This pillar stands near the village of Zochachhuiah in Mizoram. Just beyond it, the ground slopes down towards a stream no wider than two metres. Splash across that stream and you are in Myanmar. Made of concrete, such pillars mark the border on the Indian side. I spotted them while reporting on a highway that seeks to connect Mizoram to a port in Myanmar.
In the western part of Mizoram, I came across a very different border. At Borapansury, a village in the Chakma Autonomous District Council that borders Bangladesh, a fence is coming up. It's made of two walls of barbed wire with concertina wire in the middle.
The nature of the two borders says so much about national preoccupations. Both borders, colonial artefacts that they are, broke communities in two. The Maras and Lais towards Myanmar and the Chakmas towards Bangladesh. But one is guarded while the other is not.
This subjectivity is strange. The ostensible reason for the Bangladesh fence is illegal cross-border migration. But the Indo-Myanmar border has its share of troubles too – ranging from drug running to infiltration by insurgent groups.
What is more incontrovertible is that the fence is affecting the locals. At Borapansury, a river flows along the border with Bangladesh. As the fence comes up on the Indian side, villagers are struggling to access the river for fishing, travelling, farming or sand mining. They can cross the fence only with the permission of the Border Security Force personnel manning the checkposts. There used to be a healthy amount of cross-border trade with Bangladeshis selling produce in the Indian side. That’s been disrupted now, as have been families with relatives on the other side.