The governments of Assam and Mizoram on Sunday reached out to the Centre to discuss the situation at the states’ border after violence broke out on October 17, with at least four people injured in clashes between residents of the two states, NDTV reported. The situation is now under control in the area, which is in Kolasib district of Mizoram and Cachar district of Assam.
A meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla between both the states will be held on Monday to review the situation, Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana said. Chief secretaries of the two states will be present, he said.
Mizoram was part of Assam till 1972, before it became a separate Union Territory. In 1987, it became a full-fledged state. The three South Assam districts of Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj share a 164.6-km-long border with Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts.
Much of the boundary is contested and the two states have often argued over it, sometimes violently. Several rounds of talks, at various levels, since 1994 have failed to resolve the disagreement.
Both sides have their own version of what led to the escalation on October 17. Mizoram district officials and ethnic outfits allege it began at noon when some residents of Cachar, in the presence of Assam police officials, dismantled a Mizoram police post at a village called Saihapui, along the state border, and manhandled the personnel stationed there. “A Covid checkpoint was destroyed by Assam locals in the presence of Assam police,” H Lalthangliana, Kolasib’s deputy commissioner, told Scroll.in.
“In turn, Mizoram residents mobilised and went after them,” Kolasib added, according to The Indian Express. “People from Lailapur broke the status quo and allegedly constructed some temporary huts. People from Mizoram side went and set fire on them.”
He added that three people were injured in the violence. “One of them is critical and is under treatment at a hospital,” Lalthangliana said.
Mizo civil society groups said the clashes were triggered by stone pelting from Lailapur.
But the Cachar district administration in Assam refuted the claims. “Some Mizo people came inside the Assam area and burned some temporary shops along the road,” Bhanwar Lal Meena, Cachar’s police superintendent, told Scroll.in. “There was no aggression from the Assam side – all that happened was from the other side.”
The two states have deployed security personnel, including those of the Indian Reserve Battalion, in the violence-hit areas near the Vairengte village in Mizoram and Assam’s Lailapur, officials told PTI.
“The issue has been taken up with the Government of India, Assam Additional Director General of Police GP Singh told The Indian Express. “Hopefully, it should be settled soon. Special DGP (Border) has been advised to visit the affected area.”
On Sunday, the Mizoram government held an emergency Cabinet meeting to discuss the violence and blamed it on “unilateral and provocative acts” and “transgressions committed by the Government of Assam”. Chief Minister Zoramthanga urged for peace and order. “I sincerely request everyone to maintain peace and to kindly not bypass any administrative proceedings,” he tweeted.
In a statement issued after the Cabinet meeting, the Mizoram government announced security would be beefed up in the “affected border areas” and it was engaging with the government of Assam to resolve the issue.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday also apprised the Prime Minister’s Office and Union Home Ministry about the prevailing situation at the border. Sonowal also spoke over the phone with his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga and stressed on joint efforts to settle disputes amicably, the Assam government said in a statement. Zoramthanga assured Sonowal of efforts to maintain peace at the inter-state border and cooperation, it added.