The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nagas avert border clash

Jorhat, April 2: Nagaland shelved a plan to rename a village in Assam's Golaghat district at the last moment today, thus averting a possible bloodbath between police forces of the two neighbouring states even as sentiments ran high on this side of the border.

A large number of Assam police personnel gathered at the village situated in the disputed D Sector on the Assam-Nagaland border this morning after news spread that Nagaland agriculture and horticulture minister T.N. Lotha would formally rename it.

However, Lotha finally did not turn up at Doldoli village under Merapani police station. The village, having a population of about 35 Naga families and few Adivasi ones, was supposed to be renamed Hayiyan, a Naga name. The village was set up in 1990.

The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) has set a 15-day deadline for the state government and the Centre to clarify how they wanted to resolve the border row between the two states.

The AASU units of Jorhat, Golaghat and Sivasagar threatened that if they did not receive any positive response within the next 15 days, they would launch an economic blockade against Nagaland.

The Assam government had lodged a strong protest after Nagaland's plans to rename the village became known. 'We were prepared to stop any move by Nagaland to stake claim over the village by renaming it. It was good that the neighbouring state shelved the move,' Golaghat deputy commissioner John Ekka said today. Ekka was camping at Merapani, which observed a bandh today in protest against the Nagaland move.

Ekka said Doldoli village was definitely on Assam territory. 'Ever since we heard about the move by Nagaland to rename the village, we have lodged a protest. Nagaland had formally invited the sector commander of the CRPF stationed at the disputed area to attend the renaming ceremony,' he said.

Yesterday, a large number of people lodged a protest rally in front of the CRPF commandant office at Merapani. 'I specifically informed the CRPF to stop Nagaland's move,' Ekka said, adding it was a common design by Nagaland to occupy Assam land. 'They (Nagaland) will erect a nameplate in a village and later claim that the area belonged to them,' Ekka said.

The Nagaland move comes at a time when Assam governor Lt Gen. (retd) Ajai Singh wrapped up a visit to the border areas to take stock of the prevailing situation. The governor will submit a report to the Centre on the Assam-Nagaland border impasse.

Singh had categorically stated that Assam would not allow Nagaland to encroach upon its land at any cost.

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