'Peace meal' disturbed at Indo-Myanmar border

'Peace meal' disturbed at Indo-Myanmar border

Phimring may be in his 70s, but he is still a skillful hunter. The village elder from Duthang knows the perfidious jungles and the undulating array of hills along the porous Indo-Myanmar border like the back of his hand.

But the June 4th ambush by militants on the Indian Army has left him and many like him in the most nondescript villages on the border region, completely puzzled, with no surety of peace and a meal. 

Durthang village has about 150 people, all from the Anal Naga tribe. Just an hour walk from their village is the Nakala village on the Myanmar side where people from the same community live. For ages, the border did not mean much to these Naga tribes — Anals, Lamkang and Moyon tribes —  who have been living on both sides of the border.

“In such a scenario, this entire stretch of the border is very isolated. It is treacherous. The villagers make their living by shifting cultivations in the jungles, hunting and fishing in the small rivulets that run into Myanmar. Our linkages with the Nagas on the other side are historic. Even the security forces and the militants face the same challenge as we do, due to the hostile terrain everyone has to coexist. It is a peace meal,” said Phimring.
It is this ‘peace meal’ that has kept this very difficult stretch of the Indo-Myanmar border ‘peaceful’ with no big incidents for years.

“Militants used to pass through our villages. At times they bought vegetables and other edibles. They also used to buy firewood. There is hardly any government facility in my village of T Minao. There is no road, electricity, school or healthcare. For emergency, we have to depend on the Assam Rifles. And we have to be loyal to both—the militants and the armed forces,” said a youth who had come to settle down in Duthang.

Ever since a stepped-up vigil along the border, there is almost no movement between communities across the border.  The villagers are not even venturing out. Thus hunting, fishing and farming has drastically gone down.

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