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ASSAM 2006

Amid the violence of statehood, a craving for peace

Sunday 9 April 2006, by TALUKDAR*Sushanta

It is the ordinary Karbis and Dimasas who have suffered because of the mayhem

"I solemnly declare that I shall dedicate myself to strive, through thick and thin, for the creation of an autonomous state for Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills till the end. I further declare that I shall not be lured by bribes or opportunism nor be disheartened by threat or intimidation till the autonomous State is created by the Government of India." This is the oath Karbi leaders took in English and in the Karbi language on June 20, 1986, at a rally held at this headquarters town in central Assam’s Karbi Anglong hill district.

Twenty years later, it is time for Karbi and Diamasa politicians to renew their pledge as they vie for electoral supremacy in Karbi Anglong and North Cachar hills.

Thousands of Karbis and Dimasas have been displaced due to violence between the Karbi militant outfit, United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), and the Dimasa group, Dima Halam Daogah. The clashes claimed 103 lives and rendered more than 75,000 homeless in October-November last.

"The Congress stand on the issue is very clear. We have been demanding the creation of an autonomous State but we are also for utilising the powers that we get till statehood is achieved. The CPI-ML and the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) have betrayed the people by reaching an understanding for more autonomy and compromised the cause of the movement," said Bidyasing Ingleng of the Congress, who is seeking re-election from Diphu.

CPI-ML leader Jayanta Rongpi said, "If the Congress is sincere about the cause, what is stopping it from creating an autonomous State? They have Governments in Delhi, Dispur and also in Diphu."

Temporary arrangement

The ASDC also echoed Dr. Rongpi’s allegations against the Congress. "Although we signed the MoU with Delhi and Dispur for more powers to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council, we agreed to it only as a temporary arrangement," said Chomang Kro of the ASDC.

"The UPDS has been demanding a separate State for the Karbis that includes areas inhabited by the Dimasas. The DHD has been demanding a separate State of Dimaraji that includes areas of Karbi Anglong. As they have been trying to establish supremacy over the demanded territories, ordinary Karbi and Dimasa villagers have suffered the most. In the past, the Karbis and the Dimasas never fought each other. But today we are afraid to go to each other’s village," said Paresh Bey, who lives in the Baghmari relief camp in Diphu. He said the 2,690 inmates had not been provided rations by the authorities for the past month.

The feelings were echoed by Deben Maibongsha, who lives in a Dimasa relief camp near Manja.

For the victims of violence, peace may take preference over Statehood when they cast their votes on April 10.

See online : The Hindu

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