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Friday, September 24, 2021

Assam-MIzoram border dispute: Zoramthanga, Sarma say FIRs against officers to be withdrawn

Mizoram says 'crisis due to blockade', Assam says no orders against movement of trucks

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati |
Updated: August 3, 2021 1:02:33 pm
Assam, MizoramPolice personnel stand guard outside Mizoram House in Guwahati (File/PTI)

Both Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga and Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said they would withdraw the FIRs registered against their respective officers in connection with the July 26 violence, in what can be seen as further de-escalation at the Assam-Mizoram border.

While Zoramthanga on Monday said he had directed the police to withdraw the FIR filed at Vairengte police station, Kolasib district, against all accused Assam officials, Sarma said he would “heartily reciprocate this positive gesture” and withdraw the cases against Kolasib Deputy Commissioner H Lalthlangliana and Vairengte SDPO Thartea Hrangchal.

Four other officials — SP Vanlalfaka Ralte, Additional SP David JB, Vairengte SDO (Civil) C Lalrempuia, and India Reserve Battalion Additional SP Bruce Kibby — had also received summons by Assam Police. G P Singh, Special DGP, Assam Police, told The Indian Express that the charges against the four had not been dropped since “they were at the spot when firing took place”.

As a result of the border clashes, six police personnel died and 50 were injured on the Assam side. There were about seven injuries on the Mizoram side.

The move comes a day after both CMs sought to dial down tension after talks with Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

In a Twitter post Monday evening, he wrote: “In order to build a conducive atmosphere for amicable solution to the #MizoramAssamBorder dispute & to reduce the plight of suffering citizens,I have directed @mizorampolice to withdraw FIR dt. 26.07.2021 filed at Vairengte,Kolasib District, Mizoram against all the accused persons.”

A couple of hours later, Sarma tweeted: “I learn that Honble CM @ZoramthangaCM has asked @mizorampolice to withdraw FIR dt 26.7.21 against our officers. I heartily reciprocate this positive gesture and ask @assampolice to withdraw cases against DC Kolasib and SDPO Virengte.”

He added that he was sending two of his cabinet ministers, Atul Bora and Ashok Singhal, to Aizawl for further dialogue on August 5. “Assam stands committed to ensuring peace on its borders, paving the way for a peaceful & developed North-East,” Sarma wrote.

On Sunday, Mizoram government said it was dropping Sarma’s name from the FIR, following which Sarma announced that he had directed the police to withdraw the case against K Vanlalvena, Rajya Sabha MP from Mizoram who had been booked in connection with a media interview he had given.

The border, however, remains tense, said Ramandeep Kaur, SP Cachar district.

“While we retreated from the disputed territory on the day itself and took position behind the CRPF, Mizoram Police still has not de-escalated and their personnel are occupying the same position as they were on July 26,” Kaur told The Indian Express.

Assam, Mizoram At least seven people from Assam, including six police personnel, were killed in the violence amid the border dispute between the two Northeastern states. (Express Photo by Tora Agarwala)

However, her Kolasib counterpart Ralte said the “tension was less”. “Assam Police is still there at their post, so is the CRPF and so are we,” he said.

Meanwhile, a freeze on movement of essential supplies from Assam to Mizoram through Lailapur-Vairengte continues.

On Monday, Mizoram Health Minister Dr R Lalthangliana in a statement said the state was “under serious crisis due to a blockade created by the Assam Government”. He requested the Prime Minister and Home Minister to intervene at the earliest.

“Following the border dispute which occurred on the 26th of July 2021, Assam Government on the 29th July 2021 summoned all the transporters in Guwahati who have been operating in Mizoram to stop transporting any goods into Mizoram due to ‘security concerns’. This resulted into a complete halt of any type of goods coming to the state including basic medicines, life-saving medicines and Covid-19 medicines as well. Even oxygen cylinders, oxygen plant materials, and Covid-19 test kits have been blocked,” he said.

“Never in the history of this country has anyone resorted to such a draconian and inhumane act to his fellow being,” he added.

David H Lalthangliana, Deputy Secretary, Home Department, Mizoram, said, “The drivers are willing to proceed to Mizoram… we have asked Assam to please ensure that they are released immediately. Once they are in Mizoram, we will ensure their safety.”

Cachar’s Kaur said there were some trucks at the border and less movement through Lailapur, despite there being “no directions from Government of Assam restricting their movement. We have asked them to move but many do not want to risk going themselves.”

She added that supplies were continuing to Mizoram through Tripura and Manipur. “Supply from Assam is going to Mizoram but there has been a slight diversion in the route considering the tension,” she said.

Ralte said both parties should negotiate so that there is free flow in movement of goods.

Meanwhile, several BJP MPs from northeastern states met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. Assam MP and BJP national general secretary Dilip Saikia said the group presented a memorandum on regional issues, including the border issue. They also alleged that the Congress was politicising it.

Mizoram Governor Dr Hari Babu Kambhampati met Shah and Modi to discuss the border issue. PTI quoted him saying that Shah was trying to defuse the situation.

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