Hailakandi: Section 144 was imposed along the Assam-Mizoram border in Hailakandi district of Assam on Wednesday after more than 20 houses were allegedly set ablaze by some miscreants on Tuesday night.
Three people were critically injured in the incident and have been taken to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital, officials said.
Locals claim that the miscreants included members of the student body, the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) and were aided by the armed police officials.
“The cadres of Mizo Zirlai Pawl approached a construction site in the locality and asked the contractor Hirok Paul to stop it immediately. I was present there, and we explained to them that it was a work under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and they should not obstruct in this manner. However, they did not listen,” Ikbal Bahar, a resident of Kachurtal area, told EastMojo.
MZP denied any role in the incident. “We don’t know who did it,” said an office bearer, adding that a Mizo official and a village council member were assaulted on Tuesday evening by locals from Assam.
Hailakandi deputy commissioner Megha Nidhi Dahal said they are still investigating the identity of the miscreants. He said the administration is unsure whether the attack was initiated from the Mizoram side.
“A few houses have indeed been burnt, but we don’t have the exact number yet. We don’t know who is behind this activity. What we have heard is that the miscreants ran towards Mizoram after burning the houses. The government has been briefed about the incident, and senior officers are expected to visit and inspect the situation on the ground,” Dahal told EastMojo.
Explaining the incident, Dahal said, “The administration got to know about some untoward incident in the Assam-Mizoram border. There is road construction going on in the area under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. As per local reports, a group of people from Mizoram came and asked the locals in Assam to stop the construction immediately. Later, there was a confrontation between the two parties at around 6 pm. After that, the condition deteriorated, and tensions escalated.”
Last year, similar attacks took place in Cachar district’s Lailapur which shares an inter-state border with Mizoram.
Following the confrontation on Tuesday evening, Dahal imposed Section 144 in border areas. The locals claimed that the Mizoram IR Battalion jawans were present with guns when the miscreants lit the fires. Hundreds of residents from the affected areas left their houses with goats and cattle in tow.
Dahal confirmed that people are seeking refuge in different places within Hailakandi. “Since late night, visuals of men and women leaving their houses in large numbers emerged. The ones who have lost their houses, also the ones who are scared, have left their houses is what we have heard. We are looking into the matter,” he added.
Hailakandi circle officer Soma Roy, and magistrate Tridip Roy, were stopped by Mizoram police officials while trying to visit the place where the incident took place. “We went to the place as per the direction of our deputy commissioner, but some official of Mizoram police stopped us saying that it is a disputed territory. They said peace will be hampered if we visit there. We tried to convince them but it didn’t work. We have reported this to the concerned authority,” Roy told EastMojo.
Protesting against the violence, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and some other NGOs blocked the National Highway at Gharmura Bazaar on Wednesday. “We are peace-loving people of Assam, but Mizo miscreants often try to enter our land and harras our people. Economic blockade is the only language they understand, hence we are doing it,” said Kabir Hossain, member of the organisation.
This isn’t the first time that miscreants have allegedly set ablaze dwellings and houses in Barak Valley. Last year, an Assam resident was found dead in Mizoram, which escalated tensions in Cachar. On February 3, miscreants bombed a primary school on the border.