted Bhumij’s shraddh ceremony today at the garden. ATTSA publicity secretary Mahendra Tanti was also there.

Tanti said Nagaland had not handed over the goons who were involved in the abduction of two workers of Naginijan tea estate on May 23 and despite assurances from officials in Mokokchung district, the culprits who attacked two workers in Assam on February last year were also roaming scot-free, Tanti added.

Jorhat deputy commissioner R.C. Jain said his Mokokchung counterpart, Murohu Chotso, had expressed regret over Bhumij’s killing and promised that the culprits would be arrested. But so far no one has been booked.

Chotso had earlier said he would arrest the chairman of Saring Basti if he failed to identify the criminals involved in the Naginijan incident by June 6. But now Chotso maintains that the chairman is “trying his best”.