Tribals on fast-unto-death Dimasas demand protection

Tribals on fast-unto-death
Silchar July 16 : Fifteen Dimasa tribal refugees, under the aegis of the Marxist Cachar Krishak Mahasamiti, began a fast-unto-death at their makeshift camps in Kumacherra today seeking installation of an army camp there to thwart Naga militant attacks.
The general secretary of the samiti’s Cachar unit, Sripati Dhar, said the Dimasa volunteers had no alternative but to organise the fast-unto-death in their makeshift camps in Kumacherra, about 55km from here. According to Dhar, they are long-time residents of Kalinagar village in Lakhipur subdivision of Cachar along the boundary the district shares with NC Hills. They were driven out of their homes at the height of the ethnic conflict and insurgency of DHD (J) and the armed Naga militants in the district this April.
“Time and again the armed NSCN (I-M) rebels demanded cash. They also harassed the peace-loving Dimasas there by demanding food during their periodic stay in the houses of the Dimasas,” Biresh Barman, 40, the leader of a 200-strong group of Dimasa villagers, said.
Fed up with extortion notes, they finally moved to Kumacherra in early April, abandoning their homes in Kalinagar.
They have built up their dwellings using only bamboos and thatch.
Their desertion came amid insurgent attacks and ethnic clashes between the Dimasas and the Zeme Nagas, leading to killings and torching of houses.
Birendra Barman, another Dimasa refugee in Cachar, said they sometimes went to the farms they had abandoned in Kalinagar as cultivation was their only source of income.
But the fear of the Nagas, he said, still loomed large, prompting them to demand army pickets near their houses in Kumacherra in the foothills of the Borail range.
Sources in Lakhipur subdivision administration confirmed that they had received the Dimasa refugees’ petition.
They said the administration was in touch with the army and security forces for setting up one of their camps at Kumacherra, where the Naga insurgents shot dead four Bengalis three years ago.
According to an army officer, the contingents of the 72 Field Regiment sometimes carry out patrolling in the Kumacherra area to instil confidence in the villagers.
He, however, ruled out posting an army picket there because of accommodation and logistic constraints.