Report by Women’s Fact-Finding Team
On 29th and 30th August, 2014, a women team comprising of Win G, Assam unit and AIPWA, TISS, PAJHRA and others visited affected areas of Assam-Nagaland border in Golaghat district of Assam under sector B and met people in different relief camps and villages. AIPWA, Assam was represented by Junu Borah, whereas Win G represented by Bandita Acharyya from Assam, Ms. Anjuman Ara Begum from Meghalaya, Pragya from Delhi, Barnabas from PAJHRA (Assam), Shilu Jamir from Nagaland, Ms. Halem Haokip from Manipur, Samhita Baruah from TISS, Guwahati.
Inter-state boundary conflict is an important issue in North East India. In January 2014 armed group from Arunachal Pradesh gunned downed 15 villagers of Assam in bordering Behali Reserve Forest area. And in the August, 2014 armed group from Nagaland attacked 14 villages of bordering Uriumghat areas of Gologhat district. It may be noted that the incident started with the kidnapping of 2 adivasi boys from the border villages in July 24, 2014 and since then discomfort had been brewing in the area.
The land dispute between the Assam and Nagaland has resulted in brutal skirmishes for decades. Before this violence, there were two major incidents in 1979 and 1985.
The trouble started when Assamese villagers staged a protest outside a CRPF camp on 11 August, agitating for the release of two school students who have been missing since July. They had last been seen heading to a village, on the Nagaland side of the borders. The Assamese protesters alleged that Naga insurgents had abducted the schoolboys. Naga insurgents fired on the protesters and the following day raided eight villages along the Assam border. One person was murdered and more than 200 houses in the district set afire.
The shooting led to mass eviction: 780 families of 16 villages and over 10,000 people of Sector ‘B’ of Uriamghat moved to 14 relief camps in different places of Golaghat District.
Our team at first visited three relief camps at Sarupathar i.e. 1 No. Sarupathar LP school, Sarupathar Public hall and Sarupathar Hindi school. In Sarupathar Public Hall there is 64 families and 274 people (male 99 and 130 female), no. of children are 15 (0- 3 yrs), 20 (3-6yrs), 10 (above 6 yrs). They are from 1 and 2 No. Chetia Gaon and other villages from Gholapani areas, where on 12th August Armed Naga miscreants fired on villagers and burnt their houses and cattles and goats and looted their properties. People fled away and since then they are in relief camps.
After that, we went to visit burnt villages, but on the way CRPF obstructed our team and did not allow us to enter in to the area and compelled us to return. On the way we returned back, some affected people extended their help and cooperation in reaching affected areas from another road. Finally we entered into Rajapukhuri village. When we reached that area, many people along with family members of one old women, who died in the relief camp, were making preparations for her cremation. We met 3 or 4 people who were present at that time, told us that they come to the village in the daytime to search for their cattle. They told us that they feel insecure in the daytime also. It is worth noting that most of the burnt houses are of adivasis.
People living in the area are cultivators and they produce paddy and vegetables, fruits and fish, milk and so on. We witnessed that miscreants burned villagers’ houses, their properties, their motor cycles, their paddy stores and everything.
We came to meet the family members of the protesters who were killed at Rangajan by Assam Police firing. We met the family members of one boy who was died on 20th August, 2014 at about 2 or 3 p.m. They told us that on that day an economic blockade was organized by various organizations against the Uriamghat conflict and there was a huge rally from Rangajan to Golaghat Town. They marched to the S.P. Office or D.C. Office at Golaghat, but when they reached the Erengapar Chariali at Golaghat, police firing started and in that police firing the boy was killed.
The family of the boy killed is yet to get any compensation, or even the post mortem report and FIR copy and any other related documents.
Condition of relief camps
People living in the camps are in very unhygienic conditions, lacking food, medicines and toilets. Due to unhygienic condition, most of the people, specially children, are sick. Doctors hardly visit the camp, only nurses come regularly and provide first aid. Only children up to 6 months get milk.
The Government of Assam declared Rs. 50,000/- compensation to the affected families for their rehabilitation, but that is not at all sufficient, as they lost all their belongings. Proper rehabilitation should be provided to the affected people. Otherwise, they will remain in relief camps indefinitely.
Justice should be given to all those who died, are injured and those who fled from their villages, as well as victims and survivors of the Assam Police firing. The Government must ensure exemplary punishment to the Police men found guilty into the firing.
Only CRPF and SSB are deployed for security in the affected villages. We did not see any Assam Police Force in that area. Why is Assam Police not deployed for the security of Assam’s people? The schools, religious institutions and public halls are occupied by the army and CRPF personnel, due to which students are deprived of education. The road and other communications are very poor. There are no telephone and mobile towers in that area. Only paddy field and forests are seen which were the main resource of the border people.
There is a deep sense of insecurity among the people of these areas, who cannot dare to return to their homes. Due to the total failure of the Government, miscreants are active in these areas and even fresh incidents continue to take place (this report has been written in mid-September).
The Assam Governmen must ensure full protection to the people and safe rehabilitation as well as adequate compensation.
Finally, political measures to be initiated to solve the border conflict immediately. Although the main duty lies on the concerned state Governments, the necessary involvement of the Central Government must be ensured.