Thetsumi Youth Society clarifies on June 13 incident

Thetsumi, June 19 (MExN): The Thetsumi Youth Society (TYS), on June 19, repudiated the reported assault of a woman from Chizami village on June 13, while stating its account of the incident and related issues. 

“At no point of time have we assaulted any woman from Chizami village,” the TYS clarified in a rejoinder, while terming the accusations “wild” and “unfortunate.” Instead, it charged the Chizami Village Council (CVC) of “taking undue advantage of the good offices of the government administration and law enforcing agencies which are stationed in their immediate surrounding area.”

Meanwhile, terming the earlier press statement issued by the CVC as “one-sided,” the TYS accused the former of “playing the victim drama after provoking the worst in others” and asserted that it took “measures to defend ourselves” after being ‘attacked.’  

The Society further claimed that the incident occurred in Thetsumi village territory where some families from Chizami village “were allowed to cultivate paddy fields for their food security and sustenance on compassionate grounds” due to “family ties, lineage, bloodlines and share family trees.”

Accordingly, it stated that “extreme action of burning down Paddy field huts and destroying paddy fields on our village land by our youth is not the first but had happened previously too” whenever the CVC “aggressively violated our ownership and illegally encroached our lands.”

Giving its account of the incident, the TYS claimed that it was “triggered by the unlawful and forced seizure by the Chizami Village Youth (CYS) upon the 5 Fanta (timber) truckloads of pine logs brought by the TYS to be sawed in Chizami village on December 8, 2020. 

The CYS then verbally requested TYS to allow them to take 1/4 of the timber but the latter refused terming the request “illogical,” it said.

The matter was brought to the attention of the CVC with request for a written apology from the CYS so that such incident is not repeated in the future, it added.

However, to its utter shock, the CYS wrote an “official letter” dated June 12, 2022 justifying the seizure claiming that the “timber originated from their ancestral lands,” the TYS stated. 

After many “verbal assurances” that the timber would be handed back, the TYS was “lost for words at the senseless claim” of the CYS and was forced to “take up immediate measures to protect our lands and mountains, it added. 

“This led us to announce that paddy cultivation by some Chizami villagers will be discontinued for this season, until such a crazy claim of our mountains and hills is amicably resolved,” TYS maintained.  

Accordingly, on June 13, the TYS stated that some youth from the village went to the “paddy fields cultivated by some Chizami families in our village land to inform them that we would not be allowing them to cultivate in this season” till the CYS June 3 letter matter was resolved. 

However, it claimed that the youth were “shot at” without any provocation and after “several shots,” they “fired back in self-defence.”

This unprovoked attack “infuriated our youth to burn down few paddy field huts and destroy some paddy fields in the scuffle” it justified, adding that the  unfortunate incident would have been avoided if they were not  “fired” upon.

Such cowardly acts should be condemned by one and all, the TYS stated in the rejoinder issued by its Chairman,  Neivezolo Doulo and General Secretary, Tekhengulo Lasuh.

“In this very case, the CVC has crossed all sensibilities by encroaching upon Thetsumi lands which some needy families from Chizami village have regularly walked for kilometres and hours to blissfully cultivate for years and even decades under the good will of Thetsumi community,” the TYS stated. 

It further claimed the traditional ownership of the disputed land. 

“We hope that good citizens of Chizami village will make their village council to see good sense and bring back peace and tranquillity by stopping illegal encroachment,” the TYS stated. 

To this end, the TYS stated that “till such a time comes” it will not allow anyone to “cultivate paddy on our lands again.” 

The TYS also expressed its appreciation to Deputy Commissioner Phek for issuing a restraining order June 13 “to avoid any further escalation of trouble and tension.”

Expressing hope that both sides will not violate the order, the TYS stated that Thetsumi villagers are “peace loving and will not provoke anyone unless we are provoked.” 

 “We hope truth and justice prevail and good will return to our neighbourhood again,” it added. 

It must be noted here that the CVC on June 14 decried the alleged destruction of agriculture crops and canal under its ‘village jurisdiction’ on June 13 by Thetsumi villagers.

It informed that the council had filed a ‘First Information Report (FIR) against Thetsümi village for the property damages. It further flayed the “dastardly  attack” on a woman farmer by "armed Thetsümi youth" on the fateful day.