Nagaon, July 1: A senior Assam government official and a constable were killed when NSCN (I-M) militants attacked a team of police and civil officials on an eviction drive in the Dhansiri reserve forest in Karbi Anglong district today.
Police sources said the team comprised personnel of Karbi Anglong police, commandos and the CRPF. The leader of the team, extra-assistant commissioner of Dhansiri Dipankar Das died on the spot, while the constable succumbed to his injuries later. Nine policemen were critically injured in the attack.
The militants, who had constructed at least 22 well-entrenched bunkers in the area, attacked the team as soon as it entered the reserve forest at Mangalamukh in Jamunapur mauja at 2.30 pm.
Police said the eviction drive had been initiated to clear a huge portion of the reserve forest, which had been encroached upon by a Nagaland-based NGO to set up a model village.
Karbi Anglong shares a 40-km border with neighbouring Nagaland between Dhansiri and Khatkhati.
Naga villagers, with the support of the NSCN (I-M) militants, had built a model village, to be called Atur Kimi, on 2,500 hectares on the banks of the Dhansiri river.
The villagers started settling in the area after procuring fake no-objection certificates, allegedly from the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council. However, the council has denied issuing the certificates.
The model village is close to the NSCN (I-M)’s designated Hebron camp.
The outfit has demanded parts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills district of Assam for “greater Nagalim”.
On March 4, the outfit’s leader A. Jami directed “all sections of society living in the locality to co-operate in establishing the model village”.
The state government had recently directed the Karbi Anglong administration to demolish the thatched houses and evict encroachers from the reserve forest.
Dispur had also deployed Assam police personnel along the border with Nagaland in Karbi Anglong after tension soared over attempts to set up the Naga village.
A high-level team of the district administration and Karbi Anglong superintendent of police Pankaj Sharma visited the encroached area a few days back to review the situation.
A leading Dimasa group, the Dimaraji Hasom, had warned the Assam government that unless it cleared encroached land, it would lead to communal clashes in the hills district.
A Dimasa organisation, the Dimasa Khunang Hasung, had also submitted a memorandum to Karbi Anglong deputy commissioner Anurag Goel.