ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Assam: More Violence

When militants belonging to a breakaway Karbi group targeted poor and largely Hindi-speaking people in the Karbi Anglong district, it drew a sharp, vehement response from the centre, which promised forthwith to send more troops to the area. The violence on the part of the Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills National Liberation Front (KLNLF) was carried out in association with the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). The ULFA’s targeting of vulnerable groups such as Hindi-speaking migrants has since January this year claimed the lives of over 170 people in the lower Assam region. Militancy enacted in collaboration has been one of the hallmarks of militant groups in the north-east, and the ULFA is seeking association with groups in areas where it has had little presence until now. More than a law and order problem, which is the centre’s reading of the recent violence, the confrontation reflects the complex, contradictory political realities in the north-east and in Assam, as well as in the very manner in which the autonomous district councils – in Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills – have been constituted. Not only are interests of political parties with a national presence at stake here, but the boundaries between political entities and militant groups in the region remain fluid, and are frequently changing as well.

Karbi Anglong, a district in southern Assam, has a porous, relatively undefined border with Meghalaya in the west and Assam and Nagaland in the south. The Karbis are dominant in the district, which has however other blocks/villages peopled by different scheduled tribes such as the Dimasas, Bodos, Hmars, etc, as well as minority non-tribals. Conflict between Karbis, who happen to be a minority tribe in the neighbouring North Cachar (NC) Hills district and the Dimasas had led to a violent confrontation in October 2005 between militant groups claiming to represent the two ethnic groups, the United Peoples’ Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) and the Dima Halim Daogah, respectively.

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