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The Ethnic Conflicts in Karbi Anglong District, Assam

(With Special Reference to Karbi-Dimasa Conflict, 2005)

Introduction: Karbi Anglong is the largest district among the 27 administrative districts in Assam. Assam in general and Karbi Anglong in particular is the region of different ethnic groups, having different ethnicity, cultures, rituals, traditions, custom, beliefs, languages and legends. Most of them are from Mongoloid stocks. Since 2003, the district was experiencing the ethnic conflicts such as, Karbi-Kuki conflict in 2003, Bihari-Adivasi conflict in July 2005, in August 2005, tension arise between Karbi and Khasi, Karbi-Dimasa conflict in September 2005 and Bodo-Muslim conflict in 2008 and so on. Therefore, the Karbi Anglong district is came to be known as one of the conflict ridden area in Assam. Since 2003, the district was mainly affected by such ethnic conflicts and the most important is the Karbi-Dimasa conflict in 2005, which is the main subject of our present study. I. A brief notes on Karbi Anglong: The Karbi Anglong district was created under the provision of the sixth scheduled of the Indian constitution, with a boundary of 10,434 Sq. Km. Before it was known as the Mikir Hills, but in 1976, this was renamed as Karbi Anglong with its headquarter at Diphu. It has three sub-division; Diphu, Hamren and Bokajan. It is situated in the central part of Assam. The district also enjoys the autonomy with Autonomous District Council under the provision of the sixth scheduled of the Indian constitution. The main constituents tribes are; the Karbis, Dimasa, Rengma-Nagas, Bodo-Kacharis, Tiwas, Khasi-Jaintias, Kukis, Hajongs and also people belong to the Adivasi, Assamese, Bengali, Nepali, Bihari and others. The official language is English, while Assamese, Karbi, Bengali and Hindi are some of the other languages commonly spoken. According to the census of India, 2001, the total population of Karbi Anglong district is 813,311. Most of the people live in villages in remote areas and lack in basic facilities. Therefore, the district is socially and economically in backward position.

II. The Karbi-Dimasa Conflict, 2005: Since 2003, the ethnic conflicts occurred in the Karbi Anglong district, but there was no any history of the main tribes of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills (Dima Hasau) district attacking and killings each other. Such killings and attacking between the two districts occurred when the KarbiDimasa ethnic conflict took place in 2005. The immediate conflict occurred on 26th September 2005, when the three Auto-drivers from Manja belonging to the Dimasa tribes were taken nearby forest and were brutally killed with sharp weapons by unidentified assailants. In reaction to this, on 17th October 2005, 34 Karbis were hacked to death at Charchim in West Karbi Anglong about 25 Km away from the Kheroni Police station. There was also an involvement of armed groups such as, Dima Halam Daogah (DHD), representing the ethnic Dimasa and United Peoples Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), representing the ethnic Karbis. The conflict has a great impact on political, social and economic. III. The Origin and Causes of the Conflict: The immediate causes of the Karbi-Dimasa ethnic conflict was the brutal killings of three Auto-drivers from Manja belonging to the Dimasa tribes by unidentified assailants. But this might not be the main cause of the conflict. The conflict has its origin from various political and administrative developments that took place after independence. The setting up of the Autonomous District Council in 1952, under the provision of the sixth scheduled of the constitution led to the growth of ethnic consciousness, as a result, many political organizations were formed and started their demands, which created real problems in the district. One of these was the demand for a separate state consisting of Karbi Anglong and N.C. Hills made by the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC), under Article 244 (A) of the constitution. But both the central and state government failed to respond to the movement for implementation of the concern Article of the constitution. Taking advantages of that particular Article 244 (A) of the constitution, various political parties and organizations have also started various movements and as a result it created differences amongst people and also given rise to the feelings of agitation and doubt amongst the ethnic communities, which were the reason behind the ethnic conflicts.

Some other factors responsible for the growth of the ethnic conflicts are in the followings: a) The control over land, resources and establishment of homeland based on ethnicity. b) Preservation of their tradition. c) Extremist groups fighting on behalf of their community. d) Protection of territorial boundaries. e) Feelings of becoming minorities in their own land and majorities threatening on minorities. f) The violation of ceasefire agreement by the militants with gruesome killings of innocent people. g) Involvement of the third party. h) The inefficiency and misrule of the Autonomous District Council, and i) The overlapping demand of the territories both by the DHD and the UPDS, is the main causes of the Karbi-Dimasa ethnic conflict in 2005. IV. The Impacts and Consequences of the Conflict: The Karbi-Dimasa ethnic conflict in 2005, has greatly affected the atmosphere of the Karbi Anglong district. Due to this conflict there was violence which resulted in the loss of life and destruction of property belonging to the community concerned. Many people were killed and hundreds of houses were burnt and abandoned. The most victims were the innocent village people. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced from their own home and land, and had to take shelter in several relief camps, schools, colleges and relatives houses. And the victims have no access to proper food, basic shelter and housing, clothing, essential medical services and sanitation. The conflict caused around 75,000 refugees in Karbi Anglong. Even the churches and temples were destroyed and therefore people have no place to worship. The conflict has also resulted in a huge waste of human and economic resources. Agriculture activities were disrupted and important crops were either destroyed or abandoned. Other economic problems are such as, food insecurity, destruction of property, loss of livestock etc. Besides these, many schools or colleges were closed and students were unable to attend school or appeared exam. Some children dropped out of schools and colleges due to financial and socio-economic constraint. Moreover, some children also suffered from mental damage and psychological trauma as a result of horrifying experience.

And one of the important immediate impact of the conflict is, during the conflict the International Human Rights visited the area and the victims, and give report to the government for immediate actions. Conclusion: This paper attempted to deal with the issue of the ethnic conflict in the Karbi Anglong district with special reference to the Karbi-Dimasa ethnic conflict. We may conclude with a view that, people of different ethnic groups have to be conscious about that ethnic conflict doesnt give any profits or developments to the society except destructions. And it is surprising to hear that the immediate cause of the Karbi-Dimasa conflict was unidentified. Even the UPDS claim their non-involvement in killings those three Auto-drivers, therefore there must be an involvement of the third party or political party which led to occurred the conflict in order to break up the unity of the two communities for their political interest.

References: 1. Mangattuthazhe Tom, Violence and Search for Peace in Karbi Anglong, Assam, North-Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati, 2008. 2. DSouza Alphonsus ed., Traditional Method of Conflict Resolution (in three tribal societies of North East India), North Eastern Social Research Centre, Guwahati, 2011.

COURSE NO: 201 (Political Philosophy: The Modern Tradition)


The Ethnic Conflict in the Karbi Anglong District, Assam

(With Special Reference to the Karbi-Dimasa Ethnic Conflict, 2005)

Submitted to: N. Bijen Meetei Assistant Professor Department of Political science Assam University, Silchar.

Submitted by: Name: Lalhluosang Hmar M.A. 2nd Semester Roll No: 1055 Department of Political Science Assam University, Silchar.

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