Silchar: The Assam-Mizoram inter-state border, which witnessed a violent showdown in July last year leading to the death of six Assam policemen, is restive again. Over the past two weeks, there have been skirmishes between the two sides, with houses and roads allegedly being built and forest resources being burnt and destroyed in disputed sites near the border areas.

At least six policemen were killed, and nearly 60 security personnel were injured during a clash between the two states in Lailapur, about 45km from Silchar, on July 26, 2021. During a meeting on August 5, 2021, attended by Assam and Mizoram state representatives, the two states signed an agreement to restore peace and CRPF jawans were deployed in the border areas after a few days of the meeting as per the Centre’s instructions.

But it seems that the agreements have not been adhered to. In a conversation with EastMojo, residents of the Lailapur area said, “Mizoram residents built several houses and roads in disputed sites along the Lailapur-Vairengte (Assam-Mizoram) border in the past few weeks. They intend to capture Assam’s lands illegally.”

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Locals said a few CRPF jawans confronted Mizos last week (after receiving complaints/information about houses being built in disputed sites near the border) and asked them about the houses. “The Mizos, however, said they were building the houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and had the permission of the Vairengte village council president (VCP). The CRPF personnel, thereafter, clicked photographs of the houses being built and returned to their camp,” the locals added.

Assam-Mizoram inter-state dispute
A road constructed in a disputed area near the Assam-Mizoram inter-state border adjoining Cachar district.

A few locals also alleged that valuable trees and plants in Jorkhal, about 47km from Silchar, under the Moniyarkhal forest beat have been burnt by Mizo miscreants in the past month. “Though the unlawful activities are being carried out in broad daylight, the forest department is oblivious and taking no action,” added one local.

Raju Barbhuiya, a member of an NGO Society of Activists for Forest and Environment (SAFE), said, “Mizos are capturing areas of Assam along the inter-state border, and they would continue doing so till stringent measures to prevent them are taken.” He demanded strict action be taken to stop Mizos from continuing their activities and sought the intervention of forest and environment minister Parimal Suklabaidya in this regard.

Assam-Mizoram dispute
A destroyed forest area near the Assam-Mizoram border.

A member of another organisation – Non-Mizo Protection Forum (NMPF) – said, “The situation today mirrors the conditions before the July 26-incident, and the area may witness another bloodbath in the absence of prompt action.”

A source said multiple bullets were fired in a jungle near an Assam police’s border outpost (BOP) camp in Eolatilla (Ghambairtilla), around 60km from Silchar, in southern Dholai along the inter-state border on the night of March 17. “While no one was injured, the incident caused fear and anxiety among residents. It is being suspected that Mizo miscreants had fired the bullets to hunt animals for food. News stories of the incident were published in some local/vernacular newspapers, but did not reach the regional media, the source claimed.

Former Congress legislator Rumi Nath visited the Assam-Mizoram border a few days ago and inspected the alleged illegal activities by Mizos. She told EastMojo that during her visit to the border areas earlier this month, she observed that Mizos had intruded on several sites in Assam’s territory, but the authorities concerned are silent. She had spoken to a senior official of the 147 battalion camp, CRPF and requested necessary action to prevent the Mizos from illegally capturing the state’s lands, she said.

She demanded that the decades-long border dispute between Assam and Mizoram be settled amicably and sought the Centre’s intervention.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) secretary Sanjeev Roy told EastMojo: “Mizos had built at least 40 houses in Lailapur (on Assam’s territory) recently, but the state government did not take any action. Besides Cachar, the Mizos have captured Assam’s lands in Karimganj and Hailakandi districts as well.”

Cachar deputy commissioner Keerthi Jalli told EastMojo that the matter will be investigated “to find out if any illegal activities are going on along the Assam-Mizoram border areas.” Any intrusion into Assam’s territory will not be tolerated, Jalli said.

Assam-Mizoram border dispute
Security personnel inspect areas on a boat along the Assam-Mizoram border on March 29.

Cachar superintendent of police Ramandeep Kaur could not be reached for her comments. WhatsApp messages sent on her number were also unanswered.

Dholai BJP MLA and forest and environment minister Parimal Suklabaidya, who is the only minister from Barak Valley, said, “The CRPF are deployed along the Assam-Mizoram border and they are keeping a close watch on all sorts of activities there. The situation along the border areas is normal now.”

An official of the Cachar forest department, who was part of a team that inspected the border areas, told reporters on Tuesday evening that they found a road built on Assam’s soil and suspected that it has been done by Mizos. The official earnestly urged the government for necessary action to maintain peace and normalcy in the border areas.

The president of the Mizoram-based Young Mizo Association (YMA), Kolasib unit Thomas D. Lalengliana told EastMojo on Tuesday that the farmers’ society (read farmers) near the border area is digging up roads and carrying out construction works to prepare a ring road. He refrained from commenting anything further on the issue.

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