Tension brewing in Hime after Assam side reneges on status quo

[ Amar Sangno ]
ITANAGAR, Jun 6: The situation in Hime village along the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam boundary in Kangku circle of Lower Siang district is reportedly turning volatile after villagers from the Assam side repeatedly carried out road construction work in Arunachal territory there with police and paramilitary protection.
Sources in Hime informed The Arunachal Times that more than a hundred paramilitary personnel are stationed along the boundary and guarding the villagers of Assam who were illegally constructing a road inside Arunachal.
The encroachment was first reported on 19 May, when an Assam-based construction company illegally carried out construction work by dumping sand on wet-rice cultivation (WRC) land that belongs to 10 households inside Arunachal territory. The road has been sanctioned under the Missing Autonomous Council (MAC).
However, following the intervention of the district administrations of Assam and Arunachal, both sides had agreed to maintain the status quo on their respective sides. This was followed by a few days without any activity in the area.
“For a few days there were no activities at the site, but after paramilitary forces started camping there, the villagers and their machineries resumed the construction work,” said a villager who did not want to be named.
“We could not photograph or film the ongoing construction as there are hundreds of paramilitary personnel from the Assam side. We are scared,” he said, and rued the Lower Siang district administration’s failure to send in forces.
It is learnt that the district’s deputy commissioner and superintendent of police are both on leave.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Dhemaji (Assam) Deputy Commissioner Roshni Kothari denied that any construction work was taking place in the area. She said the paramilitary personnel have been deployed as a preventive measure against the occurrence of any untoward incident.
“We have halted the construction. As of now, there are no activities at the controversial site,” the DC said.
She said she would convene an administrative level meeting in consultation with her Lower Siang counterpart to resolve the dispute.
When contacted, the Arunachal Pradesh IGP informed that “two IRBn platoons have been deployed and they must be reaching Hime and Gnopi villages to maintain law and order there.”
Meanwhile, the All Arunachal Pradesh Border Students’ Union appealed to the district administration to deploy adequate force to instill a sense of security among the people living in the area.
It said members of the union visited the area on Wednesday and found that the villagers had lost their paddy fields to Assam.