At least two people were killed and 14 others injured when the police opened fire on protestors who went on the rampage in protest against alleged police atrocities and the recent violence on the Assam-Nagaland border.
The incident took place in the affected Golaghat district of Assam, 40km off the restive inter-state border, where nine people were killed and over 200 houses torched last week allegedly by militants from Nagaland.
The protestors, numbering several thousands, torched vehicles, including one belonging to the police, damaged public properties and fought pitched battles with the police. Several policemen were also injured in the clashes.
The protestors were seething with anger after the police on Tuesday fired shots and brutally beaten up people, including women, while trying to rescue nine Nagaland police personnel in the district. Last week, the cops from Nagaland were travelling to Jorhat to escort an MLA back home when they were held captive by the protestors.
One person was killed when he came under the wheels of a moving vehicle while fleeing the spot of police action. Several others were also injured. The mob fury on Wednesday was apparently in retaliation to the alleged police atrocities. Protests were also staged at various parts of the state on Wednesday.
It all started on August 12 when a group of Adivasis was fired upon by alleged Naga militants on the inter-state border. The Adivasis were staging a protest in front of a CRPF camp against the abduction of two youth by miscreants from Nagaland. The firing took place when they were fleeing following a lathi-charge by the jawans.
The CRPF has been deployed in the disputed border areas since 1979 as a 'neutral force'. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi insists that it is the duty of the CRPF to maintain the law and order there.
He on Wednesday blamed the Centre for the situation saying it was not taking the issue with all seriousness.
"The neutral force deployed in the border is responsible for the maintenance of law and order. Therefore, the Centre can't skirt its responsibilities," he said. "Give it to me. I'll deal with the situation more firmly. As the CRPF has failed, the people on the border are now demanding that the state government deploy Assam police battalions there," he said.
THE BORDER ROW
Assam and Nagaland have been embroiled in a bitter border dispute ever since Nagaland attained statehood in 1963. The dispute continues despite a mediation process initiated by the Supreme Court. Nagaland often accuses Assam of encroaching upon 59,000 hectares of its land along the inter-state boundary. Assam claims it is Nagaland that has encroached upon large tracts of its land.
LENGTH OF BORDER
Assam: Jorhat, Sivasagar, Golaghat, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao
Nagaland: Dimapur, Wokha, Peren, Mon, Mokokchung and Longleng
DISPUTED AREA BELT (DAB)
Area: 12,882 sq km marked sectors A, B, C and D fall in Golaghat, E in Jorhat and
F in Sivasagar district
An estimated over 200 lives have been lost since 1963. The major clashes were in
1968, 1979, 1985 and 1989
When Nagaland attained statehood in 1963, the 1925 boundary of the erstwhile Naga Hills district of Assam was taken as the inter-state boundary. Assam has all along accepted this but Nagaland claims that its boundary stretches to the DAB. It claims that the DAB was 'unjustifiably excluded' from the Naga Hills district between 1898 and 1925 without the consent of the Nagas.
Major Naga militant group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) demands the creation of "Greater Nagaland" by slicing off parts of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. The three neighbouring states are opposed to the demand.