From Jorhat in Upper Assam bordering Nagaland, it takes almost 18 hours to reach Dan village along the Indo-Myanmar border. Negotiating rough roads, hostile terrains and travelling through Mokakchung, Tuensang and Noklak districts, News18 reached Dan village after covering a distance of 260 km.
Reason: The massive peace rally by people from five villages in the area on September 15.
‘Public Rally for Peace and Development’ read the banner of the rally, demanding peace for development and not development for war. Men and women in their Naga tribal attire walked for miles along the meandering hill road to make their voices heard.
“We all know that over the past decade Dan has been caught in the crossfire, which has not only impeded our chance for growth, but also portrayed a grim picture of our land. We do not want firing incidents in our area anymore. The International Trade Centre built in Dan by S.C Jamir has literally turned into a firing centre. The building, riddled by bullets, is damaged. Exchange of bullets and militancy have turned our land into a warfield,” said Hime Lam, President, All Pangsha Students’ Union.
In August, suspected militants fired at Assam Rifles jawans in Nagaland’s Noklak district. The incident between suspected militants and Assam Rifles personnel took place at Dan Pangsha area, while the troops were undertaking patrolling activities in view of the heightened vigil for the forthcoming Independence Day.
“The citizens of Pangsha and the government of Nagaland has created ITC Dan as a major trading hub for exchange of social cultural heritage with Myanmar, not as a battleground,” said The Wolam Nyukyan (New Pangsha) Students’ Union (WNYSU). “Such incidents destroy the peaceful existence environment and put innocent public at fear.”
Dan village is located in Noklak circle of Tuensang district in Nagaland, India. Situated 35km away from sub-district headquarter Noklak (tehsildar office) and 91km away from district headquarter Tuensang, it has a total population of 636, of which 371 are men. There are about 122 houses in Dan village.
However, on the day of the rally, villagers from DAN ITC, Pangsha, Phangsha Old and Wangthan participated in the rally.
The area is dominated by NSCN (K) and ULFA (I) militants.
“In 2015, we lost eight people. We are always caught between the security forces and militants,” said Shingnya, President of Pangsha Public Organization.
Dan is dominated by the Khiamniungan tribe, and the tribes are also found on the fringe villages of Myanmar. There are around 146 Naga villages in Myanmar.
The Khiamniungan tribe is one of the major tribes among the Nagas, with habitation both in India and Myanmar. Geographically, the land of Khiamniungans is located in the Eastern part of Nagaland and in the North-Western part of Myanmar.
Meanwhile, a delegation of NSCN (IM) has left for New Delhi to resume talks with the Central Government on the possible peace pact.
With inputs from Gautam Borah