RHSC records trail of destruction in villages
Dimapur, February 8
Rengma Hills Support Centre (RHSC) today alleged that the Karbi Anglong Automous Council (KAAC) was responsible for the genesis of the ethnic clash between the two tribal communities and attributed as a part of their game plan to wipe out the Rengmas from homeland. RHSC convenor, K Thong, has termed KAAC as ‘Autonomous Land Grabbing Council’ and not autonomous council of the tribal people as the latter had totally failed to fulfill constitutional purpose of the tribal autonomy. It said KAAC deserves a trial and face penalty for grossly violating the Constitution of India and looting the indigenous people for over 64 years.
The statement was issued following a spot verification by a ten-member team of observers comprising RHSC convener, K Thong, secretary Kechum Nyenthang, convenor of Rengma Naga Peoples Council (RNPC) Dr. Kenilo Kath and secretary and other six members namely Hyusin thyu, Anilo Khing , Kenyuseng Rengma, Gwasheng Rengma, A Rengma and Joana Marcowitz (American free lance journalist from New York) to assess the situation on January 24 and 25.
It stated that the security forces did not want to take risk to permit the American journalist to enter the Rengma burnt down villages in the dense forest for which the team of observers had to wait for about a week in Silonijan. The team witnessed the bad conditions of roads leading to the Rengma villages.
On the first day, the team visited Choginlashonyu (Shathi) a distance of about 30 kms, Guzenlanyu (Khowanyi) about 40 kms, and Nkhenlari (khanari) 45 kms from Silonijan – Phentsero route. A villager, who was present at the village with CRPF personnel, the KPLT and Karbi villagers came to attack Nkhenlari village on December 26, 2013, but retreated when three of the KPLT cadres were shot dead. He said Karbi villagers had burned down the gathered paddies in the terrace fields.
BR Chaudhury, Assistant Commandant of the CRPF posted there on patrolling duty, commented, ‘This cannot be called a road, this is a river.” It said all the houses were razed to ashes at Choginlashonyu and nothing could be saved as the heavily armed KPLT militants accompanied with some hundred villagers suddenly attacked the unaware Rengma village. Gwasheng, a youth of this village, said some Karbis threw poison into his fishery pond last year which killed all the fishes and that he had to release the water and emptied the pond. His laptop computer was also burnt inside his burnt house. The first village to be razed down ashes was Guzenlanyu (Khowanyi) village and the first house to be burnt down was the GBs house where his wife was shot dead in the morning of December 27, 2013.
According to a youth of the village, grenades were repeatedly thrown into various rooms of half wall house to make sure that no one would escape and the two women hiding inside and the roof and the upper wall were blown off in the air. It has expressed dismay to see electric posts, cables and transformer in Lokhiram, a Karbi village which is the closest village to Phentsero, while non Rengma villages are electrified.
A youth stated that KPLT opened fired at the primary school building at Ridongunyu village, about 35 kms away from Silonijan, and the bullets found were identified to be that of government supplied ones which led to suspect involvement of the KAAC and Karbi politicians.
On February 5, the team of observers visited Tseguchonri, the last village situated on the other range about 26 kms from Chokihola. The government has already begun road construction nearly reaching the village and for which fund has been sanctioned by the Governor of Assam. It was said the permanent security post is to be erected there.
Altogether 39 houses and granaries and crops were burnt down including prayer house. Rengma houses were burnt down at Panjan Lekthe. Nothing could be saved as the villagers ran for their lives into the jungle. Many domestic animals were lost. Orange and betel farms were destroyed. Some villagers alleged that kerosene used by KPLT and Karbi villagers was supplied by KAAC members. The total number of houses burnt in each village could be assessed as all the villagers were presently staying in the relief camp. It was informed that about 270 houses were burnt to ashes.
It also alleged that KAAC had unconstitutionally allotted land pattas to Karbis belonging to Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and other districts of Assam and established villages very close to Rengma villages with an intention to grab land by kicking out the Rengmas in total disregard of Rengmas legitimate landownership rights and stationed militants in the vicinity of their villages. It said stationed of militants was one of the major circumstances leading to aggression and attack. The worse was the attitude of KAAC preventing the Rengmas from utilizing their land.
It further quoted remarks of JB Patnaik on Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) in 2009, who said ‘there is no decentralization of powers and administration in the Sixth Scheduled areas. There is no panchayat and parishad. All you have is only a district council, which elects few people and they enjoy unbridled powers. But democracy demands that power should not be concentrated at a few hands. This has defeated the purpose of the Constitutional provision. The areas continue to be backward while there has been no end to the corruption.’ RHSC said KAAC has misused its powers and exploited the Rengmas.