The Assam-Mizoram border dispute flared up on Monday with violent clashes at the border – near Assam’s Cachar district and Mizoram’s Kolasib district— in which six Assam policemen were killed and several others were injured. Several vehicles were also damaged in the clashes.
Top officials of Cachar district including Deputy Commissioner Keerthi Jalli and Superintendent of Police Nimbalkar Vaibhav Chandrakant have been camping at Lailapur area, the site where fresh violence took place.
The day also marked a Twitter war between the Chief Ministers of two states. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma appealed to his Mizoram counterpart PU Zoramthanga to intervene as the violence escalated. He also sought help from Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
According to Assam officials, a large number of people from Mizoram attacked them and entered six kilometres inside the state. On the other hand, Mizoram officials alleged that miscreants from Assam damaged a vehicle in which a Mizo couple was travelling to the state.
The border dispute between Assam and Mizoram is several decades old and in the past, violent clashes have taken place many times.
Beginning of the border dispute
When the British ruled India, the Northeastern region comprised three states-Assam, Manipur, and Tripura. Later, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram were created out of Greater Assam and the Northeast frontier agency merged with the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Mizoram, formerly known as Lushai Hills was created in 1972. In 1875, there was a notification differentiating Cachar Hills and Lushai Hills. In 1933, another notification demarcated Lushai Hills and the state of Manipur.
Post-1962 India-China border issue, the Government decided to create new political entities. The creation of states was aimed to integrate remote regions as well as fulfil the aspirations of various ethnic communities that were involved in insurgent movements.
After the creation of Mizoram, with Assam and Mizoram sharing borders, a border issue erupted as Mizoram did not accept the 1933 notification as the boundary was demarcated before the formation of the state.
The reason behind the recent flare-up
The tension at the border was simmering for the last few days after the Assam Police organized a drive to clear land that was encroached on by some people from Mizoram in Cachar district. On July 10, when Assam government officials visited the place unidentified persons attacked them with IEDs. The following day there were reports of two grenade explosions in the border area.
Assam Police since last week have been camping at two locations along the interstate boundary with Mizoram. Assam Police officials are camping at Khulicherra and Dholakhal near the inter-state border.
The last escalation was reported in June in the border area when policemen from both sides alleged intrusion against each other.
Long border between two states
The two states share a 164.6 km long inter-state border. Three districts of Mizoram – Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit— share a border with Assam's Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts.
On several occasions, tension flares up with locals from both sides accusing each other of intrusion or encroachment. Over the years there have been several clashes often leading to violence and arson.
Mizoram has already constituted a boundary commission to be headed by Deputy Chief Minister Twnluia. Home Minister Lalchamliana will be the vice-chairman.
On the other hand, Mizoram is not the only neighbour with which Assam has a border dispute. It has border disputes with other neighbours including Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.
First Published: IST