On March 16, 2020, an arson attack took place in Chassad village in Kamjong district. The attack involved acts of ransacking and looting, allegedly committed by an armed mob from the neighbouring Sampui village. The village's jhum fields, more than 150 houses and 10 vehicles were torched. The state government had to intervene by invoking Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code and temporarily suspending Internet services. Land ownership is at the heart of the ethnic clash between the warring communities the Kuki tribe residing in Chassad village and the Tangkhul Naga community of Sampui village. The violent incident was a reminder of the 199394 communal clashes between the two communities over the same issue of ownership of land resources, which led to the massacre of hundreds of people from both the communities. Chassad and Sampui villages are part of Kamjong district, which was carved out of Ukhrul district and was officially recognised on December 8, 2016, but ethnic clashes between the Kukis and Nagas can be traced to colonial times. Kamjong district is mainly dominated by Tangkhul Nagas, who consider it their ancestral territory. The Kukis, meanwhile, claim it to be their ancestral land with historical significance. The Tangkhul Nagas, supported by the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (IsakMuivah), refute this claim. The main land area in contention is the open forest area between these two villages. In a case filed in 1945 by the Sampui village headman regarding the dispute, the Sub Divisional Officer ruled in Chassad village's favour but the area continues to be disputed till date. On March 15, 2020, approximately 30 acres of land under jhum cultivation, owned by the Kukis, were burnt down by some unidentified persons. The Kuki tribe from Chassad village blamed it on the Tangkhul Nagas of neighbouring Sampui village, stating that they wanted to destroy the official documents that recognizes Chassad's ownership of the land, and blocked the UkhrulKamjong state highway. In retaliation, the aggrieved Naga community attacked Chassad village the next day, burning down houses and vehicles. The NSCN (IM) denied attacking Chassad and pointed fingers at Kamjong residents but blamed the Kukis for 'provoking' the Nagas. In the aftermath of the attack, more than a hundred families were left homeless. According to Chongoi Baite, a resident of Chassad, of** **the 150 houses that were torched, only 30 were not completely gutted down. "Every single thing in the remaining houses, right down to the last spoon, was either destroyed or looted," she told LCW. Even though the state promised assistance to the affected people, nothing concrete has been seen on the ground so far. A villager in Chassad added, "Though the Assam Rifles personnel forestalled the perpetrators, neither they nor the Manipur State Police stopped the looting, ransacking, burning or the trucks that ferried away household goods, such as bags of rice, clothes, money, utensils, televisions, etc. Pressure groups like the Kuki Nampi Taona and Kuki Inpi provided temporary rehabilitation and relief material to the homeless. The reconstruction of houses had begun soon after and the residents of Chassad were promised monetary assistance. However, on March 30, the Sampui village authority wrote a letter to the chief minister's office demanding that the resettlement of Chassad village must not happen without Sampui's consent, in addition to demanding legal ownership of Chassad. On that account, although the families seek rehabilitation, they also fear a second attack by the Naga community surrounding them.
Demand for rehabilitation, Demand for legal recognition of land rights
Has the Conflict Ended?
When did it end?
Why did the conflict end?
Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict
Constitutional Law, Procedural Laws, Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws
Manipur (Hill Areas) District Council Act, 1971
Section 29 [This section provides the functions of the District Council, which includes (xv) management of non-reserve forest area, (xvi) regulation of Jhum or other shifting agriculture, or (xvii) any other matters concerned with agriculture, social and tribal welfare, village planning etc]
The Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973
Section 144 [This section empowers the district magistrate to issue orders to prevent obstruction, injury, or danger to human life or health etc. and the orders were issued here for preventing public gatherings and suspending internet to prevent further violence]
Indian Penal Code, 1860
Section 390 [This section defines the offence of robbery]; Section 392 [This section prescribes the punishment for robbery] Section 435 [This section prescribes the punishment for committing mischief by fire or explosive substance to damage agricultural produce or other property]; Section 441 [This section defines criminal trespass on the property of another]; Section 447 [Criminal trespass is punishable under this section]
Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute
What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?
Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:
Lack of legal protection over land rights, Forced evictions/ Dispossession of Land, Non-rehabilitation of displaced people
Out of Court
Status of Case In Court
Whether any adjudicatory body was approached
Name of the adjudicatory body
Name(s) of the Court(s)
Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:
Torching of houses, Raid/break-in/theft
Whether criminal law was used against protestors
Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?
Reported Details of the Violation:
At least 150 houses, 10 vehicles and the village's Jhum fields were torched by an armed mob. The mob allegedly ransacked and looted the houses too.
Date of Violation
March 16, 2020
Location of Violation
Nature of Protest
Blockades, Property damage/arson
Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:
District administration of Kamjong, Police department
PSUs Involved in the Conflict:
Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?
Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached
Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?
Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Kuki Inpi, Tangkhul Naga Zingsho Longphang, Government of People's Republic of Nagalim, United People's Front, Kuki National Organisation, United Naga Council