Six jawans of the Assam Police were killed at the Assam-Mizoram border "defending constitutional boundary of our state", Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday evening.
"I am deeply pained to inform that six brave jawans of @assampolice have sacrificed their lives while defending constitutional boundary of our state at the Assam-Mizoram border. My heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families," tweeted Sarma.
This happened hours after Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga and his Assam counterpart Himanta Biswa Sarma clashed on Twitter and sought Union Home Minister Amit Shah's intervention over the worsening border tension between the two states.
Zoramthanga first accused the Assam Police of resorting to lathi-charge and lobbing tear gas shells while Assam Police claimed that a large number of "miscreants" from Mizoram were indulging in stone pelting and had attacked the Assam government officials.
Mizoram Deputy Inspector-General of Police (Northern Range), Lalbiakthanga Khiangte, told news agency PTI that at least eight unoccupied farm huts near Aitlang stream in the trouble-torn area were torched around 11.30 PM on Sunday.
He said these belonged to farmers from Vairengte, the nearest border village from Assam.
Locals on the Assam side alleged that miscreants armed with sticks, rods and even rifles, attacked personnel of the Assam Police at Lailapur and damaged several vehicles, including those belonging to the office of the Deputy Commissioner.
Zoramthanga posted a video in his Twitter handle of a stand-off between Assam police personnel and a group of stick-wielding youths.
"Shri @AmitShah ji..kindly look into the matter. This needs to be stopped right now. #MizoramAssamBorderTension," he said, tagging the Prime Minister's office and Union Home Minister's office, Sarma and officials of Assam's Cachar district.
Zoramthanga also alleged in another tweet that "an innocent couple" on their way back to Mizoram via Cachar was "manhandled" by "thugs and goons". "How are you going to justify these violent acts?" he asked.
The Assam Police countered the Mizoram chief minister's allegations by saying that people from Mizoram attacked its personnel and indulged in stone-pelting on them.
"It's unfortunate that a large number of miscreants from Mizoram are indulging in stone pelting and such forms of attack at Assam Government Officials, stationed at Lailapur to protect Assam's land from encroachment," it tweeted.
The Assam Police also said, "We strongly condemn these acts of vandalism and reiterate our resolve to protect Assam's boundary."
Himanta Biswa Sarma shared a video and said a superintendent of police from Mizoram's Kolasib was asking Assam’s officials to withdraw from their post, failing which civilians from the neighbouring state would not stop the violence. The Assam CM also sought immediate intervention of Amit Shah and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
"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," Sarma tweeted.
Soon after, Zoramthanga wrote to Sarma, "After a cordial meeting of CMs (chaired) by Shah, two companies of Assam Police with civilians lathicharged and tear gassed civilians at Vairengte Auto Rickshaw stand inside Mizoram today. They even overrun CRPF personnel/Mizoram Police."
Later, Sarma said he has spoken to his Mizoram counterpart and reiterated that Assam Police will maintain the status quo and peace along the border.
"I have just spoken to Hon'ble Chief Minister @ZoramthangaCM ji. I have reiterated that Assam will maintain status quo and peace between the borders of our state. I have expressed my willingness to visit Aizawl and discuss these issues if need be @AmitShah @PMOIndia," he said.
"As discussed, I kindly urge that Assam Police be instructed to withdraw from Vairengte for the safety of civilians," Zoramthanga replied.
For the uninitiated, three Mizoram districts - Aizawl, Kolasib and Mamit - share a 164.6 km long inter-state border with Assam's Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts. Reportedly, there have been clashes at the "disputed" areas of the border for years, with the residents on both sides accusing each other of encroaching on their lands. The last incident was reported in June, when security forces of both states exchanged allegations of "intrusion". Later on July 9, a chief secretary-level meeting was held in New Delhi to end the border imbroglio. However, there was no major breakthrough.
The BJP is currently in power in Assam, while the Mizo National Front (MNF), a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), is ruling in Mizoram.
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