New Delhi: Tensions on the Assam-Mizoram border became a matter of serious concern for the administration on Monday (July 26) after six Assam police personnel lost their lives and 50 others, including an SP, injured in deadly clashes that broke out in a sudden escalation of the border dispute between Assam and Mizoram. The dispute also saw the two Chief Ministers engaging in a public spat, blaming each other’s police for the violence and seeking the Centre’s intervention.
The deadly boundary dispute, which took place between the two northeastern states, dates back to colonial era, when Mizoram was known as Lushai Hills, a district of Assam. It was unfortunate to see the police of two states of the country battling out with each other. Chief Ministers of both Assam and Mizoram took to social media to trade charges while Union Home Minister Amit Shah urged the two leaders to ensure peace along the disputed border and find an amicable settlement.
— Zee News (@ZeeNews) July 26, 2021
Assam’s Barak Valley districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi share a 164 km long border with Mizoram’s three districts of Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit. The dispute started near the Gutguti village close to the border after the Mizoram Police set up a few temporary camps. Following a territorial dispute, there were clashes along the inter-state border in August 2020 and February this year.
On Monday, eight farmers’ huts were set ablaze by unidentified miscreants, police said. Mizoram Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Northern Range), Lalbiakthanga Khiangte, told PTI that at least eight unoccupied farm huts near Aitlang stream in the trouble-torn area were torched around 11.30 pm on Sunday. He said these belonged to farmers from Vairengte, the nearest border village from Assam. Following an argument, police of both the states open fire at each other in which 6 Assam Police personnel were killed and 50 others, including an SP injured.
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma announced on Twitter that six personnel of the Assam Police were killed in firing along the inter-state border in the Cachar district. “I am deeply pained to inform that six brave jawans of @assampolice have sacrificed their lives while defending the constitutional boundary of our state at the Assam-Mizoram border. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families,” Sarma tweeted.
However, Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana, in a statement, said Mizoram Police responded ‘spontaneously by firing back’ at Assam Police after its 200 personnel forcibly crossed a duty post manned by the CRPF personnel and indulged in arson, assault on unarmed persons and firing.
A senior Assam Police officer, who is still inside the forest amid continuous firing from across the state border, told PTI that at least 50 personnel, including Cachar Superintendent of Police Nimbalkar Vaibhav Chandrakant, were injured in firing and stone-pelting.
The senior police officer said miscreants from across the state border suddenly started firing when civil officials of both sides were holding a dialogue to sort out the differences.
The border dispute between Assam and Mizoram is almost 146 years old. In the year 1875, the British had determined the boundary between Mizoram and Kachar in Assam. Mizoram was then named as Lushai Hills. Then, the northeast region comprised of only three states – Manipur, Tripura and Assam; whereas Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh were part of Assam, which was called as Greater Assam.
People of different tribes lived in this area, whose language, culture and identity remained entirely different from each other. On this basis, after independence, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh were carved out from Assam and became separate states. But the determination of the boundary between these states remained a matter of dispute even after independence. Mizoram wanted its border with Assam to be determined according to the 1875 agreement.
Mizoram claims that many of their Mizo-speaking districts ended up becoming part of Assam due to the post-independence boundary demarcation. In 2005 the Supreme Court had also asked the central government to form a Boundary Commission to settle the dispute, but so far no major action has taken place in this direction.
Overall, it has been almost 150 years to this border dispute but no concrete solution has been found so far. What needs to be mentioned here is that when we have not been able to resolve the border dispute between two states in these many years, how long and if we will ever be able to resolve the land boundary disputes with neighbouring countries.