Attention Chief Minister Sir, Nagaland is encroaching on Jessami
Source: The Sangai Express

Jessami (Ukhrul), October 05 2009: Although the neighbouring Nagaland Government has encroached on the land of Jessami under Chingai Block of Ukhrul district and set up a post for its armed police personnel and constructed a rest house and fishermen's rest centre, the hapless unarmed Manipur police have not been able to do anything to stop these activities.

The people of Jessami have strongly objected to the encroachment, but at the same time they are left wondering what the Government of Manipur has been doing.

Talking to The Sangai Express in this connection, Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul district N Ashok Kumar has, however, assured that in order to take up appropriate action against the setting up of a police station on the soil of Manipur, the State Government would be writing to its Nagaland counterpart.

The activities of the Nagaland Government on the land of Jessami came to light during a joint inspection visit by members of Information Centre for Hill Areas of Manipur (ICHAM), Tangkhul Youth Council, Raphei Students' Association and mediapersons from October 1 to 3. After the proper demarcation of the boundary between Manipur and Nagaland in 1970, under some mutual agreement on the traditional village boundaries, villagers on either side of the boundary divide have been crossing over to each others' side to continue agricultural activities like plantation of rice, vegetables and fruits.

Nagaland police outpost (top) and Nagaland and rest house (bottom) set up on Jessami soil

At the time of demarcating the boundary of the two neighbouring States, it had been agreed that Challou and Teju rivers, which are running between Jessami in Manipur and Mellorie in Nagaland, would be the demarcating point.

Inspite of that the villagers of the two border villages continue to involve in border dispute over alleged inclusion or exclusion of land every now and then.

To settle the matter and in recognition of the traditional boundary of the two villages located along National Highway 150, villagers from Jessami can crossover to Mellorie to continue with their agricultural activities and similarly the villagers of Mellorie can also cross over to Jessami for similar purposes.

However, villagers of Jessami are not allowed to bring back their agricultural products by the Nagaland Village Guards and villagers of Mellorie.

When the joint inspection team visited Teju river, it was noticed that the Nagaland Government has constructed fishermen rest house and a rest house near Agash bridge on the Manipur side of the boundary apart from the agricultural and plantation works being taken up over an area of 50 hectares by the villagers of Mellorie on the Manipur side of Challou river.

The joint team also came across a post of the 5th Nagaland Armed Police set up atop the Tebunomelu hillock of Jessami, which is located at the end of the vast expanse of the scenic paddy field.

According to chairman of Jessami Village Authority, Kawi Wezakh, the post of the Nagaland armed police was set up around 4 months back and at that time the village authority had reported the matter to the Deputy Commissioner of Ukhrul district.

Questioning what the Government of Manipur has been doing to stop the activities of the Nagaland Government on Jessami land, Wezakh pointed out that apart from officials of civil administration and police, Ministers of Nagaland Government have been coming to visit the area but in case of Manipur Government no one have come.

Even the Deputy Commissioner send a Lambu instead of coming down himself, he lamented.

Stating ''We would not part an inch of our land'', the chairman informed that at the time of border dispute between the two neighbouring villages, the Nagaland Government utilised the service of its village guards and armed police to allow the villagers of Mellorie to carry on their agricultural activities.

"However, in our case, the police are unarmed.

So what do we do ?'', he questioned.

Resenting the conduct of the Nagaland Government, the villagers of Jessami have demanded the Government of Manipur to recruit Village Defence Force (VDF) volunteers, deployment of State force and to equip them with necessary arms.

When the inspection team visited Jessami Police Station, the entire complex was found with tall grasses growing all over.

The Officer in-Charge of the police station could not be met as he had gone to Imphal.

Out of the required total strength of 15 personnel in the said police station, only six of them were present as the rest have been attached to the district headquarters.

Interestingly, it also came to light that inspite of frequent border dispute and clashes, the police station has not registered any case dispute and clashes, the police station had not registered any cases and did not report anything about setting up of a post of the armed police personnel of Nagaland on the land of Jessami.

Interacting with the visiting team, the police personnel who were at the police station, disclosed that there is no arms and vehicle for them.

So they could do nothing but to watch when the armed police personnel of Nagaland descended at Jessami Bazar and beat up the local people.

As there is no necessary infrastructure for communication, the two wireless sets of the police station are also being kept at the post of Assam Rifles.

The police personnel also disclosed that BSF used to stay at the newly opened post of the Nagaland armed police.

The most surprising fact that came to light during the visit is that Nagaland Govt has been providing electricity to the people of Jassami and collecting taxes from them.

To bring about better administration of the border village comprising 500 households with a total population of 3000 people, villagers of Jessami have fervently appealed to Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh to implement the assurance of upgrading the existing SDC office to SDO at the earliest possible.