The ongoing border tensions between Assam and Mizoram escalated further on Monday after a 45-year old man from Assam’s Cachar district died in the custody of Mizoram Police, PTI reported. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the “abduction and death” of Intazul Laskar, according to the Hindustan Times.
Sonowal has also announced an ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh for the family of the victim.
Meanwhile, officials of the two states have different versions about Laskar’s death.
Mizoram’s Kolasib district Superintendent of Police Vanlalfaka Ralte told PTI that Laskar was a drug peddler and that he was apprehended by volunteers of the Young Mizo Association on Sunday evening when he crossed the inter-state border to deliver a consignment and later died at a health facility.
He said that while attempting to run away from the volunteers in the Vairengte area, Laskar suffered minor injuries in his ankle and was admitted to the Vairengte Community Health Centre, where officials found him “physically weak” and he died at 4.20 am on Monday.
Another police official told the news agency that Lashkar was booked under relevant sections of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 after the arrest and later, a case of unnatural death was registered at the Vairengte police station.
However, an Assam Police official told PTI that the incident was a “clear case of custodial death”.
“The Mizoram Police has intimated us that they are proceeding as per the NHRC [National Human Rights Commission] guidelines related to custodial death,” he said.
He further said that Laskar went missing from a forest area where he went to collect wood and that a case was registered on the matter at the local Dholai police station. “This morning, we got confirmation from police of Kolasib district in Mizoram that he is in their custody,” the official said. “However, by the afternoon, we were told that he expired.”
Following the incident, Cachar Superintendent of Police Bhanwar Lal Meena wrote to Ralte, urging him to investigate the matter, according to PTI. The Mizoram home department also wrote to Assam asking to “prevent any retaliatory attacks by vested parties and anti-social elements” over the death, the Hindustan Times reported.
Tension has been prevailing along the border since October 17 after miscreants allegedly damaged 18 temporary huts and three semi-urban dwelling units, following which several rounds of talks were held between officials of Assam, Mizoram and the Centre.
Blockade on National Highway-306, the lifeline of Mizoram, entered the sixth day on Monday.