Six days after a violent clash between the police forces of Assam and Mizoram claimed seven lives and injured over 50 people, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday said such incidents along the inter-state border are “unacceptable” to people of both the states and advocated a resolution through talks.
Assam Chief Minister Sarma, who has been charged with criminal conspiracy and attempt to murder in an FIR by Mizoram Police, also spoke of keeping alive the spirit of the North East in a twitter post.
The tweet comes after Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to both Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Mizoram CM Zoramthanga telephonically earlier in the day to defuse the border tension between the two Northeastern neighbours.
“Our main focus is on keeping the spirit of North-East alive. What happened along the Assam-Mizoram border is unacceptable to the people of both states.
“Honble CM @ZoramthangaCM had promised to call me post his quarantine. Border disputes can only be resolved through discussion,” Sarma said in his tweet.
Despite an attempt by Shah to resolve the long-standing border disputes between Assam and its neighbours earlier this month through a meeting he chaired, at least six Assam Police personnel and one civilian were killed while defending a disputed boundary with Mizoram and more than 50 people injured, including the police chief of the district of Cachar.
The Mizoram police had lodged an FIR against Sarma and six Assam officials under various charges, including charges of attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy, at Vairengte police station.
The Assam Police has also issued summons to six officials of Mizoram government, including the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of Kolasib district, and ordered them to appear at Dholai police station on Monday.
However, on Sunday, the Chief Secretary of Mizoram has said the state’s chief minister had frowned on charges levelled against his Assam counterpart and indicated these are likely to be withdrawn.
Despite an agreement hammered out on Wednesday night, by the Union home ministry to maintain calm on the border and to allow a neutral central police force to act as peace-keepers, the two states have continued to trade charges of reinforcing police pickets and of not refusing to honour the agreement which calls for pulling back forces from the border.
Assamese local organisations which had soon after the clash announced an economic blockade of Mizoram have since lifted their `blokade’, but truckers afraid of possible violence have opted to either park their vehicles near the border in Cachar district’s Dholai or to circumvent the troubled boundary by taking a longer route through Tripura.
Assam government on Thursday had also issued an unprecedented travel advisory asking people not to travel to Mizoram and advised people from the state working or staying there to “exercise utmost caution.”
Tension along the border with Mizoram in Cachar and Hailakandi districts of Assam have been escalating since October 2020 with frequent incidents of burning of houses and encroachment of land.
The two states share a 164.6-km border between Assam’s Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts, and Mizoram’s Kolasib, Mamit and Aizawl districts.
Both states have differing interpretations of their territorial border. While Mizoram believes that its border lies along an ‘inner line’ drawn up in 1875 to protect tribals from outside influence, Assam goes by a district demarcation done in the 1930s.