Indefinite Bandh Called by NCHIPF Lifted

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Suroj Barman
HAFLONG, Feb 12: Several bandh supporters including women were injured in a clash with police at Haflong after some mob vandalised a government office near North Cachar Hill Autonomous Council (NCHAC) in Haflong amid the ongoing indefinite bandh called by the North Cachar Hill Indigenous People’s Forum (IPF) in Dima Hasao district from Tuesday 5 am.

The bandh affected only in Haflong and Mahur while everything was normal in Harangajao and other parts of the district.

Police have arrested working president of the organisation Samsuldimbe Jeme and North Cachar Hill Indigenious Students’ Forum president David Keivom and several other activists. The bandh was lifted in the later part of the day following an invitation by the state government to discuss on the forum’s demand scheduled to be held on 17th February. The arrested leaders were also released after withdrawal of the bandh.

The forum had called the bandh seeking implementation of a task force’s recommendation on bifurcation of the hill district.

“The Assam government in 2010 constituted the task force under the chairmanship of former state chief secretary P.P. Verma to examine the recommendations of the Group of Ministers’ Committee. The task force submitted its report to the state on November 16, 2011, suggesting the creation of a separate autonomous district for the non-Dimasa people,” the forum’s press release said.

“The Dimasas can’t maintain a cordial relationship with the non-Dimasas. The Dimasas waged ethnic clashes against them thrice between 2003 and 2009 to dislodge the non-Dimasa populace from the district,” it added. “The non-Dimasas have been facing an identity crisis since the name of North Cachar Hills was changed to Dima Hasao in 2010. They are being treated as second-class citizens in their ancestral land,” the release further stated.

Meanwhile seven Dimasa organizations have issued a statement opposing the bandh saying it will affect the ongoing HSLC and HS examinations 2020 and the common people of the hill district as a whole.

“We would like to warn the leaders of IPF to take back their words with an apology for giving extremely provocative and communal statements defaming Dimasa community which will bring communal disharmony in the district,” the statement said.

Clashes between bandh supporters and people opposing the bandh were reported in several parts of the town following which police used tear gas and lathi charged to disperse the crowd where several people were injured. Other unknown group pelted stones at the residence of the forum’s president and also tried to vandalize the forum’s office.

Bandh supporters also torched official vehicle of divisional forest officer (West), Romen Das and also pelted stones police vehicles and others. The district administration continues clamping of the CrPc 144 and security forces are patrolling round the street.