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Assam Mizoram- 13angle

Assam Mizoram Dispute

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History

  • Assam, a northeastern state of India, famous for its silk and tea lies along the Brahmaputra and Barak River. Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh border Assam on the north; to the east Nagaland and Manipur borders Assam; Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, and Bangladesh borders Assam on the South and West Bengal borders the west.

  • Mizoram, another northeastern state of India is the southernmost state of the northeast region. Tripura, Assam, and Manipur border Manipur along with the neighboring countries Bangladesh and Myanmar. The center carved out Mizoram from Assam as a Union Territory in 1972. The 53rd amendment of the Indian Constitution allowed the creation of Mizoram as a separate state on 20 February 1987.

  • Border disputes have existed quite many times in the northeast region of India. There have been border disputes between Assam-Mizoram, Assam-Arunachal Pradesh, Assam-Nagaland, and Assam-Arunachal Pradesh. The border dispute between Assam and Mizoram has an aged history too.

  • There existed conflicts between the British and the tribes of Lushai Hills, i.e., the Mizo tribes. In 1871, John Ware Edgar, the then Deputy Commissioner of Cachar district of Assam signed a treaty/boundary agreement with Lushai (Mizo) Chief Suakpuilala.

  • According to records in existence, the first enforcement of political borders between Assam and Mizoram was aroused in 1926. Lushai Hills was the name of Mizoram during that time. The then Superintendent of Lushai Hills N.E Parry arrested five men returning from Shillong (a part of Assam back then).

  • Notification of 1933 defined an Inner Line or Boundary Line between Lushai Hills district (Mizoram) and Assam. Based on this notification of 1933, the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganisation) Act, 1971 defines the boundary between Assam and Mizoram in independent India. The usage of the 1933 notification was disputed after Mizoram became a state in 1987.

  • There was mutual acceptance of the border but following encroachment Mizoram disputed the border. The following decade of 1980 and onwards saw numerous economic blockades, fights, and buildings torched. The most recent clash happened in July 2021.

The Assam-Mizoram Border Dispute, 2020 And 2021

  • In October 2020, residents of Mizoram and Assam clashed twice in a week’s span. This clash led injured of around 8 people. People involved in the clashes also torched huts and small shops. On October 9, 2020, a clash took place on the border of Karimganj (Assam) and Mamit (Mizoram) districts. A betel nut plantation and a farm hut belonging to two Mizoram residents were set on fire.

  • In another incident in the same month, a clash erupted between residents of Lailapur village of Assam’s Cachar district and residents of localities near Variegate in Mizoram’s Kolasib district. People from Lailapur attacked residents of Mizoram and Mizoram Police personnel by pelting them with stones. Mizoram residents mobilized themselves and went after them.

  • On 26 July 2021, a violent clash with arms took place at the Assam Mizoram border. The clash erupted to police officers from both sides allegedly firing at each other. 6 Assam Police Personnel was killed in this war-like clash. The clash escalated between residents and officials leading to unfathomable aftermath.

  • On 26 July 2021, the IGP, Assam Police led a 200 Assam Police team with the accompaniment of the DC, SP, and DFO of Cachar to the Vairengte area. Assam Government mentioned they went there to request the Mizoram side not to disturb the status quo while Mizoram mentioned it was a force invasion. It remained unclear what triggered the attack, but there were claims by Mizoram Civilians and over social media that it was Assam officials, who fired first. As such, Mizoram retaliated back in defense. Around 80 people were injured. The Assam Police waved a white flag leading to the end of the fired clash.

Land In Question

  • The boundary between the two states is a 165 km long border. The land in dispute is a 1,318 sq. km area of hills and forests. Assam states that this land is part of their constitutional boundary while Mizoram claims it’s their own.

  • Mizoram accepts the Inner Line of 1875 that demarcated from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873. This Inner Line boundary separated the Lushai Hills from the plains of Cachar in Assam. This was a mutual acceptance by the Mizo Chiefs back then.

  • However, the people of Mizoram find the 1933 Inner Line boundary unacceptable. According to them, the 1933 demarcation didn’t happen with the approval and consultation of Mizo chiefs. This demarcates a boundary between Lushai Hills and Manipur.

  • Mizoram states that this line is an imaginary line pushed farther from the Inner Line of 1875. Mizoram wants the boundary demarcated based on the 1875 notification.

Assam Official’s Statements And Opinions

  • The DC of Karimganj, Anbamuthan MP, mentioned that the contested land historically cultivated by Mizoram residents on paper fell within the Singla Forest Reserve under Karimganj’s jurisdiction. Keerthi Jali, then Deputy Commissioner of Cachar also mentions that the contested land belongs to Assam as per state’s records.

  • Assam Government mentioned that Mizoram constructed a road destroying the status quo in the Lailapur area.

  • Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sharma mentioned to the press after the violent incident about the use of snipers by unidentified men. He stated that the Mizoram Government must inquire about the use of arms by civilians. He also mentioned that civilians are not supposed to possess and use arms against Indian citizens. Assam CM also mentioned that Assam won’t give up their land. “We will die but we will protect our land”, said the Chief Minister.

  • Assam CM faced allegations that he made provocative statements regarding the dispute. He disagreed to it and said, “I spoke only after the killing of our policemen. If I do not speak for them, I would be letting them down. You must understand that Assam police have been fighting ULFA and other insurgencies for a long time. We cannot allow their morale to drop”.

  • Videos surfaced on social media where Mizoram police officials celebrated after the fight. Himanta Biswa Sarma condemned this act through a tweet.

