Villagers released after severe beating

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IMPHAL, April 19: Tension prevailed along the Manipur-Nagaland border when a group of villagers from Jessami village under Ukhrul district allegedly intruded and collected wood in Mellori village of the neighbouring state.

At around 10:30 am yesterday, a team of VDF personnel stationed at Jessami along with the Officer-in- charge rushed to Mellori village in a mini truck without any arms in a goodwill gesture to bring back the wood cutters after receiving information that they were under attack.

However, the VDF team was also attacked by personnel of armed Nagaland Village Police numbering about 30, including another 40-50 villagers of Mellori without provocation as they crossed Akash Bridge located on Manipur-Nagaland border.

The alleged attackers also snatched away the 407 mini truck from the VDF team and attacked the driver with sharp knife and butt after dragging down him from the vehicle.

The truck driver was hit on the head with the butt even as his legs were severely injured after being attacked with a sharp knife. He suffered several bruise marks on his body.

He was removed to Shija Hospitals at Langol here and now he is undergoing treatment.

Meanwhile, Chingai constituency MLA, Preshow Shimray today visited the tension gripped area to take stock of the situation there.

During the visit, the MLA emphasized on increasing the strength of the IRB personnel to 100 (one company) headed by a SDPO to man the troubled Akash Bridge while suggesting that the Nagaland villagers could be curbed and maintained stability if the number of forces is increased.

He also said only 30 VDF personnel cannot control the bridge.

Nagaland has its traditional land inside the Manipur border and Manipur also has its traditional land inside the neighboring state, the MLA admitted.

He further appealed the Jessami villagers to stay calm and avoid untoward incident in future as every dispute arising out of the two border villages can be solved through peaceful negotiations.

At the same time, ICHAM president N Rajendro visited Shija Hospitals on Thursday and met with the injured driver.

The issue over illegal stationing of Nagaland force at Jessami village and building of a Nagaland guest house there was raised two years before by ICHAM following which the state government sent an IRB company to guard the border some years back, Rajendro told journalists.

However, he said it was quite surprising that the government called back the IRB personnel from the sensitive border area without giving any clear reason.

The state Chief Minister and Home Minister should take up measures like strengthening the security force manning the crucial border post to ensure a peaceful environment in the area, the ICHAM president also suggested.

He also announced that ICHAM would incur all the expenditures for the treatment of the injured driver.

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