Assam politician wants Dimapur and Merapani from Nagaland
Dimapur, September 18 : A politician from Assam has pushed the pepper with a statement that the government of Assam should take steps to “reclaim” Dimapur district and the business town of Merpani from Nagaland—even by using ‘force’.
The Bharatiya Janta Party’s (BJP) Member of Parliament Ram Prasad Sharma was quoted by a regional news outlet on Sunday as having told The Sunday Standard that Assam should ‘reclaim’ said two areas, two of the hill-state’s main commercial centres.
According to a Sunday report of the New Indian Express, the politician placed the demand based on Assam government’s leasing out Dimapur for 99 years after Nagaland was carved out of Assam in 1963.
Sharma, who represents the BJP from Assam’s Tezpur Lok Sabha seat was reported as having stated last week that the Assam government should reclaim Dimapur, even if it required force.
“We leased out Dimapur, also called Hidimbapur, which was a Dimasa kingdom. We should reclaim all land, including that in Merapani encroached by Nagaland,” he told The Sunday Standard.
The Dimasas tribe once ruled large swathes from present-day Dimapur to southern Assam’s Cachar district. They community traces its ancestry to Hidimba, the demon king who had confronted the Pandava prince Bheem (of the epic Mahabharata), the report stated.
The report also stated Assam’s claim that the Nagas had, allegedly backed by the insurgent group National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), ‘encroached 66,000 hectares across Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat and Karbi Anglong districts along the 434-km border.’
More than 100 people, mostly in Assam, have died in the resultant border friction, forcing the Centre and the Supreme Court to intervene, the report read.
The Assam government’s stand is to maintain the boundary “constitutionally” as decided on December 1, 1963, when Nagaland was created.
Nagaland on it part, the report explained, says that large parts of Assam were wrongfully annexed by the British in 1826, and “historically” belongs to it.
“Staking claim to areas beyond Nagaland just because scattered groups of the Nagas live there is ridiculous. If we go by this logic, we should be claiming Byrnihat (town in Meghalaya) where hundreds of Assamese people have been living before Meghalaya was carved out of Assam in 1972,” Sharma reportedly told the agency.
The New Indian Express also quoted the president of the Naga Hoho, the apex body of all Naga tribes in Nagaland. The Naga Hoho said Sharma was playing with fire.
“He cannot foment violence. Border disputes should be resolved politically. If he instigates violence through such assertion, the Assamese and Nagas won’t forgive him. We condemn his statement and appeal to maintain restraint while talking about the sensitive border disputes,” Naga Hoho chief Chuba Ozukum was quoted as having said.