Five personnel of Assam Police were killed amid violence on its border with Mizoram on Monday, while 50 cops have been admitted to Silchar Medical College and Hospital (SMCH).
Clashes broke out between the people of the two states two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah met all the chief ministers of the Northeastern states in Shillong. There were reports of firing from the border areas and attacks on government vehicles. Tension flared along the border after eight farmers’ huts were set ablaze by unidentified miscreants, a senior police officer told PTI.
Earlier, Assam Chief Minister Sarma had claimed six police personnel were killed in action during the clashes.
An Assam government statement later revised the figure just before midnight and said that five state police personnel died and more than 50 people of the force were injured.
“I am deeply pained to inform that six brave jawans of @assampolice have sacrificed their lives while defending constitutional boundary of our state at the Assam-Mizoram border. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families," tweeted Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
I am deeply pained to inform that six brave jawans of @assampolice have sacrificed their lives while defending constitutional boundary of our state at the Assam-Mizoram border. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families.
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) July 26, 2021
The violence prompted Shah to speak to the chief ministers of the two states, asking them to find a way to resolve the festering conflict. According to sources, both Sarma and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga have assured that steps will be taken to bring the situation under control.
Zoramthanga tweeted, “Hon’ble @himantabiswa ji, as discussed I kindly urge that Assam Police @assampolice be instructed to withdraw from Vairengte for the safety of civilians,"
Sarma, meanwhile, said, “I have just spoken to Hon’ble Chief Minister @ZoramthangaCM ji. I have reiterated that Assam will maintain status quo and peace between the borders of our state. I have expressed my willingness to visit Aizawl and discuss these issues if need be." A probe into the incident of firing has been ordered by the chief minister.
Hon’ble @himantabiswa ji, as discussed I kindly urge that Assam Police @assampolice be instructed to withdraw from Vairengte for the safety of civilians. @narendramodi @AmitShah @PMOIndia @HMOIndia https://t.co/wHtMPhFRpP— Zoramthanga (@ZoramthangaCM) July 26, 2021
Assam, Mizoram CMs wage war on Twitter
Earlier in the day, both the chief ministers took to Twitter to inform the home minister of today’s developments, alleging the other of provocation. The two chief ministers traded charges as Zoramthanga sought Shah’s intervention, saying it “needs to be stopped right now". He further alleged, “Innocent couple on their way back to Mizoram via Cachar manhandled and ransacked by thugs and goons. How are you going to justify these violent acts?"
Meanwhile, Sarma tweeted: “Honble @ZoramthangaCM ji , Kolasib (Mizoram) SP is asking us to withdraw from our post until then their civilians won’t listen nor stop violence. How can we run government in such circumstances? Hope you will intervene at earliest".
Innoncent couple on their way back to Mizoram via Cachar manhandled and ransacked by thugs and goons.How are you going to justify these violent acts?@dccachar @cacharpolice @DGPAssamPolice pic.twitter.com/J9c20gzMZQ
— Zoramthanga (@ZoramthangaCM) July 26, 2021
The Mizoram government also alleged that Assam Police personnel opened fire on the state’s security forces and civilians, prompting retaliatory action.
Sarma, however, tweeted that “clear evidences are now beginning to emerge that unfortunately show that Mizoram Police has used Light Machine Guns (LMG) against personnel of @assampolice. This is sad, unfortunate and speaks volumes about the intention and gravity of the situation."
Clear evidences are now beginning to emerge that unfortunately show that Mizoram Police has used Light Machine Guns (LMG) against personnel of @assampolice. This is sad, unfortunate and speaks volumes about the intention and gravity of the situation.— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) July 26, 2021
The cops were injured in clashes in Lailapul
The seven Assam police personnel who died in the violence were reported to have been injured during the clashes in Lailapul of Cachar district of south Assam along the Assam-Mizoram border. While the official vehicle of the deputy commissioner of Cachar was vandalised, firing reported was from the Mizoram side. Following the violence, the deployment of Assam Police battalion along the border has been increased.
“They pelted stones, attacked us with sticks, poles, catapult, and chased us. Our SP IG and DIG were there. The order to fire was not given. We were asked to restrain. At present, 11 of us injured have been brought to Silchar Medical College for treatment. There are more," said an injured Assam Police personnel.
“I broke my hand when a stone hit me," said a woman Assam Police personnel at SMCH.
Meanwhile, CRPF said they have taken over the force. “Assam side has been persuaded to go back, we are trying to convince the Mizoram side too to retreat. Situation at this moment appears tensed, but under control," it said.
Earlier in the day, the Assam Police, along with Cachar administration, had attempted to free land allegedly encroached by the people of Mizoram. Reportedly, around 6.5 km of land, which according to Assam government falls in their territory, has been a bone of contention between the two states. The Mizoram government has vehemently denied encroaching any land.
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. Complaints have been lodged by owners of the huts at Vairengte police station and investigation is underway, Khiangte said.
Inter-state Border Tensed Since June
The situation along the Mizoram-Assam border has been on the boil since June-end when Assam Police allegedly took control over an area known as “Aitlang hnar" about 5 km from Vairengte, accusing the neighbouring state of encroaching on its territory.
In June, a couple of grenades were hurled when a similar team went to reconstruct a primary school burnt down allegedly by Mizo miscreants last year in 2020. The school was burnt down in a grenade explosion.
The issue was discussed threadbare in the recently concluded meeting of the northeast CMs with the Home Minister Amit Shah in Shillong. Shah had urged all sides to resolve border issues urgently and amicably, specially ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
(With PTI inputs)