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Assam MLA, media persons face firing during visit to a village in Nagaland border

Assam MLA, media persons face firing during visit to a village in Nagaland border

Jorhat (Assam), May 27: Miscreants and alleged land encroachers from Nagaland fired at Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi, his security team and a group of journalists from Assam when they went to visit a village in Dessoi Valley forest in Jorhat district on Thursday, but no one was hurt.

Expressing deep concern over the incident, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma ordered Special DGP (Law and Order) Gyanendra Pratap Singh to rush to the spot and carry out a detailed investigation into the matter. The opposition Congress blamed inaction of Assam government for the development and doubted that "suspected Nagaland Police personnel" were behind the incident of firing. The disputed area falls between Bongaon and Sonapur villages in Dessoi Valley Reserve Forest under Mariani police station of Jorhat district and Changki village under Mangkolemba circle of Mokokchung district of Nagaland, official sources said.

According to officials, the local MLA, his security team, a few additional personnel from an Assam police battalion and a group of local journalists visited a village inside the dessoi valley reserve forest following media reports that people from Nagaland have encroached Assam land. "When Kurmi and the team were approaching, the miscreants fired at air to prevent them from approaching the site. As they did not stop, then the people from Nagaland fired several rounds aiming at Kurmi and others. Luckily, the bullets did not hit them," they said.

Seeing their aggressive nature and not taking any risk, the entire team retreated and ran for safety, an official said. The videos of the journalists capturing the entire episode, including the shooting incident and fleeing the place for safety, are being telecast by local TV channels and have gone viral. When contacted, Kurmi told PTI, "The media reported about three days ago that Naga people encroached forest land, cut trees, built houses and installed solar panels. Local Assamese villagers said the SP Jorhat visited, but did nothing."

The MLA said he came to see the development himself and brought along the media as the land belonged to Assam. "As soon as they saw us, they started firing. I would have become a martyr today had my luck not favoured me! The government must protect Assam land," Kurmi said. The MLA from Mariani constituency gave an ultimatum of 40 hours to the Assam government to free the land from the encroaches of the neighbouring state, otherwise he will start an indefinite hunger strike at the site.

Kurmi also said that DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta and Political Secretary to Chief Minister Jayanta Malla Baruah spoke to him, and they were informed about the panic situation prevailing in the area. The Chief Minister expressed concern over the firing incident at the New Sonowal Border Outpost (BOP) at Assam-Nagaland inter-state border. He termed the incident as unfortunate, which can jeopardise the relation between the two neighbouring states, and directed the Special DGP to travel to the site of the incident and conduct an inquiry.

Condemning the incident, Leader of the Congress Legislature Party Debabrata Saikia said the firing incident was carried out by "suspected Nagaland police personnel". "People from Nagaland have been encroaching Assam land for a long time. I also visited many such sites and submitted a report to the government, which did nothing. "Due to their inaction, today's incident took place. I urge the Assam government to free our land strictly," he added.

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