A high-level delegation of NC Hills Mahila Suraksha Manch met Union Home Minister P Chidambaram in New Delhi on July 23 and demanded to nab the insurgent groups that are indulging in the killing and burning of houses of Dimasas and Jeme Nagas in NC Hills of Assam. The delegation apprised the Home Minister of the plight of Jeme Naga and Dimasa women who are suffering the most due to the violence.
“Like any tragedy women are the worst sufferers. Whosoever dies or killed, it is the woman who has to ultimately suffer as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, etc. Terrorists have their own nefarious design behind these killings in NC Hills, and the government agencies, instead of dealing with these terrorists with an iron hand are following the instructions of their political bosses. Nobody is serious about our day-by-day deteriorating condition. Our children are not able to attend the school. They are suffering from many diseases in relief camps. We are not secure even in the relief camps. If immediate steps are not taken, we shall have to die without food, as we are not able to look after our farming due to lack of proper security measures. We came to Delhi with a lot of hopes. But looking at the response of the authorities concerned we do not expect much from them,” said Agui Jemi, secretary of the NC Hills Mahila Suraksha Manch.
The 14-member delegation also met Smt Girija Vyas, chairperson of National Commission for Women, Smt Urmila Singh, chairperson of Tribal Commission, several women MPs including Smt Sushma Swaraj, Dr Najma Heptullah, Smt Sumitra Mahajan, Smt Maya Singh, etc. Other members of the delegation included Subhashini Hasani, Asha Sharma, Chitra Joshi, Rekha Raje, Suparna De, Sunita Haldekar, Ajaiv Jemi, Usharani Burman, Sukhi Labandisa, Manisha Rankhol, Tadim Jemi, Manu Kshetri, and Bindu.
“People sitting at higher posts in Delhi appear to be insensitive to our plight. They are not aware of the facts. The Union Home Minister though listened to us very patiently, he promised nothing in the end,” said Sunita Haldekar, a member of the delegation. Besides a memorandum, the delegation also presented many important documents, CDs etc. to the authorities concerned in Delhi.
“We have told the Union Home Minister that it is not an ethnic clash, as is being publicised by a section of the media and some political leaders. This problem should not be looked with this angle. Both Dimasas and Jeme Nagas are indigenous followers (Heraka) and have several common traditions and rituals since 16th century. Inter-marriages between them are permissible. Their well-knit family relations are preserved in their folk tales, folk songs, history and religious practices. But today both the communities are being subjected to a well-planned mis-propaganda, exploitation, political manipulation, allurement of easy money, manmade disasters, etc., every now and then. What the government and the law-enforcing agencies need to do immediately is to find out and punish those who are behind this mis-propaganda and are instigating the violence for their vested interests,” said Subhashini Hasani, president of the Mahila Suraksha Manch. “Various social organisations conducted protest rallies, dharnas and inter-tribal discussions to resolve the problem. Delegations of various social, cultural and political organisations visited the affected areas. Delegations of local communities met various governmental authorities and submitted memorandums, but ultimately the government agencies appear fully helpless,” she alleged.
She said though many social organisations came forward for their help at the relief camps right from the initial stage and distributed foodgrains, pluses, clothes, blankets, domestic utensils, mosquito nets, footwears, medicines and material for temporary shelter, the turmoil has ruined the life of the people, affected by the violence. At present, all educational institutions are closed for many days. Thousands of villagers are taking shelter in various relief camps in a pathetic condition. They are not able to work in their paddy fields. They vacated their villages due to the fear of violence by insurgents, leaving behind their property. Unhygienic condition of camps is affecting the health of children, women and elders. And above all the people of the area are losing confidence in civil administration, law-enforcement agencies, judiciary system and politicians.
“We wish to ask the Union Home Minister, why has not a single culprit been apprehended so far? When and who will arrest the criminals and punish them? When will this bloody game come to an end? For how many days will the people stay in relief camps? Why are government and security agencies not able to control the situation? What is the gain of political parties? Can the possibility of religious conversion be ruled out by taking advantage of the present situation? What will be the future of the student community?” Agui Jemi asked.