Nagaland's refusal to accept constitutional border behind problem.
Guwahati (Aug 2014):
The genesis of the clashes along the Assam-Nagaland border areas
lies in the refusal of Nagaland to accept the constitutional boundary
of the states, which was drawn by the British rulers, while the failure
of the neutral force in acting tough against status quo violations
and to maintain law and order along the disputed areas along the border
also added to the problems.
Giving details of the background of the problem, highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that Nagaland was a part of Assam and in 1925, for better administrative control, the British rulers formed the Naga Hills district, the headquarter of which was initially located near Dimapur and later shifted to Kohima. The erstwhile district boundary between Nagaon district and Naga Hills district is now the inter-state boundary, where most of the problems are taking place.
Sources said that after Independence, some parts of NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh) were also included in the Naga Hills district and an autonomous council was formed in the late 1950s. But different Naga organisations were demanding creation of a separate state. The state of Nagaland was created in 1963 following the signing of a 16-point agreement between the Government of India and Naga People's Convention (NPC). Sources said that during the creation of the state also, the Government of India accepted the constitutional boundary drawn by the British, as the boundary between Assam and Nagaland during the signing of the 16-point agreement. But at that time also, the Naga organisations claimed that the British had demarcated the boundary as per their convenience for administrative control, but historical facts were ignored. At that time also, the Naga organisations demanded inclusion of "historically Naga-inhabited areas" in the new state, but the demand was turned down by the Government of India.
However, the boundary dispute started immediately after the creation of the new state and though the Government of India, on its part, formed the Sundaram Committee to examine the disputes and suggest recommendations, the Nagaland Government refused to accept the recommendations. The border areas witnessed the worst ever clash in 1979 when nearly a hundred people were killed and more than 20,000 displaced, forcing the Centre to deploy the Assam Rifles as a neutral force along the border to maintain status quo and to ensure that no trouble broke out in the disputed areas. The Assam Rifles was later replaced by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) as the neutral force.
But again in 1985, there was an open war between the police forces of Assam and Nagaland in the Merapani area, in which around 40 people were killed and the Centre, to bring the situation under control, increased the strength of the neutral force. The demand of the NSCN (I-M) for creation of greater Nagalim, the proposed map of which includes areas of seven districts of Assam, parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, added to the problems.
The Assam Government also filed a case in the Supreme Court and the mediators appointed by the court have already held talks with both Governments and submitted their report. Now it remains to be seen whether the decision of the apex court can bring a permanent solution to the vexed problem.
In the meantime, while the case was going on in the Supreme Court, there have been a number of clashes along the border and the most recent one took place this month, in which, according to official records alone, nine persons were killed and the unofficial death toll is much higher. Sources said that the neutral force failed to act on time to defuse the trouble and the force has been directed by the Centre to act tough against any miscreant and the number of outposts of the force has also been increased.
Sources also pointed out that at the time when Nagaland was created, the border areas were very thinly populated but the situation has now changed and increased population and encroachment on the forests along the border also added to the problem as both the Governments of Assam and Nagaland failed to protect the reserved forests from encroachments.
Courtesy: by the Assam Tribune.