Violence broke out in the north eastern states of Assam and Mizoram on Saturday, with several people injured and shops and houses being burnt. The situation at the Assam-Mizoram border has now been brought under control and officials are looking to address and settle the dispute amicably.
Security was also beefed up along Tripura-Mizoram border and prohibitory orders promulgated, even as the Tripura authorities stopped reconstruction of a temple at the disputed Phuldungsei village on the inter-state border.
Which is the affected area?
Vairengte in Kolasib district is on the northern fringe of Mizoram 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. The conflict had broken out that the Vairengte and Lailapur border.
What is the issue?
While there seem to some conflicting accounts as to who exactly was responsible for the current state of affairs, there are several factors that must be noted.
As per an IANS report, the clashes began on Saturday afternoon at Vairengte and Lailapur border after attacks on Mizoram security personnel by the villagers of Assam's Lailapur. The report quoted Kolasib Deputy Commissioner H. Lalthlangliana to say that seven Mizo civilians had been injured at the time. He had also alleged that several "misleading messages" were being circulated regarding the incident.
At the same time, Dilip Kumar Dey, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Southern Assam, had noted the presence of a COVID-19 testing centre that had been set up recently by Mizoram government at Lailapur, 1.5 km inside the Assamese territory. Cachar Superintendent of Police Bhanwar Lal Meena had noted that the "testing centre was set up unilaterally and under the pressure of Mizoram's NGOs". According to the DIG, the Cachar police had strongly objected to setting-up of the centre without permission from the Assam government, following which youths from Mizoram had come to Lailapur on Saturday and attacked the truck drivers, villagers and burnt more than 15 small shops-cum-houses.
Villagers in Mizoram's adjacent Mamit district however have told the media that miscreants from Cachar came to their villages and attacked shops and houses, causing huge damage. A police official in Cachar also said that more than 50 people, mostly truck drivers, were injured when assailants from Mizoram threw stones and bricks on them.
State forest Minister Parimal Shuklabaidya who visited the area however opined in conversation with PTI that such incidents happen in the area every year as people from both the sides illegally cut trees.
What has been the official response?
A meeting, chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, between the two state will be held on Monday to take stock of the situation, Mizoram Home Minister Lalchamliana said. The Chief Secretaries of the two states will be present in the meeting.
"Talked to Mizoram CM Shri @ZoramthangaCM over phone about the incident at Assam-Mizoram border. We agreed to maintain the law & order situation of the area so that peace returns immediately. We resolve to work together for maintaining brotherhood between both the states," Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal tweeted on Sunday night. He also said that he had apprised the Prime Minister's Office and Union Home Ministry about the situation.
Reacting to his comments, Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga lauded Sonowal. "Noble, much awaited approach from a great leader. May this kind intervention brought #peace to the region and strengthen our bonds. Thank you Shri @sarbanandsonwal ji," he tweeted in response.
The two states have deployed security personnel, including those of the Indian Reserve Battalion, in the violence-hit areas near the Vairengte village in Mizoram and Assam's Lailapur, officials said. Earlier, Shuklabaidya, who is the MLA of Dholai in Cachar had visited Lailapur and interacted with the people.
(With inputs from agencies)