Peace panel formed to defuse ethnic tension

Jorhat, Jul 28 : A peace committee has been constituted and security beefed up to defuse ethnic tension and thwart militant attacks along the Golaghat-Karbi Anglong boundary in Assam.

The 30-member peace committee, comprising the tea community, Karbi villagers and officials of Golaghat and Karbi Anglong administrations, was formed in a meeting held at Kohora police outpost a couple of days back.

The committee has decided to hold a public meeting soon to instil peace between the tea community and Karbi villagers.

Ethnic tension had gripped the inter-district bordering areas following the abduction of a tea leader by Karbi militants from Hatikhuli tea estate in Golaghat district about a fortnight back. Hatikhuli is located along the border of the two districts with a part of the estate falling in Karbi Anglong.

The outfit released the abducted person within a couple of days following a threat from the tea community to attack Karbi villages located on the other side of the boundary, but warned the labourers of Hatikhuli to shun work till the management paid up the money demanded by it.
However, the labourers resumed work under security provided by Golaghat district administration, after suspending activities for a day.

A few days ago, militants attacked and injured a woman employee of Hatikhuli tea estate at its Rangajan division, triggering panic among the labourers who approached the Golaghat administration to take the necessary steps. Following this, the peace committee was formed and additional forces were deputed at the garden and the inter-district border.
The Karbi Anglong administration also beefed up security along the border following the attack.
The assistant secretary of the Bokakhat unit of the Assam Tea Tribes Students Association, Anit Gaur, said the tea community had nothing against the Karbi villagers but if Karbi militants continued to target people of the community, the ATTSA would not sit quietly.
“The Karbi villagers should prevail upon the militants not to target tea garden labourers as they are normal people who work hard to earn a living. We have nothing to say about militants demanding money from the garden management but they should not target the labourers,” he said.
Gaur, who is also a member of the peace committee, said they would appeal to Karbi militants not to harm the tea community, as this would only create bad blood between the two communities.
He said normal functioning at the tea estate had also been hampered as the labourers were working under constant fear of militants who might swoop in at any time from across the border.