Aizawl: In a pointed statement during the 12th session of the 8th Mizoram Legislative Assembly, Home Minister Lalchamliana accused the Assam Rifles of attempting to maintain their headquarters in the heart of Aizawl. He also revealed ongoing challenges in finalising the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for relocating the Assam Rifles headquarters to Zokhawsang.
The controversy revolves around a draft MoU jointly prepared by the Assam Rifles and the state government for relocating the headquarters from Aizawl to Zokhawsang, aimed at decongesting the city centre.
According to reports from the local vernacular Vanglaini, despite forwarding the draft MoU to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Assam Rifles have yet to receive a response.
Once the MHA approves the draft MoU, the Ministry and the Mizoram government are expected to formally sign it. However, the Assam Rifles seem unprepared to relocate until certain conditions outlined in the MoU are met, including the establishment of a school in Zokhawsang, a requirement they insist must be fulfilled by the Mizoram government.
In addition to the school, the Assam Rifles have expressed concerns about the availability of basic infrastructure in the proposed relocation area, arguing that access to good roads, consistent power, and water supply is essential for their operations and the well-being of their personnel.
In April, the Union Home Minister virtually inaugurated five infrastructure projects, including the Assam Rifles battalion headquarters. Shah announced that the Assam Rifle base would shift from the heart of Aizawl to Zokhawsang, approximately 15 kilometres east of Aizawl.
In 2022, Chief Minister Zoramthanga held a meeting with Assam Rifles officials to discuss the headquarters’ relocation. Deputy Chief Minister Tawnluia, Home Minister Lalchamliana, and Land & Revenue Settlement Minister Lalruatkima were present at the meeting. They discussed the delayed relocation, with Mizoram having completed its requirements, and assured that any additional construction requests would be promptly addressed. Assam Rifles officials were asked to state the reason for their delay after consulting with their fellow officials.
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The relocation of the Assam Rifles headquarters has garnered significant attention as elections approach, primarily because it was a pre-election commitment made by the MNF party in the 2018 polls. This issue has historical roots dating back to 1987 when the MNF formed its inaugural government upon emerging from the underground. At that time, former Chief Minister Laldenga emphasised the paramount importance of moving the Assam Rifles bases from the center of Aizawl to Zokhawsang, situated approximately 15 kilometers from the city. The certificate to transfer the Zokhawsang area to Assam Rifles was signed in 1988.
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