NEW DELHI: The age old differences between two tribal communities from Villages Shamator and Kiphire took a serious turn when a couple travelling in a car were shot dead. Mobs in Kiphire went on the rampage protesting the daylight murder, with curfew being imposed in the state.

The outrageous shooting incident at Shamator, Tuensang district of Nagaland on February 6 sparked protest and violence. The couple was on their way to Kiphire when the vehicle they were travelling in came under a barrage of gunfire about 20 kms away from Shamator towards Kiphire, police sources claimed.

Speaking to The Citizen, Editor of The Nagaland Post Aachuba Yaden said, “ The tribes have a very strong presence in the region. They have these land related issues that they can kill for or die for. And these fights are going on for long. Killings are also happen. It is difficult to change their thought process as they belong to remote villages. They rely entirely on their land and do not understand the meaning of compromise. Negotiations have little scope here.”

The incident occurred in the evening between 5:00 to 6:00 pm about two kms beyond High Bridge also known as Muru Ke Bridge, the sources added. While motive behind the shooting remained unclear, the police sources said that it appeared to be an ambush as the road was found partially blocked by wooden posts at the site of the shooting. The two victims, identified as Alemba and Naro, were found dead in the vehicle. They are survived by four children.

According to sources, the couple was heading to Kiphire from Shamator village. The wife was employed as a nurse at Shamator village medical sub-centre, while the husband was a primary school teacher at Kiphire. The shooters had used sophisticated weapons as police found around 30 empty shells of US carbine, 7.62 and .303 calibre.

Irate mobs went on the rampage in Kiphire. According to the police in Kiphire, violence erupted around noon on Sunday after the bodies of the two victims reached the town. Mobs set fire to several vehicles on the road while destroying houses, the police said.

When the situation went out of hand, the district administration subsequently imposed Cr.PC 144 at around 3:30 pm. The imposition of prohibitory order did not have much of an impact as people continued to defy the order throughout the afternoon and well into the night despite the police even resorting to firing in the air. But this did not deter the mobs who continued to roam the streets regardless.

There was however no report of any casualty as a result of the violence so far. The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Kiphire, Dr. Tinojongshi Chang, later told reporters that 5 vehicles and 3 houses were gutted,and as many as 9-10 houses were damaged. A house belonging to MLA T. Torechu was also reported to be among the houses targeted by the mobs. It was further informed that an additional two companies of reinforcement was requisitioned.

" It will take time to make these communities understand that violence is not the way to achieve peace" added Yaden.

In Shamator, the situation was stated to be tense in certain pockets of the town, in particular Shamator village. As the restriction on information emanating from Shamator continues to leave the people in the dark on the ground situation, official sources from Shamator said that only two platoons of armed police personnel, besides the local police were stationed in the sub-divisional headquarter till the killing of February 6 occurred. One platoon was stationed at Shamator town, while the other was deployed at its namesake village.

Shamator sub-division, on the other hand has been simmering in a ‘cold war’ since the latter part of 2015. The sources though added that additional police force was requisitioned following Saturday evening’s incident.

The Nagaland State Home Minister, Y Patton, has expressed strong condemnation of the killing. He stated in a press release today that the State Police have been directed to nab the culprits responsible for the crimes and it is the “strong commitment” of the State Government that, “under any circumstances, it will leave no stone unturned to see that peace and tranquillity are not disturbed in the region.”

Maintaining the position of the Government that “violence can never be the means to bring peace and solution,” Patton stated that the Government has been “continuously working to see that peace and tranquillity should not be disturbed in Tuensang district and even have been holding series of meeting with the representatives of various tribal bodies to see that peace and tranquillity prevail in the region.”