Assam Govt Initiates 'Gaon Sabhas' to Dilute Border Tensions with Nagaland
Assam-Nagaland border was a witness to violence recently
NEW DELHI: A major initiative has been undertaken to rebuild the sagging trust deficit amongst the people living in the border areas of Assam and Nagaland, particularly the Jorhat district of Assam and the adjoining Mokokchung of Nagaland. The Jorhat district administration has organized a ‘Border Week’ program at Selenghat block along the border.
The get-together, titled “Gaon Sabha” involved various departments - be it Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) , Power Works Department (PWD) (R&B), Health, Education, Welfare , Rural Development, Food & Civil Supplies or Forest, ASEB, Agriculture & Veterinary.
The district officials interacted with the locals and paid heed to their grievances trying to understand, record and find solutions to their complaints.
This attempt to thwart the fear psychosis amongst the locals by the Jorhat administration has been extolled by various organisations.
Praising this initiative, the President of Border Peace Coordination Committee (Assam-Nagaland), BP Bora stressed on the need build for building such a platform where people living in the border can reach and speak to the top hierarchy of the district at their doorstep.
The coordinator of the BPCC (A-N) further emphasized the need to establish super specialty hospitals, multipurpose cultural and sports complexes in order to build exchanges and trust between the people of Assam-Nagaland border areas. He also opined that cooperative farming may be encouraged in the common border areas at the fallow lands and suggested that High School students belonging to border areas must alternately visit each other’s places during holidays.
Meanwhile, urging the public not to propagate any false alarm which harms both the parties in the end, the district police representative, Dy. SP 1st APB Hussain, who was also present at the Sabha, narrated some situations which were a result of rumors “which engulfed tension in the border belt and its people.”
The next round of Gaon Sabha has been scheduled on September 23 and will take place at the Jungle Block High School near New Sonowal.
While, on one hand, such efforts are being made on the ground in order to rebuild relations between the two states, on the other, the statements coming from the ministers and a few organizations represent a different tenor altogether.
The Naga Students Federation (NSF) wrote a letter on Saturday to the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in regard to the claims made by the Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi with respect to the withdrawal of the Nagaland Armed Police (NAP) from the border areas.
The letter signed by the NSF President Tongpang Ozukum and Assistant General Secretary Kesosul Christopher clearly read that Tarun Gogoi is on another mission to mislead the central leaders on border issues.
The letter further said that the NAP has been withdrawn from all the border areas by the Nagaland Government as per the Interim Agreement, rather, the Assam Government still has forces at these regions.
The Interim Agreement was signed between the two states in presence of the Common Governor on 28th January 1979 in Shillong and the Ground Rules were made on 11th April 1979 in New Delhi in presence of the then Union Home Minister.
As per the aforementioned agreement, in place of Nagaland and Assam Armed Police, CRPF and Assam Rifles was deputed as ‘Neutral Forces’ and the overall operation command of the CRPF and Assam Rifles was put under the Addl. I.G. Assam to be assisted by D.I.G. of Police from the two states.
However, the letter read, that these neutral forces have always acted against the Nagas at the behest of Assam Government, adding that 20 more CRPF posts were brought under the Assam State command to further subjugate the Nagas living in the border areas.
The NSF further claimed that the Chief Minister of Assam has been misleading his own people throughout his chief ministership and has been pushing them to the border areas to fight the Nagas in the name of Assam and under the patronage of their government at the cost of the aged-old brotherly relationship between the indigenous people of the two states.
Hence, the NSF demanded revoking or reviewing these agreements in order to maintain a peaceful atmosphere in the border areas, besides asking the Centre to take action against the Assam CM.