The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Youths die, tribal truce in tatters

Silchar/Guwahati, June 18: Less than a week after leaders of the warring Dimasa and Hmar tribes signed a peace treaty, Assam’s North Cachar Hills district erupted in a fresh wave of violence that left two Dimasa youths dead and reduced clusters of huts to ashes.

Police sources said the two youths were today killed in a group clash in a remote village close to the district’s border with Cachar. A Hmar youth was injured in the clash, which took place after a mob torched 10 huts belonging to members of the Dimasa community at Didokhi village, near Dauthoja railway station.

The arson is believed to be in retaliation to a similar attack on the Hmar-inhabited village of Moulong Basti last night. Nearly40 deserted huts were gutted in the blaze.

Another group clash was reported from Thoy village, near Phaiding. However, there was no casualty. At West Kumacherra village, 45 km east of Haflong, Hmar assailants attacked a Dimasa youth identified as Binode Barman. He has been admitted to Silchar Medical College and Hospital. In spite of these incidents of violence, the district administration relaxed the curfew for 11 hours from 7 am.

In Guwahati, Dimasa student leaders accused the North Cachar Hills administration and the army of leaving their community at the mercy of Hmar militants.

Daring Hojai, a spokesman for the Guwahati-based Dimasa Students’ Association, charged security forces with being invariably late in reaching Dimasa villages during attacks by Hmar militants. Citing an instance, he claimed that when Jibro and Adimasa villages of the district came under attack, the army and the police reached the spot “after everything was over”. He said these villages were just seven km from Haflong, the district headquarters, and visible from army camps and the police station.

Hojai said militants of the Hmar People’s Convention (Democratic) were continuously attacking Dimasa-inhabited villages, but the hands of members of the rival Dima Halam Daoga were tied by the ground rules of the outfit’s ceasefire with Delhi.

The student organisation’s president, Joydeep Thousen, and its general secretary, Nabajyoti Bathari, said the unabated influx of Hmars into North Cachar Hills from neighbouring Manipur and Mizoram had worsened the conflict. The duo demanded an operation by security forces to flush out all Hmar militants.

The Dimasa student leaders said census reports from 1955 to 1996 showed a 679 per cent growth in the Hmar population of North Cachar Hills, as against the 384 per cent growth in the Dimasa population during the same period.

They claimed to have got wind of a conspiracy to force the Dimasas staying along the borders with Manipur and Mizoram to evacuate their villages for resettlement of Hmars displaced by the Tipaimukh dam.

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