Aizawl : The Central Committee of Young Mizo Association also known as Central YMA (CYMA) on Sunday demanded an apology from Assam Rifles over the alleged defiance to “safety protocol” set up by Mizoram government and molestation of two women at a border village in Champhai district allegedly by personnel of the oldest paramilitary force.
Assam Rifles denied both the allegations.
YMA is the largest civil body in Mizoram having more than 4.5 lakh members across the state and outside the state.
A press statement issued by the organisation said that the meeting of executive committee of the organisation held on Sunday vehemently blamed Assam Rifles for allegedly refusing to undergo medical screening in a bid of defiance to safety protocol set up by the state government to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The meeting also blamed the Assam Rifles personnel for allegedly molesting two women at Sesih village in Champhai district on the Mizoram-Myanmar border on August 15.
A YMA leader said the two women were returning from jhum land when they were allegedly molested by Assam Rifles jawans, who were guarding the border
Taking serious note of both the incidents, the Central YMA asked the Assam Rifles to express apology to the people of Mizoram before August is over, failing which it warned to take stringent efforts against the paramilitary force, the statement added.
On Saturday, chief minister Zoramthanga convened a meeting with leaders of Central YMA over the recent alleged misbehaviour shown by Assam Rifles, an official said.
The meeting agreed that separate letters from both the state government and CYMA will be written to Union Ministry of Home Affairs informing the ministry about the unbecoming nature of Assam Rifles in disrespecting safety protocol and skipping Independence Day celebration.
Earlier on August 19, Mizoram home department had written to the DIG of 23 sector Assam Rifles complaining that 15 personnel belonging to 46 battalion of Assam Rifles forced their entry into the state on August 18 without complying with the entry and screening protocol set up by the state government to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The letter also alleged that 25 personnel were sent from Aizawl to Vairengte check gate in an apparently planned move to intimidate the civil administration and assist the 15 personnel in the forced entry.
A home department official also said that the Assam Rifles personnel breached “The Mizoram “Containment and Prevention of Covid-19) Ordinance, 2020” as per which every citizen, including security personnel, were prohibited to enter the state without prior permission to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Assam Rifles denied the allegation and said that the state government violated MHA directions by restricting inter-state movement of security forces.
Speaking to EastMojo, 46 Assam Rifles commandant, Colonel Viplav Tripathi said that the 15 personnel, who came from Silchar, insisted the officials to take Rapid Antigen Test from them.
“Initially, the official agreed to do medical screening on the personnel. But later, they refused to take Rapid Antigen Test from them stating that they have no movement permit,” he said, adding that the AR personnel told the officials that they did not require separate movement permit as security personnel are exempted by the Centre.
Tripathi also said that 25 personnel, including a doctor, were sent to Vairengte on that day to receive their fellow personnel to avoid any medical emergencies and technical failure on the way.
In a reply to state home department on August 20, Assam Rifles said the state government order contradicted the MHA guidelines.
Stating that the allegation of Assam rifles being second highest spreader in the state “baseless,” the letter also blamed the state government for allegedly tarnishing the image of the force.
Meanwhile, an Assam Rifle officer denied that Assam Rifles bunk Independence Day celebration in Mizoram.
He said that Assam Rifles personnel were present at the I-Day celebration and with other contingents they gave the Rashtriya salute to the tricolour when chief minister Zoramthanga unfurled it.
“The issue was attendance by DIG, whose rank was relegated in the order of precedence issued by the state government recently, which is not aligned with the national warrant of precedence,” he said.
The officer also said there was no such incident as Assam Rifles personnel molesting women in Sesih village.
“If there is any report, we would like to know the name of that Jawan(s) so that at least those girls can identify them or we can give the media a brief of what exactly happened,” he said.
Assam Rifles also received a barrage of criticism from various organisations, including state’s apex student body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), which alleged that the Assam Rifles troopers insulted the people of Mizoram by showing defiance to safety protocols amid the surge in Covid-19 cases in the state.