Outfit feels Rengmas will lose their right to land if Karbi Anglong Territorial Council is created
The Isak-Muivah faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland or NSCN (I-M) has slammed the Central and Assam governments for a move to create a Karbi Anglong Autonomous Territorial Council by allegedly depriving the Rengma Nagas, the “legitimate owners”, of the land.
The BJP-led coalition government in Assam, in May, decided to upgrade the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) and the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) to territorial councils like the Bodoland Territorial Council.
Both the KAAC and the NCHAC share boundary with Nagaland.
The NSCN (I-M), on ceasefire since mid-1997, said the push for a territorial council was aimed at appeasing six Assam-based tribal insurgent groups active in Karbi Anglong, one of three hill districts in the State. The other two are Dima Hasao, covering the NCHAC, and West Karbi Anglong.
These groups are the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front, the People’s Democratic Council of Karbi Longri, the United People’s Liberation Army and three factions of the Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KLPT).
“Land alienation is the major point of conflict in the Northeast, particularly Assam and Nagaland… The issue in focus is Karbi Anglong, earlier known as Rengma Hills. Their [Rengma Nagas’] historical status as the true sons of the soil cannot be questioned,” the extremist group said in a statement.
‘Important agenda of talks’
The outfit said no authority should go far enough to override the interests of the Rengma Nagas “who are the legitimate owners of the land under the questionable proposition”. It said taking cognizance of this historical status, the Rengma issue in Assam constituted one of the important agendas of “Indo-Naga political talks” pending final decision.
In June 2013, the KLPT asked the Rengma Nagas to leave Karbi Anglong. Several people were killed in a series of attacks for a month since December 2013, forcing more than 3,100 Rengma Nagas to take shelter in relief camps.
“Significantly, the Naga political movement is all about land and people because land represents economic, political and social power and identity of the people. The Naga people had sacrificed countless lives in the course of the movement. It is a trail of blood, sweat and tears as no sacrifice comes too big for the Nagas to defend their God-given lands,” the NSCN (I-M) said.
The outfit made it clear that it would not accept alienation of the Nagas’ ancestral land since it is tantamount to undermining the spirit of the political talks.
“The Rengma Nagas are not a lost people or immigrants like others in Karbi Anglong. The NSCN (I-M) would not allow them to be driven to the edge without considering their historical factual status,” its statement added.
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