A well-known drug peddler from Lailapur was caught by volunteers of Young Mizo Association (YMA) Credit: Representational Image

Aizawl: Tension along the Assam-Mizoram border show no signs of dissipating. On Monday night, a 48-year-old Assam resident died in a hospital at Vairengte in Kolasib district after he was allegedly arrested with 420 mg of heroin packed in 14 small plastic containers, a senior police officer said.

The deceased was identified as Intyaz Ali alias Intazul Laskar, a resident of Lailapur in Assam’s Cachar district.

Mizoram Inspector General of Police (Headquarters) John Neihlaia said Ali, a well-known drug peddler from Lailapur, was caught by volunteers of Young Mizo Association (YMA) when he was trying to hand over the drug consignment to two locals in the Mautui Zau forest area in Vairengte on Sunday afternoon.

He sustained injuries on both his ankles after he tried to escape from the volunteers. The YMA volunteers handed Ali over to personnel of Excise and Narcotics department, who booked him under section 21 (a) of Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 after the arrest, said Neihlaia.

He was brought to a Community Health Centre (CHC) in Vairengte, where he was medically examined and subsequently admitted after he appeared to be physically unwell, Neihlaia said. Ali died around 10:30 am on Monday, he added.

Vairengte police registered a case for unnatural death on Monday in connection with the death.

According to Neihlaia, the inquest and postmortem examination have been recorded on video as per the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) guidelines. A magisterial enquiry is also being launched.

Assam Police will hand over the dead body to the relatives of the deceased or the Assam police on Tuesday, he added.

Denouncing reports in a section of media, Kolasib district Superintendent of Police (SP) Vanlalfaka Ralte claimed that no person laid hands upon him at the time of his arrest and the incident was not connected to the present border standoff.

Meanwhile, Cachar district SP Bhanwar Lal Meena has written to his Kolasib counterpart asking him to investigate the case and follow all the National Human Rights Commission protocols applicable in the case of custodial death.

The deceased relatives also alleged that Ali had gone missing from a forest area where he went to collect wood and a case had been registered at the Dholai police station.

Silchar Mizoram House Liaison Officer (LO) Saizikpuii said she has appealed to the Mizos living in the town to take shelter in the house as a precautionary measure.

She said that 11 oil tankers and 6 LPG trucks stranded in Silchar are also currently taking shelter in the house.

According to LO, the Cachar district administration provided them with three personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and six policemen apart from the existing four CRPF jawans.

The situation in Silchar was calm till late Monday night, she said.

However, a few Mizoram residents have fled to Jiribam in neighbouring Manipur for fear of communal clash, she added..

Mizoram home secretary Lalbiaksangi has written to her Assam counterpart asking the official to ensure the safety and security of the Mizo communities living in Assam especially the Mizoram House in Silchar and stranded Mizo drivers in the wake of tension triggered by the demise of Ali.

In a letter, Lalbiaksangi urged Assam home commissioner and secretary to prevent any possible retaliatory actions by vested interests in Assam especially along the inter-state border.

Current Situation

In October, when Assam government carried out an “eviction drive” along a contested part of the border, a farm house and crops were reportedly burned down.

The Mizoram government responded by deploying forces in parts which it claims as its territory. Meanwhile, Mizos insist that they were only defending their land.

Just as things seemed to be simmering down, violent clashes erupted in another disputed area on October 17, at the Cachar-Kolasib section of the border.

And, the death of Ali, an Assam resident in Mizoram, added fuel to the fire of the reignited border dispute.

There has been constant friction along the Assam-Mizoram border area ever since Mizoram was carved out of Assam in 1972.

Assam’s three southern districts – Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi shares 164.6 km border with Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl district. But without a proper state demarcation along the border, there has been constant scuffle. Also, despite several rounds of dialogue, the border areas have witnessed sporadic violence.

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