As many as six Assam Police personnel were killed today as violence along the Assam-Mizoram border spiralled out of control yesterday. “Six Assam Police personnel killed in firing by miscreants from Mizoram along (the) inter-state border in Cachar district,” Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Twitter after clashes erupted between security officials and locals from the neighbouring state.
The tweet comes just hours after Union home minister Amit Shah asked the chief ministers of both the states to find a solution to the border dispute. Assam and Mizoram had agreed to resolve the issue and maintain peace, according to sources.
Assam-Mizoram border tensions boil over
The situation along the Mizoram-Assam border has been on the boil since June-end when Assam Police allegedly took control over Aitlanghnar about 5 km from Vairengte, accusing Mizoram of encroaching on its territory.
Since then there have been repeated clashes between the two states around the disputed area. Interestingly, both the chief ministers have also engaged in a Twitter faceoff and petitioned Amit Shah against each other.
‘Eight farmers’ huts in Manipur set ablaze’
The latest round of tension flared after eight farmers’ huts were set ablaze by unidentified miscreants on 25 July, a senior police officer of Mizoram said.
The incident happened a day after a meeting of the chief ministers of northeastern states chaired by Union home minister Amit Shah in Shillong, during which the border issue was raised.
Mizoram deputy inspector-general of police (Northern Range), Lalbiakthanga Khiangte, said that at least eight unoccupied farm huts near Aitlang stream in the trouble-torn area were torched around 11:30 pm on 25 July. He said these belonged to farmers from Vairengte, the nearest border village from Assam.
According to sources, after the Union home minister’s intervention, police forces from both the states have retreated from the disputed site on the border.
‘Miscreants from Mizoram indulging in stone pelting’
The Assam Police on its part claimed that at least half a dozen of its personnel were injured in Cachar district in stone-pelting by miscreants from Mizoram during the day.
Locals on the Assam side alleged that miscreants in hundreds, armed with sticks, rods and even rifles, attacked personnel of the Assam Police at Lailapur and damaged several vehicles, including those belonging to the office of the deputy commissioner. “It’s unfortunate that (a) large number of miscreants from Mizoram are indulging in stone pelting and such forms of attack at Assam Government Officials, stationed at Lailapur to protect Assam’s land from encroachment,” the Assam Police tweeted. “We strongly condemn these acts of vandalism and reiterate our resolve to protect Assam’s boundary,” it added.
‘Ready to visit Aizawl and discuss these issues’
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted, “I’ve just spoken to Mizoram CM Zoramthanga ji. I have reiterated that Assam will maintain (the) 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.”
Assam chief minister had earlier said that the situation along the interstate border with Mizoram is currently “fragile” and it will take some time to resolve the disputes with the neighbouring state.
Assam minister Parimal Suklabaidya claimed that firing was still on from the Mizoram side. “We are yet to determine the number of injured persons. The CM has taken stock of the situation and has spoken to the Centre,” he said.
‘Assam Police be instructed to withdraw from Vairengte’
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on his part urged that Assam Police be instructed to withdraw from Vairengte for the safety of civilians.
Zoramthanga had raised the border issue during the meeting of northeast chief ministers, chaired by Union home minister Amit Shah last 24 July. He had said that the border disputes between the states of the northeast region are a legacy of the colonial era which the present government inherited from its predecessor. He had suggested that the status-quo may be maintained as of 10 May, as suggested by the Assam chief minister in his telephonic discussion of 29 June with him.
Both the chief ministers have had heated arguments on Twitter over the issue, at times sharing videos to prove their points.
‘Grenade explosions at inter-state border’
On 10 July, several crops and betel nut trees belonging to a Mizoram farmer were also reportedly damaged during the “eviction drive” at Buarchep near Phainuam village.
On the same day, a grenade was allegedly hurled on an Assam government team visiting the border by unknown people.
Both the states have been blaming each other for two back-to-back explosions across the border in the early hours of 11 July.