A scene after Monday’s arson in Manipur’s Kamjong district Credit: EastMojo image

Kohima: Reacting to the recent clashes that erupted in Chassad village of Manipur’s Kamjong district, NSCN-IM commented that the burning down of Chassad village “could have been avoided had the Kukis of Chassad village not taken law and order into their hands”.

A press statement issued by its MIP on Wednesday said that the situation could have avoided had the “Kukis of Chassad village not taken law and order into their hands regarding the burning down of jhum cultivation fields blaming the Kamjong villagers”.

“But, they chose to ignite the fire of communal inferno by resorting to go for offensive against the Tangkhul community of Sampui and Kamjong villages by organising road block between Kamjong and Ukhrul and in the process burned down one Shaktiman truck and newly constructed petrol pump owned by Tangkhuls,” it said.

It alleged that the Chassad villagers were “fully briefed by their authority to prepare themselves for the showdown with the Tangkhul community as the Chassad mob raised the war cry using all abusive and provocative slogans against the Tangkhuls and started pelting stones towards the Tangkhuls passing by the road” where two bystanders were seriously injured. “Under this provocative circumstances, the situation went out of control. And, the Chassad villagers invited retaliation from the Tangkhul community of Kamjong,” the statement read.

It said that bad blood has been brewing between Sampui village and Chassad village because of the false claim of land ownership by the Chassad village chief “bereft of historical and legal support”. Sampui village authority had time and again warned Chassad village authority not to provoke them by claiming the land that never belongs to them but to accept the historical reality that the Kukis were allowed to set up their settlement on humanitarian ground.

To the indignation of Sampui village authority, it claimed that the Chassad village chief published a statement in the local dailies that the stretch of land from Khoika village to Chassad village is under the custodianship of the Chassad village since time immemorial. “It is, however, understood that Chassad village chief is made to go for this false claim under pressure from Kuki underground groups,” it said.

The statement further claimed that there “is ample documentary evidences of the refugee status of Kukis settled in Khoika village and Chassad village” adding that there “is a strong evidence to prove that the settlers of the present Chassad village is one of the nomadic tribes from neighboring Myanmar/Burma that had migrated to the ancestral lands of the Tangkhuls”.

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“This nomadic tribe first settled at Grihang village and shifted to Bungpa village in the year 1919-1920 after the then Manipur state Durbar President L. Peter permitted it on humanitarian ground because Chassad village has no legitimate land for permanent settlement in Tangkhul land” the statement added.

Saying that “the hue and cry raised by Kuki organisations from different places condemning the Tangkhuls or even dragging NSCN into the issue is unfounded” , it concluded that the “community who first ignited the communal fire should be condemned in the strongest term. The truth cannot be hidden. Let us avoid being carried away by one sided observation but be rationale”.

As reported by EastMojo earlier, Tangkhul Naga Long (TNL) president Hopingson A Shimray has said: “I want to clarify this incident for all that it was done by a mob of Kamjong village and not a single NSCN-IM cadre was involved. And this is also clearly known by brothers of Chassad”. He had also appealed the public not to turn the inter-village feud into a communal issue, days after clashes erupted in Manipur’s Kamjong district over a land dispute between Chassad and Sampui villages.

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