| CRPF personnel keep vigil in the violence-affected area. Picture by Ritupallab Saikia |
Uriamghat, Aug. 13: The role of the CRPF deployed along the inter-state border to maintain order since 1979 has come under the scanner following allegations of inept handling of the situation triggered by the abduction of two boys from a Golaghat village allegedly by miscreants from Nagaland on July 26, leading to yesterday’s flare-up.
The affected villagers alleged that they had to flee their villages following constant firing by miscreants “from Nagaland from midnight to 4am”. Over 6,000 have fled their homes.
“We are here to play the role of facilitator so that officials of both states can carry out their duties without bias and to strictly maintain status quo as on January 2, 1979, as per the interim agreement between both the states,” Sandeep Shivhari, Sector Commandant of 142 Battallion of the CRPF in Uriamghat, told The Telegraph.
“Moreover, we can’t take any action against the NSCN (I-M) based on the allegation of the people as there is already a ceasefire agreement in force,” the officer said.
Apparently shaken by reports emanating from the field, Dispur has informed the ministry of home affairs to direct the CRPF to take firm action against goons from Nagaland to contain the situation. “We have also sought 10 additional companies for deployment in the disputed areas belt to avoid further escalation. We are constantly monitoring,” home commissioner G.D. Tripathi told The Telegraph. He is camping in the district.
The CRPF’s role was also discussed both within and outside the Assam Assembly with senior AGP legislator Keshab Mahanta raising questions about the neutrality of the central forces.
Mahanta said there have been allegations by local people of the affected areas that CRPF personnel under a commandant, who is a Zeme Naga, are allegedly playing a partisan role towards Assam. The AGP legislator expressed concern over the fact that the villagers, who were trying to escape batons, were fired on from the Nagaland side near a CRPF camp.
Outside the House, the All Assam Tribal Sangha general secretary Aditya Khakhlari said it is unacceptable to put a Naga officer in charge of the neutral force in disputed areas. The Sangha fears that the CRPF personnel may not intervene under a Naga officer and demanded his replacement.
Officials were guarded in their reaction. “We can have a situation where we can deploy armed Assam and Nagaland police. It will only deteriorate the situation,” one of them said.
Laben Tirki, who had managed to reach Daffodil English School, a relief camp in Uriamghat this morning, said all the houses in his village Jahaji Gaon were set ablaze by goons from Nagaland. “I have lost contact with my wife and three children and don’t know where they have gone,” he rued.