Rengma Nagas Flee Ancestral Land

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More than a hundred men, women and children of the Rengma Naga community have taken refuge in the Chokihola church in eastern Karbi Anglong, since yesterday, leaving behind their homes and cultivation. They fled after the threat issued by Karbi ultra outfit KPLT( Karbi Peoples Liberation Tiger) to the Rengma village head man, demanding he hand over all cadres of the Naga Rengma Hills Protection Force (NRHPF) along with arms and ammunition. The militant group demanded a complete surrender on or before June 9.

On July 9th Western Rengma, Gaon Buraha, pastors and public leaders were summoned by KLPT on June 9 at Nakoitiso village, near Tseguchangri, a Rengma village and reportedly forced to sign an ultimatum at “gun point.” The incident was reported by A.J. Rengma Western Rengma People’s Organization, Assam (WRPOA) president to the media. KLPT also warned the Rengmas not to engage in any cultivation work and that those who decided to stay back would face the consequences.

“We have not received any help from the government or the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council yet, but local congress leaders have extended some humanitarian aid. We have escaped from our villages because we cannot comply with the KPLT demand which our elders have agreed under threat at gunpoint. We are expecting serious trouble,” said an resident of the relief center.

Inhabitants of village Borlangso Jamre Basti, Khirang Bast and Socheng Longri have left their ancestral land and have taken refuge near Chokihola police station for protection. The Rengma community lived in that locality since the eighteenth century.

Oranges are the chief cash crop of the Rengma Naga in that locality, but due to lack of modern facilities of horticulture, marketing earns very little. The locality is a cluster of 21 villages in the valley of the fast flowing river Koliani which is the lifeline of the villagers in absence of any road communication. The whole area is disadvantaged from the basic amenities like health, education, power and minimum source of income; although the locality comes under the jurisdiction of Nilip development block, people of the Rangma region practically lead a primitive life.

At the time of filing this report, no untoward incident has taken place. The local police are maintaining a round the clock vigil over the relief center.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.