R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, June 22 – Though the law and order situation in North Cachar Hills showed tremendous improvement since the militants belonging to DHD (J) surrendered weapons to come forward for talks, renaming the district is turning out to be a major political issue and if not dealt immediately, it can snowball into another law and order problem.
Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that only two civilians were killed in the district so far this year compared to 112 last year, which proved that the situation witnessed marked improvement. But in recent days, the militants belonging to the Kuki and Hmar groups started joining hands and triggered off a number of explosions, which is matter of serious concern.
Sources pointed out that though the blasts were of low intensity and did not cause much damage, there is urgent need to deal with the political controversy over the renaming of the district. Police and security agencies believe that the blasts were triggered not to cause much damage but to prove their existence as most of those blasts took place in front of Government offices where the sign boards were changed following the renaming of the district to Dima Hasao. The Kuki and Hmar militant groups have joined hands to form the Hill Tiger Force to oppose the renaming of the district and police believes that political leaders of non-Dimasa communities are also behind the movement against renaming of the district.
It may be mentioned here that the State Government decided to rename the district following signing of the cease-fire agreement with the DHD(J) and the Government decision is facing stiff opposition from the non-Dimasa communities. Security sources are of the view that the issue should be settled by the Government at the political level by holding talks with the groups opposing renaming of the district before the situation goes out of control.
Sources pointed out that whenever the district faced ethnic clashes, it was very difficult to deal with the situation because of the terrain and it is not possible to provide security to each and every village scattered in the hilly areas. The Government must hold talks with the agitating groups of people to prevent any such incident, sources added.
Security sources admitted that the police and security forces have not yet been able to achieve much success in the operations against the Kuki and Hmar militant groups active in the hill district because of the fact that the militants are not staying in any camps. Most of the members of those militant groups are staying in the villages and it is difficult to launch operations without getting specific tip off as the possibility of the common people raising a hue and cry in case of such operations in villages cannot be ruled out, sources admitted.
Interestingly, the Government does not have exact figures of the population pattern of the district and the security records in this regard are based mostly on the claims of the leaders of different communities. As per security records, the Dimasa population would be around 80,000, Kuki population is around seven to eight thousand, Hmar population will be around 15,000 and the Jemi Naga population would be around 20,000. However, sources admitted that the figures might not be correct as those were prepared on the basis of the claims made by leaders of different communities. Sources admitted that there is need for compiling the exact population records in a district which has a history of ethnic clashes. However, the Government will be in a better position to compile the records of the population pattern after the completion of the ongoing census operations.