Assam and Mizoram Agree to Form Regional Committee to Resolve Border Dispute
Image Courtesy: ndtv.com
On Wednesday, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga met with his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma in New Delhi to discuss the border dispute between the two neighbouring states. The meeting that lasted about 25 minutes, was held at Assam House. Both Chief Ministers reviewed the progress made during a previous meeting of high-level delegations in Aizawl in August.
— Zoramthanga (@ZoramthangaCM) September 21, 2022
Referring to the outcome of the meeting Sarma tweeted, “We are in the process of forming a regional committee to discuss and resolve the issue.”
As SabrangIndia had reported previously, at the meeting held on August 9, Assam was represented by minister Atul Bora, while State Home Minister Lalchamliana represented Mizoram. At that time, they had released a joint statement saying, “Both the States reaffirm the Joint Statement of 5th August 2021 in letter and spirit. Both the States agreed to promote and maintain peace and to prevent any untoward incident along the borders, the Deputy Commissioners of the bordering districts of both States shall meet at least once in two months.”
The next ministerial level meeting is scheduled to take place in October in Guwahati.
Brief background of the dispute
Assam and Mizoram share a 164.4-kilometer-long border and the dispute is over 150 years old. In colonial times, Mizoram was a district of Assam and was called Lushai Hills. In 1875 a notification was issued that differentiated Lushai Hills from the Cachar plains.
Today, three districts of Mizoram — Kolasib, Aizawl and Mamit — share a border with southern Assam's Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts. It is alleged that in many places the border is not properly demarcated leaving it porous, thus leading to encroachment.
The border dispute talks had to be put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but intermittent violence has been reported in the region even during the lockdown.
In fact, as we had reported earlier, on October 17, 2020, clashes had broken out in Vairengte, when people from Lailapur broke the status quo and allegedly constructed some temporary huts. People from Mizoram side then went and allegedly set fire to them.
In the same month, on October 9, 2020, similar clashes had broken out along the border between Assam’s Karimganj district and Mizoram’s Mamit district when a hut and betel nut plantation belonging to two Mizoram farmers were set on fire. Though the area has been cultivated historically by Mizoram farmers, the spot falls in the territory of the Singla Forest Reserve that falls under the jurisdiction of Karimganj district of Assam.
The July 26, 2021 clashes
SabrangIndia had previously reported the July 26 incident was triggered at an autorickshaw stand in Vairengte, Mizoram and involved vehicles travelling to and from Lailapur, Assam.
Trouble began when a large number of Assam Police personnel including an Inspector General (IG), Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Superintendent of Police (SP) as well as a District Collector reached the area purportedly to investigate alleged Mizo incursion into Assam territory. They faced opposition from local Mizo groups.
Policemen clashed with armed protesters, while chief ministers of both states had a war of words on Twitter. While Mizoram CM Zoramthanga claimed that an Assam Police vehicle ran over a local check post of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Assam Chief Minister accused Mizoram Police of opening fire using Light Machine Guns (LMG).
Six Assam Police personnel were reported killed in the clashes. Assam issued a travel advisory against Mizoram and an informal economic blockade began when a major highway was blocked. Mizoram raised concerns about trucks carrying Covid-19 medication and oxygen cylinder left stuck on the highway in Lailapur ever since the conflict erupted, and blamed “miscreants” from Assam for virtually setting up a blockade on National Highway 306, which is virtually Mizoram’s lifeline.
Though the blockade was lifted later and violence was also halted, the wider dispute remains unresolved so far.
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