CMs of Assam, Mizoram tone down rhetoric after Shah’s intervention

The development came after Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Mizoram counterpart held a telephonic conversation with Shah.
Union home minister Amit Shah. (File photo)
Union home minister Amit Shah. (File photo)
Published on Aug 01, 2021 10:35 PM IST
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By Utpal Parashar/Biswa Kalyan Purkayastha

After days of tension between both states following Monday’s clash along their borders that claimed the lives of 6 Assam policemen, the chief ministers of Assam and Mizoram agreed on Sunday that the existing border dispute between them should be resolved through talks, HT has learnt.

The development came after Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga held a telephonic conversation with Union home minister Amit Shah. The CMs, who traded charges on social media following the clash, are likely to meet soon.

“As per telephonic discussion with Union home minister and Assam chief minister, we agreed to resolve the Mizoram-Assam border issue amicably through meaningful dialogue,” Zoramthanga tweeted on Sunday morning.

“In the meantime, in order to prevent any possible escalation of the situation, I request the people of Mizoram to avoid posting sensitive messages and make judicious use of their social media platform,” he added.

Sarma reciprocated by stating that both CMs would talk again soon. Zoramthanga is at present under quarantine after he came in contact with a Covid-19 positive patient recently. A date for talks between him and Sarma is expected to be fixed once the quarantine period is over.

“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 Zoramthanga has promised to call me post his quarantine. Border disputes can only be resolved through discussion,” he tweeted.

Following Monday’s incident, police on both sides have lodged cases against each other. Assam lodged a case of murder and trespass against Mizoram officials and is also probing a Mizoram MP who said “all Assam police personnel will be killed” if they enter the state again.

The Mizoram police also lodged an FIR against Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and six senior officials of the state in Kolasib district, accusing them of an attempt to murder and assault.

On Sunday, Mizoram indicated that Sarma’s name could be removed from the FIR. “I will discuss with the concerned police officer who filed the FIR and if there’s no legal fit in that, we would like to remove the name of Assam chief minister from the FIR,” Mizoram chief secretary Lalnunmawia Chuango told reporters in Aizwal on Sunday.

Speaking to HT, superintendent of police of Kolasib district in Mizoram, Vanlalfaka Ralte, mentioned that they won’t proceed with the case against Sarma, but the investigation against the Assam officials could continue.

“The case is not withdrawn, but we are not going to investigate the matter against Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma in order to have a peaceful atmosphere,” Ralte said.

The newly appointed superintendent of police of Cachar district in Assam, Ramandeep Kaur, mentioned that none of the officials of Mizoram Police who were named in the FIR filed by Assam reached the Dholai police station on Sunday to record their statements.

“None of them have come today. We will send notices to them again and if they fail to appear we will send summons through court. The situation on the ground is normal, but while our security personnel have withdrawn from the border areas and it is being manned by CRPF personnel, Mizoram is yet to call back their forces,” she said.

Following the clash on Monday, some Assam residents blocked sections of National Highway 306 and uprooted a stretch of the lone railway track connecting Mizoram to the rest of the country, resulting in disruption of transportation of people and goods to and from Mizoram, which further escalated tensions.

There were also accusations that Mizoram was not honouring the agreement to withdraw its police force from the four-km disputed stretch between Vairengte in Mizoram and Lailapur in Assam along NH-306. The tensions continued to simmer with Assam issuing an advisory to residents against travelling to Mizoram and both sides issuing provocative statements.

The two states share a 165-km-long border and a decades’ old dispute over stretches of the boundary that has seen each accuse the other of encroachment. Since October last year, there have been skirmishes along the border resulting in the torching of huts, damaging crops, and injuries to people.

Mizoram claims action by its police on Monday was in retaliation to Assam police personnel entering their territory forcibly and targeting police personnel and residents. Assam maintains that the team had gone to discuss the border issue when they were attacked without provocation.

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Saturday, October 23, 2021