Tension at Assam-Mizoram border as several injured in violent clash

Aizawl/ Silchar, Oct 18 (PTI) Simmering tension prevailed on the Assam-Mizoram border after a violent clash took place between the people of the two states, injuring several, a police officer in Aizawl said.

The situation is now under control in the area, which is in Kolasib district of Mizoram and Cachar district of Assam, he said.

The Mizoram government has deployed personnel of the Indian Reserve Battalion in the violence-hit areas near the Vairengte village in Mizoram and Assam’s Lailapur, he said.

Vairengte in Mizorams Kolasib district is the northern fringe of the state through which the National Highway 306 (formerly 54) passes, linking the state to Assam.

The nearest village in Assam is Lailapur, which is in the Cachar district.

Kolasib district deputy commissioner H Lalthlangliana told PTI that a large number of Vairengte residents assembled when some people from Assam, armed with sticks and dao, pelted stones at a group near the auto-rickshaw stand on the outskirts of the border village on Saturday evening.

The irate mob from Vairengte retaliated and set on fire about 20 temporary bamboo huts and stalls built along the national highway by residents of Lailapur despite a prohibitory order being in place, he said.

In the violent clash that lasted for several hours, many people including four from Mizoram, were injured, Lalthlangliana said.

One of the injured persons, who suffered a cut in his neck, was admitted to the Kolasib district hospital and the condition was critical. Three people were being treated at a Public Health Centre (PHC) in Vairengte, he said.

“Despite the prohibitory order under Section 144 of the CrPC and policemen trying their best, the situation turned violent and became out of control as people gathered in large numbers,” he said.

The incident could be the fallout of the demolition on Saturday afternoon of a makeshift hut used by local volunteers who guard the inter-state border near the Saihaipui ‘V’ village, about 3 km from Vairengte, he said.

The volunteers are guarding the border to check movement in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lalthlangliana said no one died in the clash and one person from Assam was admitted at Silchar Medical College and Hospital.

He said that he has spoken to Cachar deputy commissioner Keerthi Jalli over the violence and asked him to take measures to ensure that the national highway, which has been blocked by the local people, is cleared at the earliest.

Jaleel could not be reached for comments on the incident.

Assam Forest Minister Parimal Shukla Baidya, who is also the local MLA, said such incidents happen in the area every year as people from both the sides illegally cut trees.

“I will look into the matter,” he told PTI.

Former Silchar MP Sushmita Dev of the Congress told PTI that she has visited the troubled area but found no administration officials.

Lalthangliana said that the Kolasib district administration is giving shelter to truck drivers, mostly from Assam, at Kolasib town and Kawnpui village and volunteers of the Young Mizo Association (YMA) provided them food.

Mizoram’s MNF MLA Lalrintluanga Sailo, who is camping at Vairengte, said that his state is not hostile to Assam or its people but is protecting its territory from infiltration by illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, who are living in the border areas.

He claimed that more than 80 per cent of people living along the Assam-Mizoram border are illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

Sailo alleged that the border dispute is a ploy by some politicians with vested interest living in the border areas to take advantage in view of the Assam election, likely to be held early next year.

At least 11 MLAs of Mizoram’s ruling party MNF, including deputy speaker Lalrinawma, are at present camping in Vairengte.

Chief Minister Zoramthanga also held a cabinet meeting over the border dispute during the day.

“I sincerely request everyone to maintain peace and to kindly not bypass any administrative proceedings,” he tweeted.

The two states are often at loggerheads over the boundary, which they dispute.

Recently, a standoff took place near Thinghlun village in Mizoram’s Mamit district on the border with Assam’s Karimganj when Assam officials allegedly demolished a farm hut erected on the disputed land.

Mizoram shares a 164.6 km inter-state border with Assam.

Several dialogues held since 1995 to resolve the border dispute have yielded little results.