The Assam Police on Thursday advised its citizens not to travel to Mizoram after clashes erupted between the police of the two states along the border. In a separate order, the police also said that they will inspect vehicles coming from Mizoram at the border entry points with the state to check trafficking of illegal drugs.
Tensions escalated between the two states on Monday that led to the death of five Assam Police officers. While no casualties were suffered by Mizoram, the state government claimed that around 200 Assam Police personnel had crossed a duty post manned by the Central Reserve Police Force and state police in Vairengte town of Mizoram’s Kolasib district.
The two states share a 164.6-km-long border, which has long been a cause of dispute. Three districts in the south of Assam – Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj – share the border with Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts.
The states have sparred over it, sometimes violently. Several rounds of dialogue since 1994 have failed to resolve the disagreement.
In a statement on Thursday, the Assam Police claimed that following Monday’s incident, Mizoram’s civil society, students and youth organisations were issuing “provocative statements” against the citizens of Assam.
“It has been reliably learnt from video footage available with Assam Police, that many civilians [in Mizoram] are heavily armed with automatic weapons etc,” the advisory read.
Meanwhile, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga told NDTV he had proof that Assam opened fire first on Monday. “In a conflict, there will be accusations,” he said. “But first let them give a justification that just after successful meeting with home minister [Amit Shah] at Shillong, what is the justification to what Assam did in our border or in Meghalaya that day.”
In its order on vehicle search, the Assam Police said that 912 cases have been registered and 1,560 people arrested in connection with the illicit drug trafficking in the last two months. The police said that they have seized huge quantities of drugs, including 20.678 kg of heroin, 15 kg of opium and 1.9 kg of morphine.
In a bid to explain reason behind vehicle searches, they claimed that most of the drugs were routed to Assam through Mizoram. The police said that the drug trafficking through Mizoram was a cause of concern and threat to the society.
Following Monday’s incident, the two states, at a meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla on Wednesday, agreed to the deployment of Central Armed Police Forces in the areas prone to conflict along the state border and National Highway 306.
Both the states also decided to withdraw all their police officers from the disputed site where the clashes occurred, and “agreed to continue mutual discussions to resolve the border issue in an amicable manner”, an unidentified home ministry official had told the Hindustan Times.
States trade barbs over deployment of security forces at border
On Thursday, Assam and Mizoram exchanged barbs over the deployment of security forces along the interstate border, reported PTI.
Assam minister Ashok Singhal claimed that the state government has withdrawn troops from the interstate border following the Union home ministry’s order. However, he claimed that Mizoram was yet to do the same.
Singhal, the guardian minister of Cachar district, also alleged that the neighbouring state wanted to settle the dispute by arms and ammunitions and called this is the wrong approach.
“Peace and harmony is yet to be established in the border area, but we want to make it clear that not an inch of Assam’s land will be allowed to be taken away by Mizoram,” Singhal added.
On the other hand, Mizoram government claimed that the Assam Police has mobilised a large contingent of its personnel Dholai and Hawaithang areas in the Cachar district along the interstate border.
In a letter to the Additional Secretary in-charge of the Northeast, Mizoram Home Secretary Lalbiaksangi said that the mobilisation of police at the border was objectionable and will lead to panic among the citizens on both states.
Lalbiaksangi also urged the Union home ministry to issue instructions to the Assam government to refrain from such reinforcement .