Rengmas, non-Karbis for a united Assam
DIMAPUR, JANUARY 16
IN a letter addressed to the Union Home Minister the Rengma Naga Peoples’ Council (RNPC), the apex body of Rengma Nagas in Assam today sought the immediate attention of the Minister to the recent Karbi-Rengma Naga conflict. They have also stated that they wish the National Investigating Agency (NIA)to take over the inquiries into the carnage which began on December 27th 2013, in which atleast eighteen Karbis and Rengmas have died and a couple of thousands sheltered in relief camps.It has also emphatically denied any support the Karbi led Joint Action Committee for Autonomus Statehood (JACAS).The letter states “as the indigenous tribal land owners of Karbi Anglong, the Rengmas along with the 27 other non-Karbi communities of Karbi Anglong oppose the statehood demand of JACAS tooth and nail. Rengmas are not part of the Karbi-dominated JACAS and the 28 non-Karbi communities of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) demand that Karbi Anglong be bifurcated into two, one comprising of Rengma Hills of an area of 8724 sq km which shall be the new autonomous district council of non-Karbi communities with its headquarters at Bokajan.
The RNPC have blamed not only the Karbi militant outfit the the Karbi People’s Liberation Tigers (KPLT) ultras but Karbi mobs from nearby Karbi villages for the carnage on December 27th and 28th , 2013 which killed 6 Rengmas, including five women. All of them died from gunshot wounds, they write in the letter.
The mass exodus of Rengmas resulted in arson of entire villages to ashes. Granaries were not spared nor were their orange orchards and areca nut trees (the main economic activity of Rengma Nagas), and slaughtering of domesticated animals and fowls, the letter detailed.
The letter decried the theory of a “third force”orchestrating trouble in the district after the discovery of nine bodies of Karbis in Dimapur, Nagaland on January 3, 2014. The letter states “however, the discovery of 9 Karbi bodies in Dimapur, Nagaland on 3 Jan, 2014, and the subsequent Naga Rengma Hills Protection Force (RNHPF), a local volunteer force formed to protect innocent Rengma villagers from KPLT militants, owning responsibility for the killings and the hue and cry created by Karbi civil society that a ‘third force’ is responsible for the mayhem in both Assam and neighbouring Nagaland has relegated the genuine suffering and grievances of the Rengma Nagas of Karbi Anglong to the background.”
RNPC says implicit in the theory of ‘third force’ is the denial that neither Karbi civilians nor the KPLT are responsible but that certain elements are out to chase the Rengmas from their homeland with a view to sabotage the JACAS (Joint Action Committee for Autonomous State) statehood demand.
The Karbi civil society fearing JACAS agitation falling by the wayside has accused ‘third forces’ of orchestrating trouble in Karbi Anglong since 2003, thus directly absolving Karbi militants of any hand in ethnic clashes in Karbi Anglong since 2003.
The letter also said the Karbi accusation of NSCN (IM) orchestrating trouble in Rengma Hills, Assam, needs to be investigated since it relegates the sufferings of Rengmas and its decades old agitation for political identity to the sidelines. Therefore, only the National Investigation Agency (NIA) probe should be able to expose the ethnic cleansing in Rengma Hills, Karbi Anglong, Assam as well as the killings in Dimapur and the RNPC demands such a probe immediately.
RNPC says Rengmas have made their political stand clear on 4th Jan 2014 which is independent of any demand by any entity, including the NSCN (IM)’s Greater Nagaland demand. They have urged the Indian government through the Home Minster to protect its minorities and negotiate with the 28 non-Karbi communities willing to live under a united Assam state.