| ATTSA activists stage a sit-in at Titabor on Thursday. Telegraph picture |
Jorhat, March 13: A notice issued by a village council in Nagaland, asking all the 48 families residing at Bhagyalakhi under Titabar subdivision in Jorhat district of Assam to vacate the area within March 20, has triggered tension along the inter-state border.
The Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association (ATTSA) held a rally at Titabar today against the state government’s inaction in protecting villagers residing along the Assam-Nagaland border who, they claimed, were at the mercy of goons from across the border.
The chairman of Amboto Old Village council in Wokha district had issued the notice on February 28, stating that the 52-bigha plot belonged to Nagaland and the “illegal settlers” should vacate it within 20 days of issuance of the order.
The villagers of Bhagyalakhi, comprising mostly ex-tea tribe community, who received the order on March 4, have apprised the Titabar subdivisional administration, which has taken it up with the authorities in Wokha district of Nagaland.
However, discussions held on the matter a few days ago failed, as Nagaland authorities were adamant that the particular plot of land belonged to that state and the village council chief had “every right” to issue such a notice to “illegal settlers”.
“We have increased police patrolling in the area and have asked for more forces to be deployed there,” Titabor sub-divisional officer (civil) Roshni Korati said.
ATTSA assistant general secretary Dhiraj Gowala said goons from Nagaland regularly threatened Assam villagers but Dispur was hardly doing anything to protect settlers along the inter-state boundary.
In June last year, goons from Nagaland had shot dead a tea garden labourer at Naginijan tea estate under Mariani police station in Jorhat district, just a few weeks after two labourers were kidnapped from the same tea estate and assaulted, again by goons from Nagaland.
The incidents had triggered widespread protest in Assam. Local groups had blocked all roads leading to Nagaland through Mariani. Passengers of several Nagaland-bound vehicles were injured when protesters in Assam threw stones.
Gowala today said if Amboto Old Village council does not take back the notice and apologise, ATTSA would launch an agitation against Nagaland. “We may resort to an economic blockade against the neighbouring state,” he said.
Assam and Nagaland have been at loggerheads over the boundary since Nagaland was declared a state in December 1963. The dispute continues despite a mediation process initiated by the Supreme Court a few years ago. The last round of mediation between the two sides took place in New Delhi on May 31 last year.
Nagaland maintains that over 59,000 hectares of its land along the inter-state boundary has been encroached upon by Assam. Denying the allegation, Assam claims that Nagaland has encroached upon large tracts of its land along the boundary.