While the Centre continues its effort to curb down on the escalating tension at the Assam-Mizoram border, Mizoram CM Zoramthanga on Thursday expressed his displeasure over reports of withdrawing forces from the border and claimed the widely circulated report as ‘misinformation’.
According to the report issued earlier by the Assam government, Mizoram had consented to pull out its forces from the territory, following the intervention of Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs (in-charge of North East) Satyendra Kumar Garg on Wednesday. However, refuting the report, Zoramthanga retweeted DIPR official handle and wrote “misinformation…something we needed the least at this time."
Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday had separate telephonic conversations with the chief ministers of both the states to resolve the ongoing border dispute.
Tension erupted in the border areas since Saturday after violent clashes occured between residents of the neighboring states. The Centre had to intervene as ground-level talks between the two states failed on Tuesday. Mizoram declared that it would import essentials from neighboring countries if the blockade of trucks carrying supplies in Assam was not lifted. On the other hand, Assam demanded Mizoram to withdraw the forces from its territory.
How it all started? Where it stands now?
A Covid-19 testing centre was reportedly was set up by Mizoram two and a half kilometres inside Assam’s Kullicherra, on the eastern part of Lailapur in Cachar district. This didn’t go down well with the villagers there as well as Assam police who uprooted the barricade set up by the Mizos and pushed them back.
The Mizos subsequently alleged that a group of ‘illigal Bangladeshi immigrants’ pelted stones at the on-duty personnel of Mizoram reserve battalion. However, this was later refuted by the Assam Police. Besides, several civil organisations claimed that it was a fight against illegal Bangladeshi immigrants encroaching the indigenous land in Assam.
As the makeshift hut used as Covid-19 centre was uprooted, a section of Mizos entered Assam at an equal distance of 2 and half kms on Friday night and burned 18 hutments along roadsides and three semi-urban households. Clashes erupted on both the sides with several sustaining injuries, however, no deaths were reported on either side.
ADGP, also referred as Special DGP (Border), Mukesh Agarwal reached Lailapur on Monday to take stock of the situation. Later, Home Commissioner of Assam, Gyanendra Dev Tripathi, reached Silchar and spoke to SP Kolasib on the middle of the occupied road which the Mizos had taken over in Assam’s territory.
Notably, there were no senior officials from Mizoram that came while SP Cachar and SP Kolasib sat for discussions at Lailapur Forest Beat Office. Mizoram said they would sit for discussion only after goods-laden trucks were allowed to enter their territory from Assam. Accordingly SP Cachar, Banwar Lal Meena and DIG Southern Range Dilip Dey tried their best to make the trucks move but the drivers revolted and insisted on permanent solution to the border dispute before starting their engine.
A meeting convened on Tuesday at Silchar DC’s conference hall along with the SPs and DCs of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi and a resolution taken by the Assam government that they wanted peace but for that the security forces of Mizoram must move back.
Later on Wednesday, a Home Secretary-level meet was held in Lailapur between Home Secretary of Mizoram, Pi Lalbiaksangi along with the IGP Law and Order, and Assam Home Commissioner Gyanendra Tripathi along with ADGP Mukesh Agarwal. The meeting commenced at 11 am and went on for four hours but failed to bring out any fruitful outcome.
At 3 pm on Wednesday, Assam and Mizoram officials left for Silchar for tripartite talks at Silchar’s circuit house as Union Joint Secretary (Home) and in-charge of Northeast, Satyendra Garg also reached Silchar. After another three hours of marathon meeting, a decision was declared to the press that the Mizoram government would push back its security forces from Assam’s land and peace would be restored. Vehicles too would move without any hassles.
However, on Thursday, goods-laden trucks were sent to Mizoram but the security forces of the state did not move an inch from their alleged occupancy. Meanwhile, Mizoram CM tweeted that the press release issued by Assam government was full of misinformation, opening up a fresh ‘debate’ or a graver ‘dispute’ between the two states.
As locals await for a permanent solution to the dispute, politicians from different camps are seen rallying to the spot delivering judgment suited to their own agenda. All India Mahila Congress President, Sushmita Dev blamed the Assam government over its failure to protect its own land while state minister and sitting MLA of the disputed constituency Dhalai, Parimal Suklabaidya blamed the nefarious designs of some for this present crisis.
While a round of talks is currently going on with the Centre’s intervention, the situation at NH-306 that connects Mizoram with other parts of the country via Silchar remains grim. Assam-Mizoram border dispute is a several decades old issue that has seen eruption from time to time. Mizoram alongside sharing border with three north-east states — Assam, Tripura and Manipur — also shares a stretch of 722 km border with neighbouring countries, Bangladesh and Myanmar.