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Curfew continues in Karbi hills
Protests rock Nagaland

Protesters take out the rally in Dimapur on Monday. Pictures by UB Photos

Jorhat/Kohima, Dec. 30: Dispur today rushed more forces to violence-hit Karbi Anglong district in Assam while police arrested nine persons late last night for their alleged involvement in the violence.

In Nagaland, Rengma Nagas staged a rally today to protest against the alleged atrocities committed on members of the community in Assam’s hill district.

Trouble started on Friday morning after suspected militants of the Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers (KPLT) attacked a Rengma village under Santipur police station in Bokajan subdivision of Karbi Anglong, gunned down four persons, torched houses and damaged orange orchards.

Assam parliamentary secretary for home Atuwa Munda, who is on a visit to the affected areas since yesterday, told The Telegraph that preliminary investigations had indicated that imposition of “tax” by the KPLT on orange cultivation and the Rengma villagers’ refusal to pay could be a reason for Friday’s violence.

There were earlier reports about the KPLT asking Rengma Nagas to leave the area.

Munda said following the attack on Rengma villagers, the Rengma Naga Hill Protection Force, a militant outfit earlier unheard of, came into the picture and started targeting the Karbis.

He said 10 CRPF companies had reached Bokajan today and had been deployed in the trouble-torn areas.

Yesterday, three companies of Assam police battalions were dispatched to the district after fresh incidents of violence were reported in the morning.

Last night too, arsonists torched eight houses at Nillip. The police, however, foiled an attempt at Jengpha.

A joint team of Karbi Anglong police and security forces also recovered bullet-riddled, decomposed bodies of two aged women suspected to have been killed at Rengma mouja on Friday. The village is now abandoned.

The bodies have been brought to Santipur police station from where they will be sent to Diphu for post-mortem.

Munda, who was directed by chief minister Tarun Gogoi to visit the affected areas, said the situation was under control but tense.

Curfew continues in the Rengma-dominated Chakihula and Borpathar areas. Security arrangements have been tightened to prevent escalation of violence.

Munda, who reviewed the law and order arrangements in Bokajan with senior district and police officials and visited the violence-hit areas today, said police pickets were being set up in the affected villages so that people from both Rengma and Karbi communities taking shelter in relief camps could return home.

Three relief camps have been set up in schools and a community hall, and a village has been accorded relief camp status with people in that village being provided security and food, Munda said.

About 1,500 people from both the Karbi and Rengma communities are in the relief camps. Many of them have expressed their willingness to go back to the villages if security is provided, Munda said.

Two Rengma organisations, the Rengma Naga Peoples Council and the Rengma Naga Laison Committee, have urged Dispur to deploy sufficient security forces in the area to safeguard the minority community.

“If the attacks continue, the Rengma community living in Karbi Anglong will be finished. If the government does not take steps to protect our people, we will move for the intervention of an international organisation,” Rengma Naga Peoples Council adviser Devid Rengma told The Telegraph.

The nine persons arrested for violence during raids in Bokajan subdivision last night are Ronald Ingti, 56, Sanjay Hamse, 38, Komal Ranghan, 35, Stanley Hamse, 17, Raju Hamse, 32, Johnson Ranghan, 23, Jaisey Hamse, 33, D. Rongti, 40, and Harphong Ranghan.

In Kohima and Dimapur, Rengma Nagas staged a rally to protest the alleged atrocities committed on members of the community in Karbi Anglong.

Hundreds gathered at Phoolbari in Kohima this morning and took to the streets in Dimapur to condemn the alleged atrocities by militants that led to the exodus of Rengmas from Karbi Anglong to places along the Nagaland-Assam border and to Nagaland in the past few days. Around 200 people have already reached Dimapur.

The protesters urged the Nagaland and Assam governments to protect the lives and property of Rengma Nagas, provide them adequate security and end the atrocities that led to their exodus.

In a memorandum submitted to Nagaland governor Ashwani Kumar after the rally in Kohima, the protesters urged him to ask the Centre to form a commission to find a solution to the Rengma-Karbi crisis and facilitate immediate rehabilitation of the Rengmas.

In another memorandum submitted to the Assam chief minister through Dimapur deputy commissioner Hushili Sema, they sought steps like deploying the army in the troubled areas, arresting the culprits and banning the KPLT.

Nagaland PCC spokesperson S.I. Jamir said the party was concerned over the plight of the Rengmas in Karbi Anglong. He said delegates of the Nagaland PCC would meet Assam PCC office-bearers and the Assam chief minister to request immediate intervention in restoring normalcy.

The Nagaland delegation, comprising representatives from various organisations, led by Naga Hoho, the apex body of the Nagas, will leave for Guwahati soon.

The state unit of the BJP also condemned the violence and urged the Assam government to protect the minorities living in Karbi Anglong.

Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio has written to his Assam counterpart as well as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressing anguish over the violence in Karbi Anglong and seeking their immediate intervention.

He said the state government was ready to extend all possible help to stop the violence in Karbi Anglong.

The Nagaland Baptist Church Council (NBCC) has appealed for relief for the displaced Rengmas living in Nagaland and along the Nagaland-Assam border.