GUWAHATI, Sept 3 � A discussion on the theme of Assam-Nagaland border conflict was organised by the Omeo Kumar Das Institute of Social Change and Development on August 29 as part of its monthly discussion forum titled as the OKD-Dialogue.
Initiating the discussion, Samudra Gupta Kashyap, Assistant Editor, Indian Express, recounted his childhood experiences of living in a village located close to the Naga Hills. He remembered how the Nagas came down into the plains to sell their products, particularly broom, limestone and cinnamon. Due to the frequent visits of the Nagas and their lasting relationships with the Assamese villages, many places were named with the prefix �Naga� like �Nagamati�.
He deplored the fact that in spite of having a close relationship between the communities across the borders for ages, there grew mistrust and suspicion due to the insensitive handling of the border issue by the respective governments of both the States. He was also very critical of the role of the media that has sensationalised the border row. He pointed out that most of the Guwahati-based media houses do not have permanent correspondents in other States of the Northeast resulting in the non-representation of the their side of the story.
Gleaning from his myriad of experiences in working in the Assam-Nagaland border areas in different capacities, Haresh Chandra Dutta, Director, Assam Science Technology and Environment Council (ASTEC) emphasised upon understanding the ethnographic reality of the people living along the borders. He also gave a clear cartographic representation of the Assam-Nagaland border areas through different satellite images and the demographic realities along the borders.
Giving a portrait of the conflict along the borders, Devojit Phukan, Assistant Professor of Debraj Roy College, Golaghat, on the other hand, recounted the historical trajectory of the dispute. According to him, the vagueness on the part of the Government of India on the issue of boundary demarcation since the creation of the separate State of Nagaland in 1963, the border dispute has sustained with violent manifestations.
Taking note of the recent violence in some of the border villages, he drew attention to the fact that the incident was triggered off by a very trivial incident of a negligible incident of scuffle between two individuals. He pointed out two major factors contributing to the exacerbation of the situation, namely the abdication of responsibilities on the part of the administration and instigative role played by the electronic media.
Sushanta Talukdar, Senior Assistant Editor of The Hindu, on the other hand, made a comparison of the accounts of the violence as represented in media of both the States. He showed it quite concisely how the claims made by the media of the respective States gave only a partial picture of the situation blurring the truth completely. Finally, he stressed upon the need of a proactive role on the part the Government of India in resolving the longstanding issue of boundary demarcation. Other participants also took part in the deliberation and pointed out some other facets of the conflict.
The Dialogue was moderated by Prof Bhupen Sarmah, Director of the institute. In his concluding remarks, he emphasised on the need of an objective analysis of the dispute and to create an informed public debate on the issue.