Even as the Centre is trying to restore peace in insurgency-hit Dima Hasao district (erstwhile North Cachar Hill district) of Assam by engaging two factions of the Dima Halam Daogah in the peace process, another militant group is rearing its head in the troubled area.
Once the government started the peace initiatives with the DHD factions, which claim to represent the dominant Dimes tribe in the hill district, militant elements from non-Dimasa tribes have got together to float a new militant group called Hill Tiger Fore.
According to security sources, the armed group has been tasked to protect and fight for the rights and interest of the non-Dimasa hill tribes living in the hill district and adjoining areas. The outfit has been formed with Kapchy Naga as the self-styled chairman, Arnal Kuki as the secretary, Hrangthang Hmar as commander in chief, Lunneh Kuki as publicity secretary and Stephan Lungchuong as the secretary, finance.
The HTF came into being after Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in Assam renamed North Cachar Hills district as Dima Hasao district earlier this year, ignoring opposition from all non-Dimasa ethnic groups which constitute nearly 57 per cent of the total population in the hill district.
Prominent non-Dimasa tribes of the hill district include Zemes, Kukis and Hmars who have been demanding tribe-specific councils within the hill district. These tribes have strongly opposed renaming of the district.
The non-Dimasa communities have been demanding bifurcation of the hill district.
The students' committees of Non Dimasa organisations urged the Union and the Assam government to take stern action to prevent future ethnic conflicts in NC hills. Leaders of Indigenous People's Forum of NC hills met Home Minister P Chidambaram in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum. They apprised him of problems faced by non-Dimasas while submitting their demands to him.
The non-Dimasa students unions strongly opposed the change of the district nomenclature in accordance with the name of a particular tribe and termed it as a clear abuse of the provision of Article 244(2) of the Constitution.
According to security sources, the HTF, which has nearly 100 cadres, is being trained at camps along thickly forested boundary between N C Hill and Manipur by Naga rebels in truce. It may be noted that large swathes of NC Hills have been included in the 'Greater Nagaland' or the proposed 'Nagalim' map of the Naga rebel group, NSCN-IM.