  • About the FIR filed against the Assam CM, Himanta Biswa Sarma, he mentioned that if his arrest can solve the issue he would do so. He mentioned that he called the Mizoram CM at least 15-20 times on the day of the incident. He also mentioned that Assam doesn’t need to file FIR, it should be investigated by any Central Agency. It is the question of 6 lives that were lost and even the victim’s family has every right to file an investigation.

  • Jayanta Malla Baruah, secretary to Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the FIR by Mizoram was illegal. He said, “Only Assam Police have the right to register case into the incident which took place inside Assam territory. The people of Mizoram have filed a case against the Assam Chief Minister, it is outside the territory. How can you file a case regarding the incident, which did not happen in your territory? Whatever the incident that happened, it happened in the land of Assam”.

Mizoram Official’s Statements And Opinions

Mizoram Official Statement on Twitter- 13angle.com
  • H Lalthangliana, Deputy Commissioner of Kolasib mentioned that the land in question should maintain the status quo according to an agreement between Assam and Mizoram a few years back. He mentions that people from Lailapur of Assam broke the status quo and constructed huts. People from Mizoram thus torched them.

  • Dating back to the October 9, 2020 incident, Mizoram officials mention that the land in question has been cultivated for a long span of time by residents of Mizoram.

  • Civil Societies of Mizoram believes it’s illegal Bangladeshis on the Assam side who encroaches and causes these problems.

  • Mizoram officials mention that the violent clash erupted because 200 policemen from Assam forcefully invaded one of Mizoram’s police outpost in Vairengte. They also mentioned that the team of 200 policemen led by officials also forcibly overran the post manned by CRPF.

  • Mizoram CM, Zoramthanga mentioned that on 26 July 2021 Assam Police fired first while Mizoram just retaliated in defense. He said that if a police force tries to capture another armed force post, it is clear that they won’t simply surrender and give up. Assam tried to capture the post set up by Mizoram. Thus to negotiate Mizoram sent their SP. While the negotiating accompanied with chaos by residents were going on, Assam fired tear gas says Mizoram CM. He also said that Mizoram fired back just three tear gas and then Assam started firing.

  • Mizoram CM didn’t respond to the use of firearms by civilians.

  • Mizoram filed an FIR against Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma and six top officials on charges of attempt to murder and assault.

Where Does The Issue Stand At Present?

Where does the issue stand at present- 13angle.com
  • The deadly incident that escalated two days after Home Minister, Amit Shah had a meeting with the CMs of Assam and Mizoram, demanded intervention by the centre.

  • Ministers of both the states bent on finding a further permanent solution to the problem. Assam and Mizoram agreed in August to withdraw forces from disputed border areas. Assam withdrew the travel advisory devised on July 29 that asked its citizens to avoid Mizoram. The center forwarded an agreement according to which paramilitary forces would be deployed at the four km stretch disputed area until a permanent solution is found.

  • Both the Governments issued a joint statement that stated, “Representatives of governments of Assam and Mizoram agree to take all necessary measures to promote, preserve and maintain peace and harmony amongst the people living in Assam and Mizoram, particularly in the border areas”.

  • This meeting was held at the Aizawl Club. Ashok Singhal, urban development minister of Assam, border protection minister Atul Bora and home secretary, GD Tripathi attended this meeting from Assam’s side. Home Minister of Mizoram, Lalchamliana, revenue minister Lalruatkimaand and home secretary Vanlalngaihsaka attended the meeting from Mizoram’s side.

  • The joint statement also added, “Both the state governments agree to maintain peace in the interstate border areas and welcomed deployment on the neutral force by the government of India in this regard. For this purpose, both the states shall not send their respective forest and police forces for patrolling, domination, enforcement, or for fresh deployment to any of the areas where confrontation and conflict have taken place between the police forces of the two states during recent times”.

  • The six cops who died in the tragic clash are SI (AB) Swapan Kumar Roy, Havildar Shyam Sundar Dusd, Constable Samsuz Zaman Barbhuiya, Constable Liton Suklabaidya, Constable Mazrul Hoque Barbhuiya, and Constable Nazrul Hussain.

  • As of now, both the states wish for peace and a permanent solution.

Top 13 Interesting Facts About The Assam-Mizoram Dispute

  1. Mizoram was previously a part of Assam. Lushai Hills was its name. It was a district of Assam.

  2. This age-long dispute dates back to two notifications of 1875 and 1933.

  3. Along with the 6 police personnel a bystander was also killed.

  4. Assam government conferred Special Service Medal to the 6 cops killed during the Assam Mizoram dispute.

  5. Firearms were seen with Mizoram civilians.

  6. Border disputes between Assam and Mizoram are more frequent than border disputes among other Northeast states.

  7. Among other notable border disputes, clash between Assam and Nagaland in 1985 can be mentioned. This took place in Merapani, a town in Nagaland. 41 people, including Assam policemen, died in this fight.

  8. Aizawl, Kolasib, and Mamit, 3 districts from Assam share the 165 km border with Assam’s Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi district.

  9. Villagers and village councils from both states approached each other to try to normalize the situation. People from Mizoram’s Viarengte Village Council approached Lailapur in Cachar to hold people-to-people discussions. The Chief Minister of Mizoram knew about this step taken.

  10. These groups set down rules that “If someone comes from Assam’s side, we will get the information before visit. Our teams will take care of the security of the visitors. But this will be applicable only for temporary visits.”

  11. Residents of Mizoram and Assam clashed twice in the period of a week in October 2020.

  12. Paramilitary forces have been deployed in the disputed areas until a permanent solution is found.

  13. Even 2018 saw a round of violence in the Assam-Mizoram border in Hailakandi when police lathi-charged students.
Assam Mizoram- 13angle

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Blossom Hazarika

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13angle

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