Border row resurfaces, Assam agitators block highway to Mizoram
Silchar (Assam)/Aizawl: A week after the fortnight-long Assam-Mizoram border dispute was purportedly resolved, the issue resurfaced on Wednesday as agitators in Assam blocked National Highway 306, the life-line of Mizoram, demanding the state withdraw its security personnel from Assam’s territory.
Police officials in Assam’s Silchar said that over 100 people blockaded the highway at Lailapur, leaving more than 100 goods-laden vehicles stranded on the either side of the border.
“The agitators were demanding withdrawal of Mizoram’s forces from Assam’s territory in Cachar and Karimganj districts. In the series of high-level meetings last week, the Mizoram officials had agreed to gradually withdraw their forces from the areas inside Assam territory. But, they are yet to withdraw,” a senior Cachar district police official said.
Mizoram ferries all its essentials, food grains, transport fuel and various other goods and machines through NH 306 which connects Vairengte in its Kolasib district to southern Assam.
Assam’s Additional Director General of Police, Law and Order, Gyanendra Pratap Singh rushed to southern Assam and held a series of meetings with the officials to normalise the situation.
Festering since earlier this month, the situation along the 164.6-km Assam-Mizoram border took an ugly turn with around 20 shops and houses being burnt and over 50 people injured in the attacks and counter-attacks by people on either side on October 17.
An Assam Police official said that in another incident, Mizoram security personnel had on Tuesday prevented the Assam Forest Department officials, led by Divisional Forest Officer, Cachar, Sunnydeo Choudhary from visiting some forest areas at Haowaifung along the border, saying it falls in their territory.
Assam’s Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya said that he communicated the latest development to the Central government and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was “worried” over the prevailing situation.
Union Home Ministry’s Joint Secretary (North East), Satyendra Kumar Garg had held a meeting with the Home Secretaries of Assam and Mizoram last week where it was agreed that both sides will maintain the status quo and hold regular talks to prevent any untoward incident. After these meetings, over 300 stranded Mizoram-bound essential goods laden vehicles went to the neighbouring state.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Mizoram CM Zoramthanga several times last week to defuse the crisis.
Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla held a meeting, through video conference, with the Chief Secretaries of Assam and Mizoram.