My Years in Service
Khekiye K. Sema
[dropcap]L[/dropcap]AW & ORDER ISSUES: On the whole, I did not have to contend with any Law and Order problems during my brief tenure, other than the ones already reflected. The only heat that came up was the matter of land dispute between Yankili village of Wokha and Logoswenyu village of Tseminyu Sub-Division. During the period of Shri. Sunep Ao’s tenure as SDO(C) the dispute was attended to, in co-ordination with the then SDO(C) Tseminyu. Their decision was however not accepted by the Yankili Village. Though this village had thereafter, been appealing to the DC Wokha for reconsideration, it was strangely neglected. One of the assumed factors, as to why their case was left unattended to, was that Shri. Sunep carried on at Wokha as ADC and finally as DC. The contention was that he was not interested in reviewing this case. No one really knows the real reason but the fact remains that the Yankili village still disputes the decision. With the onset of a new cultivating season, the Logoswenyu villagers had entered this area, which was decided in their favour, and had cleared the jungle for jhuming. The Yankili Villagers took offence and went and burnt the cut jungle before time. The Logoswenyu villagers reacted sharply and took up arms against Yankili village, reportedly crossing into the official boundary of Yankili Village territory. There was a cross exchange of fire in which two Logoswenyu villagers sustained gun injury; one of them was reported to be serious. The matter was reviewed and the Yankili villagers were fined Rs.10,000/- for taking law into their own hands, instead of coming to the Govt. They have paid this fine. (DC may like to ascertain whether this fine money has been deposited into the treasury by our office). The above action was promptly taken by Wokha but the understanding with DC Kohima was that he should also take similar action against Logoswenyu village from his end for violating the territorial space of Yankili village and causing a gun battle. We have not been informed of his action on this. This is at present a dormant issue but I have a hunch that the problem is likely to emerge, once the season for harvest arrives. Instead of waiting for the season to come it is strongly suggested that the two DCs of Wokha and Kohima co-ordinate and sort out a solution, failing which the burden may turn out to be heavy in the later stage. Other than this, we have no Law and Order problem.UG FACTOR: At the outset, a meeting was set up with the IM battalion commander, Col. Ram Kathing. The prevalent practice of raising tax from Govt. Establishment, including the GA the DPBF and the VDBF was discussed. He was clearly told that the past system of GA becoming the tax collectors for their set up was not tenable and that I had no intention of upholding this practice. Though he was not too happy with what was said, voicing his view that their task will be made harder, I had stuck to my stand, letting him know that I too have to uphold my duty as much as he had to, his own; That the District Administration would have no legitimacy to administer, if we become the tax collectors. Grudgingly, this policy standard of coexistence was accepted. The Battalion was upgraded to Brigade strength, sometime in September 1998, and now commanded by Brig. Livingstone. Col. Ram Kathing’s Battalion has since been posted to Mokokchung. After his take-over, the same issue of tax came up once more but with the same result. Their Brigade HQS was originally established near Elemyu Village, but on 23rd March 1999, they quietly shifted their HQs to Lalmati area approximately 4 1/2 Kms away from Wokha Village, towards Mokokchung. Not only were too close to the District HQS, but the proximity of their new camp, being located at roughly 2-3 KMs distance from the main highway, created innumerable security hazards and made the Army very jumpy. Both the Administration and the Army raised serious objection to this new development. The issue was taken up at the Monitoring Cell level and was agreed that this camp will be shifted. It has now been re-located near New Lotsu unrecognised Village, in Lotsu Circle. Over a period of time, especially after the new HQs was established, there has been growing signs of mistrust developing between the Army and the IM faction, the only setup operating in Wokha District. One of the problems that has been cropping up of and on, is that Brigadier Livingstone does not station himself regularly at Wokha and has left the day to day management to his Adj. Capt. Hopeson. For instance, recently, the latter had informed CO 24 AR Wokha, that they would be moving towards Doyang sector on a given date and time and wanted the AR surveillance at zero withdrawn. While the CO 24 AR withdrew his men from this area, he did not make too prompt an effort to contact his counterpart CO of JKLI, located at Bhandari. As a result, seven IM boys who were headed towards Doyang that day were arrested along with arms by the JKLI Coy. Stationed at Yikhum village. The IM cadre has been accusing the AR of foul play. The reason given to me by CO 24 AR was that the Army communication network was not compatible with that of their own and it takes time to get message across to them….a bit farfetched. The issue of their release is still pending. The Monitoring Cell representatives, both from the Army and the IM have already reviewed the matter physically recently but the end result of settlement is yet not been made known to the Administration. On this issue, I have made it known to the Addl. Chief Secretary & Commissioner, that the IM boys should not be handed over to the Administration as this would involve registering a case along with weapons in their possession. The IM’s demand is that the arrested be released unconditionally with arms. You can clearly see the position of confrontation if Dist. Administration is brought into the picture. DC will have to be careful on this. The above problem could have been averted had the level of communication and clear understanding at the required responsible level been ironed out between the Army and the IM. The Army feels that the IM is not too honest or forthcoming in their information of intent about their movements within the District, while IM sector does not see the need to do so. In order to ensure that such incidents do not recur, the IM has been duly informed that in future their movement plans being informed to the Army should also be conveyed to the Administration, so that there is no scope left for misunderstandings. The larger issue that needs to be addressed in this matter is that, there should be a Monitoring Group even at Wokha, in the like manner of some other Districts. The possibility of situation going out of hand cannot be ruled out.
The Govt. Has recently issued an order that all demand notes being received from the UGs should be collected and dispatched to the DGP. The Administration with the help of Sp has been making necessary efforts to round up such demand notes. We have already collected a few. Our general information is that all Heads of Offices have been served with notice by the IM faction to raise 24% of their respective Officer’s and staff’s salary and have it submitted to them. Though the (K) faction has no presence in Wokha, the information indicates that even they have served similar notice, operating from Kohima. My information says that the (K) faction Lotha area Command normally sits at the “Bamboo Shoot Hotel” opposite the NST bus station and carries out their demand operation. Officers are threatened with dire consequences if they come to Kohima without meeting their demands. It apparently has been causing quite a concern in the official circle but none have dared to complain to the Admn. officially or unofficially so far. Both factions therefore, are presumably making their clandestine collections and there is nothing much that the Administration can effectively do to stop this. My personal view on this has more or less been that the business of due respect for individual’s freedom of choice will have to be respected no matter what the circumstances, since the matter of complete security for each individual cannot practically be guaranteed by the Government. These are uncomfortable times for all concerned and we have to learn to live with our wits about us without compromising on principles. This is no ‘push over’ task and I can only wish my successor all the very best on an issue such as this.
(To be continued)
The writer is a retired IAS Officer,
Forest Colony, Kohima.