DIMAPUR, Jan 4 � A week into the aftermath of the violent attack on Rengma Nagas on December 27 in Karbi Anglong district of Assam, the number of refugees continues to grow in Borpathar High School and nearby buildings under Santipur Police Station.
The rise in the number of refugees by the day, at least 824 villagers as on Friday, is proportionate to the confusion and uncertainty that consumes the displaced and terrorised villagers each passing day.
On December 28 last, a day after the incident in which suspected Karbi People�s Liberation Tiger (KPLT) militants killed four Rengma Nagas and burnt down their villages, newspaper reports had put the number of refugees at 205. The incident was also called as �sinister designs of ethnic cleansing� by Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
On Thursday, the displaced villagers camped at Santipur were concerned about �peace in the area� in the days to come and the possibilities of co-existence, once again. The formation of �peace committees�, to facilitate conducive atmosphere for peaceful co-existence between different communities, in the past have drawn a blank, lamented Barnobas Rengma.
A native of Panjan village, and displaced following the latest incident, the 57-year-old Barnobas said, �While the peace committee was being formed, they (perpetrators) sneaked into our villages and killed our people, burnt our villages.
�Now, they are forming another peace committee. But there is no meaning in constituting a peace committee after the first one had failed. We don�t understand how they can think of bringing peace, while they are resorting to violence like this,� he said.
Rengma, however, explained that the Rengma people were in no way advocating or even contemplating violent retaliation. �Our people have been killed, villages and granaries reduced to ashes but till today we have not reacted violently against anyone. And we will never do so.�
He said that their only concern was how would they ever get back to their lost homes and reconstruct their already fractured lives, torn apart on the night of December 27 last.
Rengma also narrated that the trouble had started way back in June last year �when the Karbi militants asked the Rengma Nagas to leave their respective villages.� The subsequent exodus of the Rengma Nagas had resulted in the formation of the �Peace Committee which negotiated and settled the issue.�
The brokered �peace� lasted only till mid-November. On November 16 last, according to Rengma, suspected Karbi militants assaulted Rengma Nagas and even warned them that the Rengmas would be held responsible �if the army comes to the village.�
�The situation remained tense ever after and then the Rengmas were attacked, their houses and granaries burned down. There was a relaxation during Christmas, but after Christmas on December 27, villagers were attacked resulting in the killing of three persons, while houses and granaries were burnt down,� he recounted.
Rengma said they had even sought security for the villagers by approaching the Karbi Anglong administration but to no avail. �Now, sending troops after everything has been burnt and lost has no meaning,� he felt.