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Centre snubs Nagaland

New Delhi, Aug. 19: The Centre today snubbed the Nagaland government amid the Assam government’s charge that the recent disturbance on the inter-state boundary was a result of a “terrorist attack”.

The Centre did not include Nagaland officials in a high-level meeting on the latest border flare-up held here between officials of the Centre and Assam, two days before Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and Nagaland chief minister T.R. Zeliang are scheduled to meet in Guwahati on Thursday to hammer out a peaceful solution to the impasse.

The meeting was chaired by special secretary (internal security) Prakash Mishra in the absence of Union home secretary Anil Goswami. Assam secretary (border) Jishnu Barua also attended the meeting.

The meeting decided to change the standard operating procedure of the CRPF (the way the force reacts to a situation) posted on the border. It also discussed that security forces could escort violence-affected people returning to their villages.

The latest clash along the inter-state boundary has resulted in the death of at least 14 people till now.

“The disturbance is not because of group clashes but a terrorist attack,” Assam chief secretary Jitesh Khosla told reporters after the meeting.

Home ministry sources also said the attacks were from the Nagaland side and some elements of the NSCN (Isak-Muivah) were involved. But there is no way of conveying a strong message to the outfit as talks with the NSCN (I-M) are currently suspended because of the absence of an interlocutor, they added.

Khosla said he was satisfied with the Centre’s response of augmenting neutral forces in the disturbed areas belt. Sources said the number of CRPF pickets in the affected sector have been increased from seven to 18. With tension continuing on the border, the Centre has decided to mobilise additional CRPF companies from within Assam.

The violence comes a fortnight before the likely hearing of a Supreme Court case on the boundary issue. The hearing would be crucial as tempers remain high in the region.

The disputed area where the latest violence has taken place, has its trigger in decades-old dispute in which the reserve forest was part of the Naga Hills district from 1880s to early 1900 but was later transferred to the plains, according to the Assam government.

The Nagaland government claims the entire disturbed area belt on the basis of the traditional boundary defined by the British in 1925.


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