In a fresh set of violence that broke out in the disputed Assam-Mizoram border, at least five police officers from Assam were killed and over 60 injured in violent clashes on Monday, July 26.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted that there were reports of firing from the border area lying over Assam's Cachar district and Mizoram's Kolasib district and attacks on government vehicles. Sarma visited Silchar to meet the injured police personnel and also paid homage to the slain cops who lost their lives during the clash.
As per media reports, the dispute between the two states was over encroachment of territory by both sides during the past few weeks.
July 26, 2021— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) July 26, 2021
Government of Assam's Press Statement on Mizoram Issue. pic.twitter.com/DW04yLHjF1
Meanwhile, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga alleged that "Assam Police also damaged several vehicles that were travelling along the National Highway between Vairengte and Lailapur."
This renewed violence between the two states took place after Union Home Minister Amit Shah returned from Meghalaya completing his two-day visit to the region and a closed-door meeting with Chief Ministers of the northeast states.
In the meeting, reports Mint, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga had mentioned that the border disputes in the northeast were a legacy of the colonial era and lasting peace between states is important for further development of the region.
The Chief Ministers of both the northeastern states engaged in a war of words on social media after the incident.
Innoncent couple on their way back to Mizoram via Cachar manhandled and ransacked by thugs and goons.— Zoramthanga (@ZoramthangaCM) July 26, 2021
How are you going to justify these violent acts?@dccachar @cacharpolice @DGPAssamPolice pic.twitter.com/J9c20gzMZQ
Honble @ZoramthangaCM ji , Kolasib ( Mizoram) SP is asking us to withdraw from our post until then their civilians won't listen nor stop violence. How can we run government in such circumstances? Hope you will intervene at earliest @AmitShah @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/72CWWiJGf3— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) July 26, 2021
What Triggered Violence On July 26?
Tensions escalated after violence erupted between police on both sides of a contentious border point, Lailapur, as per media reports.
While no casualties were suffered by Mizoram, the state government, in a statement, claimed that around 200 Assam Police personnel crossed a duty post manned by the Central Reserve Police Force and state police in Assam's Cachar district.
However, authorities in Assam have stated that a team of senior police and forest officials set out to remove a Mizoram police post that was situated in the state's Cachar district.
"They had made encroachments in our land and forests in 2020," Mukherjee said. "They had started cutting trees in the forest to make roads and build camps," Deputy Inspector of Police in Assam's Silchar, Devojyoti Mukherjee, told Scroll.
Assam Govt Announces Ex-Gratia For Victims' Families
As per recent developments, the Assam Chief Minister has announced an ex-gratia of ₹50 lakh to the families of those who lost their lives to the border conflict with Mizoram. The government has also declared a three-day state mourning to condole the death of the policemen and the civilian, reported News18.
What Is The Border Dispute?
It is important to understand that three of Mizoram districts i.e. Aizawl, Kolasib, and Mamit share a 164.6 km long inter-state border with Assam's Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts. Over the years the two sides have been engaged in border skirmishes and the residents on either side accusing each other of intrusion.
However, the border dispute dates back to the British colonial era. The dispute between the two states started from a notification in 1875 that differentiated the Lushai Hills (now Mizoram) from the plains of Cachar, and the second in 1933, that demarcated a boundary between the Lushai Hills and Manipur.
The Indian Express reported that a Mizoram Minister had said, last year, that Mizoram believed the boundary should be demarcated based on the 1875 notification, which is derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873. Mizoram leaders think that the Mizo community was not consulted during the 1933 demarcation and since the Assam government follows the 1933 demarcation, the two states have conflicted for years.