TO HIS EXCELLENCY
DR A. P. J. ABDUL KALAM
THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA
BY THE AUTONOMOUS STATE DEMAND COMMITTEE (ASDC),
HQ DIPHU, KARBI ANGLONG, ASSAM
ON THE 21ST OCTOBER 2005
On behalf of the people of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills, we extend to you our warm greetings and sincerely thank you for Your Excellency’s gracious generosity to meet us and listen to our supplication.
Karbi Anglong and NC Hills are the two hill areas of Assam inhabited by the Karbis and the Dimasa tribes respectively besides other smaller ethnic tribes and non-tribal communities. The Karbis are a major tribe of the North East and their population is as large as the Garos, or the Khasis or the Mizos. The Karbis and the Dimasas are natural political allies and have co-existed in peaceful harmony for generations.
The two hill areas have remained the most alienated, the most neglected and the most backward. But they are the richest of all the hills of the North-East in terms of agricultural, mineral and water resources.
Due to utter neglect, unrestrained infiltration and rampant exploitation, the Karbis and the Dimasas are facing threat to their very existence and have been forced to seek self-determination of their own destiny within the framework of the Constitution of India.
The growing political consciousness of the tribal people and the awareness about their pathetic socio-economic conditions, as compared to the level of development surrounding them, have given way to diverse and tribe-specific political movements, including armed insurgency. Amidst such diversity of insurgent groups with their obvious contrariety of demands, both intra-tribe and inter-tribe contradictions are bound to develop, and the entire two hills became a powder-keg that could explode under the slightest provocation.
Since early 2003, every year, the two hills have been subjected to repeated ethnic clashes which have left a trail of physical and emotional devastation and loss of hundreds of human lives. The first was the clash between the Dimasas and the Hmars (April 2003) and then the clash between the Karbis and the Kukis (October 2003) and the Khasis (November 2003) followed. Therefore the present clash between the Karbis and the Dimasas is not an isolated case, being part of a strange pattern.
The sudden occurrence of the present clash since the 26th of September has left the two hills numbed and bleeding. During the past 26 days, 87 innocent men, women and children have lost their lives (as per official statistics) with many more unaccounted for in far-flung areas, and over fifty thousands have been rendered homeless as their homes have been burnt to ashes. Apart from the loss of lives and property, there is the massive task of emotional, infrastructural and economic rehabilitation of the shaken and traumatized victims. This is our appeal to the Nation through Your Excellency’s good offices to help rebuild the lives of the Karbis and the Dimasas who now live under tragic circumstances.
The crux of the matter is the callous manner in which the government is dealing with the political problems of the two hill areas. Without understanding local sentiments the government has taken certain actions which have been proved counterproductive. For instance, the setting up of an ‘unguarded designated camp’ of the Dima Halam Daoga or DHD in short (a Dimasa armed extremist outfit under ceasefire with the government since 2003) at Dhansiri (a small Dimasa-dominated settlement in Karbi Anglong bordering Dimapur, Nagaland ) has turned out to be a serious bone of contention which created social tension in that area during the past three years and have provided fodder for the present ethnic catastrophe in the two hills. There is an urgent need to remove the camp to prevent future occurrence of the present crisis.
There is also an urgent need to understand the social, economic and political problems of the two hills in order to provide lasting solution. For that the appointment of a ‘House Committee of the Parliament’ is urgently called for to probe and resolve the various socio-economic complexities and political demandsof the hill people. As the demand of the hill people for Statehood for the past 19 years continues to be ignored and the overall welfare of the hill people remaining in the distant periphery of Assam’s consciousness, the two hills are being pushed deeper into social crisis that is dangerously mutating into ethnic bigotry. We humbly seek Your Excellency’s urgent intervention so as to ease the tension prevailing in the hills and to establish lasting peace in the two hills of Assam.
Your most humble citizens —
(Dharamsing Teron, MLA) (Elwin Teron, MAC)
On behalf of the Autonomous State Demand Committee