The Mizoram government on Wednesday wrote to the Centre against residents of Assam blocking an important highway and other roads leading to its capital Aizawl.
Three districts in the south of Assam – Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj – share a 164.6-km-long border with Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts. Both states contest its demarcation and have often sparred over it, sometimes violently.
The indefinite blockade started after five Assam police officers were killed as clashes erupted along the state’s border with Mizoram on Monday. The police forces of both the states fired at each other. Residents of Lailapur village in Assam’s Cachar district also clashed with those near Vairengte in Mizoram’s Kolasib district.
In a letter to the Centre on Wednesday, Mizoram Home Secretary Lalbiaksangi said that National Highway 306 needs to be open for uninterrupted supply of essential commodities to the state.
“The blockade is affecting the livelihood of the people of Mizoram adversely,” he added. “Movement of vehicles along other routes connecting Mizoram and Assam have also been blocked inside Assam state.”
The home secretary said that National Highways are owned and managed by the central government, and therefore neither the state nor the public has any right to block them. Lalbiaksangi also pointed out that the Assam government had earlier imposed a economic blockade from October 17 to November 11 due to border tensions.
“It is reported with serious concern that Assam has been indulging in the practice of imposing economic blockade merely because of the fact the main supply routes i.e, National Highways and Railway lines are passing through the state,” Lalbiaksangi wrote. “Incidents like this have occurred numerous times in the past in connection with other incidents.”
In October 2020, tensions between Assam and Mizoram escalated to an unprecedented level after both the sides accused each other of encroaching on their land. Residents of both states clashed twice in a week, leading to eight people being injured.
The blockade of highway was then resolved only after the Centre intervened in the matter.
In his letter on Wednesday, the Mizoram home secretary also said that “unknown miscreants” from Assam have also destroyed railway tracks.
“With this destruction, the only railway line connecting Bairabi Railway Station, Mizoram, has been blocked,” he added. “This has the effect of blocking the only alternative route for entry of goods and supplies into the state.”
Lalbiaksangi urged the Centre to direct Assam to end the blockade immediately and ensure immediate resumption of movement of goods to Mizoram.
Meanwhile, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla will meet Assam Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua and Assam Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti at 4 pm to discuss the border dispute, ANI reported, citing an unidentified official.
Officials from both Mizoram and Assam, including chief ministers, have accused each other of provoking Monday’s skirmish.
On Monday morning, a team of Assam police officials led by an inspector general went to the disputed site. According to the Assam government, the idea was to “diffuse the situation and resolve matters”. Mizoram, however, said the violence started after the Assam Police crossed the border and “over-ran” a police post in Vairengte town of Kolasib district.
The violence erupted even as Home Minister Amit Shah had held a meeting in Shillong on Saturday to try to resolve the tensions.
On Tuesday, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma declared that his state would not “spare even an inch of its land to Mizoram’’. He also announced that his government will deploy three commando battalions in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts, bordering Mizoram.