Tensions are simmering between two states in North East India. Border disputes between Assam and Mizoram have been a cause for concern for quite some time and under current circumstances, it has the potential to create a severe deterioration of relationship between the two states. According to a forest department report quoted by Assam Tribune, Mizoram forces are still within Assam’s territory even after promising to withdraw a couple of weeks earlier.
The report notes, “Unlike the usual incidents of encroachment of forest lands by general public, the recent encroachment and land grabbing by Mizo forces appears to be prompted by the Mizoram government. However, this is not the first instance of incursion by Mizoram forces inside the territory of Assam.”
The report states further, “The personnel who are illegally occupying forest lands inside the territory of Assam have taken a very aggressive position regarding their claim that the recently occupied lands belongs to the territory of Mizoram… these personnel are in no mood to accept the constitutional boundary of Assam & Mizoram or to respect the notification of March 9, 1933 that defines the boundary of the States of Assam and Mizoram.”
“Due to establishment of IR Battalion camps inside the territory of Assam, Cachar Division stands to lose control over nearly 700 hectares of forest land in the Innerline Reserved Forest area,” it added. The report further says that only the Government of India could defuse the border tensions and emphasized on the necessity to resolve the boundary dispute once and for all.
DIG (Southern Range) Dilip Kumar Dey was quoted by Assam Tribune as saying that Mizoram personnel continue to be present at five locations inside two districts of Assam, namely, Cachar and Karimganj. “Sometimes they thin out, but later they again build up,” he said.
Meanwhile, Assam Minister for Forest and Environment, Parimal Suklabaidya has said that truck drivers are hesitant to enter Mizoram due to fear of “harassment” in the name of Coronavirus testing during his visit to the Assam-Mizoram border. Movement of trucks resumed on the 9th of November after a 12-blockade was lifted.
The blockade was begun by residents of Lailapur on the 28th of October demanding the withdrawal of Mizoram forces from what they claimed was Assam territory. “Mizoram will have to retreat eventually and we are not going to budge an inch of our territory,” Suklabaidya said but maintained that the state wants a cordial relationship with its neighbour.
October clashes at Assam-Mizoram Border
Clashes erupted at the Assam-Mizoram border between the people of the two states on the intervening night between the 17th and 18th of October, injuring people and leaving more than 20 temporary bamboo huts incinerated. Seven people were reportedly injured.
According to officials, the flare-up took place as villagers of Lailapur in Cachar district of Assam entered into a brawl with residents of Vairengte in Kolasib district of neighbouring Mizoram. As per reports, the border clashes were a result of the razing down of a makeshift hut used by local volunteers who manned the inter-state border near the Saihaipui ‘V’ village, about 3 km from Vairengte.