How did the conflict begin?
The violence in the Golaghat district along the Assam-Nagaland border has killed nine and rendered 10,000 homeless so far. Trouble started on August 12 when miscreants from Nagaland fired on agitators outside a CRPF camp in Upper Assam. The protesters were demanding the release of two students suspected to have been abducted by Naga insurgents. Following this, miscreants from Nagaland attacked villages, which lead to a mass exodus.
What is the genesis of the clash?
It is a conflict that has lasted for more than five decades. Naga Hills was a part of undivided Assam originally. The conflict started once Nagaland was created in 1963. Assam and Nagaland share a border spanning over 500 kilometres. The border is divided into six sectors. Golaghat falls in sector B and has always been a flashpoint between the two neighbouring states. In total, nearly 66,000 hectares of land is under dispute, nearly two-third of which is in Golaghat district, currently the eye of the whole controversy.
Why is the dispute lingering for so long?
The simple answer is that both sides have stuck to their position. The Nagaland government believes that the 16-point agreement between the government of India and the Naga People's Convention pledged to return all Naga territories which were annexed by Britain and made a part of undivided Assam. Assam on the other hand wants to keep the status quo. The government created the Sundaram Commission to resolve the issue in 1972. But Nagaland refused to cooperate in the survey of the border. Since then, the status quo has been maintained though the matter is currently languishing in court.
How frequent have been the clashes?
The niggle between the two states regarding the border issue has manifested in brutal skirmishes. In 1979 and 1984, two major clashes took place which resulted in the death of more than 100 people. In many cases, the needle of suspicion has veered toward the militant groups for fomenting trouble and inciting the locals.
What is the way forward?
As of now, things are relatively calm. The Central government has taken a strong stance on the issue. The chief ministers of both states have agreed to evolve a joint mechanism to resolve the issue. But hopes of a quick resolution look dim considering the chequered past.