The Centre has agreed to deploy additional forces for Assam to maintain peace along the state’s borders with Mizoram after tensions escalated on Monday due to the death of a 45-year old man, PTI reported on Wednesday. The man from Assam’s Cachar district died in the custody of Mizoram Police.

Assam Chief Secretary Jishnu Barua, during a visit to the border on Wednesday, urged people to show restraint and patience in order to maintain peace. He said the central forces would arrive in a few days.

The Assam resident, Intazul Laskar, a resident of a town along the Assam-Mizoram border, was allegedly “abducted by miscreants”. The Mizoram Police, however, claim Laskar was a “drug peddler” who was apprehended by members of the Young Mizo Association, a powerful pressure group from the state. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah about the “abduction and death” earlier this week.

“I am concerned that an innocent life was lost possibly due to the handiwork of miscreants,” Barua said on Wednesday. “We would like to have a detailed inquiry into it.” An ex-gratia of Rs 5 lakh was also provided to the family of the man.

The central forces would be stationed along the border areas in Cachar and Karimganj districts, the Assam chief secretary said. Senior officials in Assam and Mizoram are of the opinion that the central forces will instill confidence in the region because of its “neutrality”, according to The Telegraph.

Baruah alleged that some non-state actors had played a major role in instigating differences and conflicts. “The state government has taken up the issue with all seriousness and that is why, myself and DGP [director general of police] have come here and that being with the people and with the district authorities,” he added, according to The Economic Times. “All possible steps are being taken for peace.”

The Assam chief secretary also asserted there was no reason to escalate tension and increasing problems. He also said that his state was clear of the constitutional boundary and that is clearly defined by the Mizoram Act, 1986.

Mizoram was carved out of Assam in 1972, when 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 kilometre-long border with Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts. The boundary between the two states is disputed at several points. Assam and Mizoram have often sparred over it, sometimes violently. Several rounds of dialogue, at various levels, since 1994 have failed to resolve the disagreement.

Tensions between the two states resumed in early October when the Assam government launched an “eviction drive” along a disputed part of the border, between Karimganj district and Mizoram’s Mamit district. A farm house and crops were reportedly burned down.

The Mizoram government responded by deploying forces in what Assam claims is its territory. The Mizos, for their part, insisted that they were only “defending their land”.

Meanwhile, violent clashes began on October 17 in another disputed area in the east at the Cachar-Kolasib section of the boundary. The two sides blame each other for the violence that injured several people. The border dispute also assumed an ethnic tinge as Mizo civil society groups claimed that those behind the violence from Assam were “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh trying to take over Mizo land.

On October 21, the Mizoram government had agreed to pull back troops from the Assam border, where violent clashes had erupted on October 17 between the residents of the two states. The tensions also cut off supply of resources to Mizoram as Assam residents blocked highways, connecting the two states, from October 18. Mizo groups reportedly responded by organising their own blockade, preventing truckers from going to Assam.

Also read:

  1. A ‘custodial death’ threatens to prolong the Assam-Mizoram border dispute
  2. Assam CM writes to Amit Shah amid fresh tensions with Mizoram over death of 45-year-old man