Border Dispute in Nagaland's Peren District Leads to Firing, Torching of Houses

Reported by

Sarup SinhaLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

November 4, 2020

Location of Conflict

Lamhainamdi

,

Peren

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Border Dispute

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

21

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

ha

State

Nagaland

Sector

Land Use

The Dimapur-Peren border area is a disputed territory inhabited by different Naga tribes on each side of the border. The two major tribes are the Sumis in Dimapur and the Zeliangrong community (representative of the three Naga tribes of Zeme, Liangmai and Rongmei) in Peren district. In a communique issued in June 2019 by the Nagaland Home Department, Principal Secretary Abhijit Sinha noted that the disputed land has been the cause of friction between the two tribal communities – Sumi and Zeme - and that the endless vigilance of local authorities has helped keep possible flare-ups at bay. In the communiqu, Sinha urged people in the disputed area to restrain from engaging in any unruly behaviour. Invoking the ties of Naga unity, the government also appealed to the respective tribe leaders to maintain peace in the area. But two months later, on September 6, 2019, unidentified gunmen stormed Lamhainamdi village, located on the border of the two districts, and opened indiscriminate fire. They burnt down several makeshift huts, tents and structures as well as the village church. No casualties were reported as the village residents fled to the surrounding forests. Sentiwapang Aier, deputy commissioner of Peren, told LCW that the border between Peren and Dimapur districts has been a matter of longstanding contention and that the dispute existed even before Peren was created as a separate district in 2004 following its bifurcation from Kohima. The dispute continues even now because several villages, of which many are unrecognised, still share the same unsettled boundary with Dimapur that they did before, only Peren had then existed as a sub-division of Kohima and not as a separate district. Though an exact time of the creation of Lamhainamdi village could not be ascertained, it is reportedly newly established and its current status remains unrecognised, as confirmed by the district commissioner. Following the attack, Deputy Chief Minister Y. Patton constituted a Cabinet Sub Committee to resolve the dispute amicably while also undertaking measures to demarcate the entire district boundary. He called for an immediate status quo in the disputed area, alongside a halt to all infrastructure and development-related activities. The Sub Committee visited the disputed area and interacted with the communities later that month. According to Patton, the border dispute intensified with the formation of Peren district. At that time, clear-cut demarcation of the boundary could not be established due to competing claims by the two communities. That led to the present quagmire, with half of the disputed area falling under Dimapur district and the other half under Peren. Several organisations representing the Zeliangrong community condemned the attack. On October 22, 2019, Zeliangrong Baudi, a civil society organisation, staged a rally demanding a just demarcation of the district boundary, which takes into account history and rights of the people. Other civil society organisations - Zeme Council, Liangmai Council, Rongmei Council Peren, All Zeliangrong Students Union - demanded in a joint statement that the government evict the unrecognised neighbouring villages of Lamhainamdi. These villages include Kehoi, Pushito, Vihuto and Hetoi. The organisations have blamed these villages for the attack, which they believe was an attempt to grab land. Although the police had initiated investigation, the gunmen remained unidentified and no arrests have been made so far. When asked about the current status of the dispute, the deputy commissioner told LCW that the progress was interrupted due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and that the status of Lamhainamdi village, the exact details about the land negotiation and the outcome of the Sub Committee will be announced in due time.

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Private and Common

Type of Common Land

Non-Forest (Other than Grazing Land)

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Land Area Affected
(in Hectares):

ha

Starting Year

2004

Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Nagaland, District Administration of Dimapur and Peren, Directorate of Land Records and Revenue

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

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