Updated: August 1, 2021 7:41:22 am
A day after they summoned each other’s officials over the July 26 border incident in which six Assam Police personnel were killed in firing and clashes, Assam and Mizoram refused to honour the summons. The deadlock is adding to tensions between the two states.
Referring to the Mizoram Police FIR which names him and six officials — it has been filed in Vairengte, the town in Kolasib district which borders Assam’s Cachar district where Assam Police too has lodged an FIR against Mizoram officials — Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters Saturday: “It is childish of them (Mizoram), but the fact is that the place where the clashes happened belongs to Assam. So if a case has to be registered, the jurisdiction falls under Assam Police. But now since cases have been registered (by both states), I feel both governments should hand it over to the CBI or NIA.”
In a Twitter post, Sarma said he would be “very happy” to join the probe but asked why it was not being handed over to a “neutral agency”.
“Why is the case not being handed over to a neutral agency, especially when the place of occurrence is well within the constitutional territory of Assam?”. He said he had already conveyed it to Zoramthanga, his Mizoram counterpart.
Assam DGP Bhaskarjyoti Mahanta said: “We don’t recognise the summons or the case registered by Mizoram Police. They simply cannot say they have jurisdiction over a land that does not belong to them. This (case) does not mean anything to us.”
Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana, referring to the Assam FIR, said Mizoram was not going to respect summons from Assam Police.
On the impasse, a senior Assam official told The Sunday Express that “nothing has changed at the border” though the July 28 meeting in New Delhi — Chief Secretaries and DGPs of the two states met the Union Home Secretary — decided that Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) will be deployed in the disturbed area, and the two state governments will work out an arrangement in coordination with the Ministry of Home Affairs to facilitate the functioning of neutral forces within a “reasonable time frame”.
As of Saturday, both states had their forces at the border, along with the CAPF — neither ready to back down.
According to the Assam official, when the Chief Secretaries and DGPs met Union Home Ministry officials in early July — before the July 26 incident — discussions had led to the framing of a three-point understanding. “One was that they will withdraw their forces from the posts/check gates they had built during the Covid-19 lockdown, that no new constructions will be made, and the status quo will be maintained.” “However, at the last minute, the Mizo side refused to sign it,” the official claimed. He alleged that Mizoram had ramped up construction of border posts, roads etc ever since October 2020. “We even suggested that we should look at satellite imagery pre-October 2020 and solve it in a scientific manner, but Mizoram refused,” he said.
After the July 26 incident, the officials met again in New Delhi two days later. “It was suggested that we withdraw our forces to Lailapur, and Mizos to Vairengte. But even that was refused. The Mizoram Chief Secretary then had a word with his Chief Minister, and they said both states will reposition the location of camps into another area which will be determined by the Chief Ministers. However, they backtracked again. Finally, it was decided that a neutral force will be in place, and the Chief Ministers would discuss the next steps within a suitable time frame,” the official said.
Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana said such an impasse had been reached because “if Assam moves like this, we have to as well.”
He said Mizoram would not budge from its stand on the 1875 boundary notification since it was the “only legitimate notification” in their perspective.
“We are going to stand by it since that was the only notified boundary where Mizos were consulted. The other notifications which followed have absolutely no ground,” he said.
Members of the Mizoram Boundary Committee, formed on July 23, passed a resolution Friday that the state’s northern side would follow the 1875 boundary demarcation.
Lalchamliana said the Mizoram government was all for “solving the problem amicably across the table”. “This problem has deep roots and it has not been solved by previous governments either,” he said.
Asked why Mizoram was not willing to withdraw its forces from the border at Vairengte, he said it was “not possible at the moment”.
“At the moment, my Chief Minister has said it is not possible, I cannot answer why, but it is the stand of the Chief Minister,” he said.
Meanwhile, a group of MLAs from Assam, led by Assembly Speaker Biswajit Daimary, visited the patrolling post in Lailapur, Silchar to meet police officers regarding the ground situation. The delegation included Sibsagar MLA Akhil Gogoi.
Jayanta Malla Baruah, MLA and Political Secretary to the Assam Chief Minister, said the boundary of the state was safe and “not an inch of our land” would be compromised.
“During times like this, we expect all political and non-political organisations to stand with the Government of Assam for the greater cause of Aai Axomi. We hope this dispute will end soon and peace will prevail in the border areas,” he said.
MLAs from Barak Valley districts of Assam, cutting across party lines, met in Silchar and said they will move court against Mizoram’s Kolasib district SP for his alleged role in the clash.
In another development Saturday, Chief Minister Sarma announced de-escalation of tension on the state’s border with Nagaland.
“In a major breakthrough towards de-escalating tensions at Assam-Nagaland border, the two Chief Secretaries have arrived at an understanding to immediately withdraw states’ forces from border locations to their respective base camps,” he said.
In a Twitter post, Sarma said: “This is a historic step in our relations. My gratitude to HCM Sri @Neiphiu_Rio for working with #Assam in restoring peace on the border. Assam is committed to ensuring peace along all its borders & strives for social & economic prosperity of #NorthEast region.”