After the conflict between Aosenden Villagers and Assam officials on 8 March, border officials from both states met on 17 March at the location where the Aosenden villagers were clearing the forest and was disrupted by the Assam officials.
“Our position is that people’s jhum activities should not be disrupted,” Border Magistrate Tzürangkong stated.
According to the Border Magistrate, during the meeting, he mentioned to his Assam counterpart that the vegetation in the region consists only of bamboo and shrubs and cannot be classified a forest, indicating that the forest has been cleared previously.
“In plain regions, cultivation is permanent, but shifting cultivation is practiced in hilly areas, thus we continue to shift our agricultural areas.
As a result, because the vegetation in this particular spot primarily consists of bamboo and bushes rather than trees, I reasoned with the Assam counterparts that it is an indication that people had previously cleared the forest and so the cultivation had taken place before,” the BM told Mokokchung Times.
He further said that Assam has not protested against the existing four to five year old tea plantation that has been cultivated by the Assam side just adjacent to the spot where they are stopping the Aosenden villagers from clearing the area.
“I informed them that they are selectively using the ‘Reserve Forest’ justification because they are not objecting to their tea plantation just adjacent to the one they are objecting to,” the BM added.
However, the BM maintained that the talk was successful since the two counterparts agreed to keep the peace. The BM also acknowledged the BM from Assam for his cooperation.
While the talk was termed ‘successful’, it is still unclear whether the Aosenden villagers would be allowed to cultivate freely because it may be recalled that despite the officials from both states meeting in Chungtiayimsen Village on 13 February and agreeing to maintain the status quo, tension still arose on 8 March.