Two days after Assam-Mizoram border witnessed arson over a territory dispute, officials on Monday said the situation has calmed down. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal spoke over the phone with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga.
In Delhi, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla held a virtual meeting with chief ministers and chief secretaries of both states.
Sources in the two states and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the MHA has conveyed to Sonowal and Zoramthanga that the first priority should be to stop violence and maintain calm at the border, and that any border dispute between the two states would be resolved in due course.
Sources said both were also informed about a committee of four joint secretaries, which was formed three months ago by the MHA to resolve border disputes among states in the Northeast. The joint secretaries, sources said, will visit all inter-state borders and talk to stakeholders to resolve disputes and settle the issues.
The bureaucrats have been drawn from various divisions of the MHA, including the Kashmir division, Left Wing Extremism division and the Police division.
“The situation is currently under control and violence has abated. Both states are working towards maintaining calm and we are hopeful this won’t recur,” an MHA official said.
Violence broke out Saturday between residents of Lailapur village in Assam’s Cachar district and residents of localities near Vairengte in Mizoram’s Kolasib district. This was the second such clash between residents of the two states this month — on October 9, there were tensions on the border of Assam’s Karimganj and Mizoram’s Mamit districts.
The boundary dispute between the two states has been simmering since the formation of Mizoram as a separate state in the 1980s. According to an agreement between governments of Assam and Mizoram some years ago, status quo should be maintained in no-man’s land in the border area. However, clashes have erupted from time to time over the issue.
“No incident of violence has been reported since yesterday (Sunday). We are in constant touch with the concerned officials in Mizoram,” Keerthi Jalli, Deputy Commissioner of Cachar, told The Indian Express Monday. “Vehicles carrying food and other essentials, whose drivers were apprehensive yesterday, will go today. They have been assured by both sides that there is nothing to worry.”
“Officials on both sides have spoken and resolved the issue of the roadblock. If necessary, police escort will be provided by Assam on their side and by Mizoram police on our side,” Kolasib Deputy Commissioner H Lalthangliana said.
According to officials in Mizoram, which shares a 165-km boundary with Assam, the violence broke out on Saturday after some people from Lailapur started throwing stones at Mizoram police personnel deployed near the border. “In turn, Mizoram residents mobilised and went after them,” Lalthangliana had said on Sunday.
According to Mizoram officials, at least seven persons on the Mizoram side suffered injuries, and one of them is admitted to hospital. On Assam side, one person suffered minor injuries, an Assam Police officer said.
Mizoram officials said the two states had agreed some years ago to maintain status quo in the no-man’s land in the border area, but people from Lailapur allegedly built some temporary huts, which provoked people on the Mizoram side. Jalli, however, said the contested land belongs to Assam as per the state’s records.
In an official statement, Sonowal said he had apprised Modi about the latest situation and informed the PM about his discussion with Zoramthanga, as well as the steps taken by the Assam government to defuse tension. Shah assured Sonowal of all support to restore peace on the border between the states.
After speaking with his Mizoram counterpart, Sonowal tweeted, “We agreed to maintain the law and order situation of the area so that peace returns immediately. We resolve to work together for maintaining brotherhood between both the states.”
Zoramthanga’s office tweeted: “Home Minister @AmitShah, DoNER Minister @DrJitendraSingh, Home Secretary & others have telephoned HCM @ZoramthangaCM regarding the situation in Mizoram’s border. They expressed support of the CM’s wish for peaceful resolve of the situation.”
“The issue has been festering since the British Raj, when inner lines were demarcated according their administrative needs. Unfortunately, it could not be settled once and for all when the state was created in independent India. The result is both states continue to have a differing perception of the border,” a source privy to the issue said.
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