Guwahati, 05 Feb/2014, Nilim Dutta: Naharjan is the remotest settlement of the Thandapani Forest Village deep inside the Behali Reserved Forest on the remote Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border. Sauldhuwa village where on the afternoon of 29 January 2014, an attack by suspected Arunachal Dafla miscreants had left 14 new settlers, impoverished villagers from Assam, dead in a gruesome massacre.
It is about 2200 Km from the Jantar Mantar at Delhi.
And about 300 Kms from Guwahati, the capital of Assam.
About 50 Kms from the Subdivisional HQ of Biswanath Subdivision of Sonitpur District of Assam. About 5 Km beyond Naharjan was the new settlement of Sauldhuwa which had come up in the past 3-4 months. Impoverished and presumably landless villagers from other areas Sonitpur and even from other districts of Assam were encouraged to settle there by CPI (ML), ostensibly to prevent any further encroachment of land by Arunachali Dafla villagers who have even set up plantations on Assam’s forest land.
On the afternoon of 29 January 2013, armed miscreants suspected to be Dafla villagers and assisted by as yet unidentified armed elements swooped down on the new settlers and massacred them, shooting them down indiscriminately. 14 bodies have been recovered so far. 3 are still missing.
On 4 February 2014, I led a massive border patrol to meet the villagers who had been living there since past 3-4 decades and whose lives have now been endangered by the conflict. Leaving the paved roads, we travelled about 10-12 Kms by dirt roads in the vehicle. Leaving the vehicles, the final 6-7 Km had to be covered on foot marching in single file along a narrow forest trail, on foot.
As I still can’t walk, I covered that stretch mostly being pushed along on a bicycle, and crossing at least 7 streams on the way.