KPLT Factional Clash Kills Two Civilians

In a factional clash between splinter groups of KPLT (Karbi Peoples Liberation Tigers) two civilians died. They were hit by stray bullets, and one other person was severely injured yesterday evening. According to villagers, more than two KPLT cadres also received bullet injuries.

The incident took place in Napak Terang village under Bokajan police station located in a remote area around 5.30 PM. Immediately after receiving information, senior police officers with a large contingent of Assam police, CRPF and Indian Army rushed to the place of the incident and quickly sent the injured persons to Dimapur for treatment, but both died on the way to hospital.

The deceased were identified as Mohen Phangcho(30) and Lalchon Kipgen, and the injured Mangthang Sithou is still undergoing treatment.

According to police, Mohen Phangcho was a truck driver who along with three helpers went to collect river sand. Somewhere nearby, a heated altercation took place between two factions of KPLT, that eventually culminated in an exchange of fire. A large section of well armed cadres ran into the fire fight with the other equally armed KPLT splinter group, and both parties fired indiscriminately targeting each other in obscurity. Caught between cross firing, truck driver Phangcho was hit in the skull while the other deceased received multiple injuries.

Panic stricken villagers ran for cover to a safer distance and informed Bokajan police. Police believe that the clash started in an argument over domination of the area from where sand is extracted in large quantities for selling in Nagaland and Manipur.

In July and August of this year, KPLT splintered into 4 factions, chiefly for power-centric reasons and ideological differences resulting in a proliferation of ragtag groups. Beside extortion and abduction, these groups sometimes fight each other when their common interests conflict. The incident was condemned by Rajen Timung, district head of BJP scheduled tribe morcha. He appealed to KPLT to restrain violence and join the mainstream. Karbi Students Association ( Laichan faction), Kuki National Assembly, Kuki Students Organization denounced the incident and questioned the KPLT on the justification for killing innocent villagers.

The Kuki civil organizations have appealed to the government of Assam to take legal action against the KPLT. Both KSA and Kuki civil organizations demanded compensation of 10 lakhs rupees for the kin of the deceased and adequate reimbursement for the injured.

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.