Kohima, Sept. 29: Activists of the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) this afternoon set ablaze over 100 huts, allegedly belonging to encroachers, at Intangki National Park, 45km from Dimapur.
The Nagaland government had announced plans to evict encroachers from the national park, but had not succeeded. Playing a vigilante’s role to the hilt, the NSCN (I-M) today took the law into its own hands, sparking fears of an internecine conflict among Naga tribes.
When contacted, officials of the Dimapur district administration admitted that they were not fully aware of the details of the incident. However, a senior NSCN (I-M) functionary told The Telegraph over telephone this evening that the outfit’s activists had torched over 100 huts inside Intangki National Park.
“Deputy minister” for information and publicity of the “Government of the People’s Republic of Nagalim”, Alezo Chakhesang, said they had issued an order for immediate eviction of all encroachers from Intangki National Park, a habitat of wild elephants.
Several armed activists of the outfit burned down hutments and shanties in the area despite resistance from encroachers. More than 150 encroachers were also taken into “custody” by the NSCN (I-M). Officials of the administrations of Dimapur and Peren districts have not reached the spot so far.
Sources said the Western Sumi Hoho, an apex organisation of the Sumi Nagas, convened an emergency meeting this evening to take stock of the situation.
Earlier, on August 28, the outfit had torched 30 huts at New Jalukie Zangdi village. This had resulted in an uprising among the Zeliangrong Nagas, who withdrew their support to the NSCN (I-M) vis-à-vis the ongoing political talks with Delhi.
On September 18, forest and environment minister Kheto Sumi told the state Assembly that over 400 new huts have been erected in the park by several Naga tribes, most of them Sumi Nagas.
He promised immediate eviction, but added there was a problem since NSCN (I-M) activists were present in the area.
The NSCN (I-M)’s arson today was prompted by the steadily spiralling protests against the outfit from several quarters over the park. In particular, the Tenyimi Union, a conglomeration of 10 Naga tribes, has accused the outfit of allowing other Naga tribes to encroach the park. Most of the encroachers are from tribes outside this union.
A meeting of Tenyimi people last night said Intangki belonged to the Zeliangrong people, adding that they are the sole landowners.
It dismissed the claim of the Western Sumis that Intangki National Park is “no man’s land”. A resolution also sought compensation for the victims of arson at Jalukie Zangdi village.
The western Sumis of Nagaland have cautioned both the state government and the NSCN (I-M) against any move to evict encroachers, particularly from Inavi village, adjacent to Intangki forest.