Assam, Mizoram CMs agree to form regional panel to resolve boundary dispute

Published on Sep 21, 2022 07:35 PM IST

The meeting of Assam’s chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga was held in New Delhi’s Assam House.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (right) and Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga after a meeting on Assam-Mizoram border issue in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)
Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma (right) and Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga after a meeting on Assam-Mizoram border issue in New Delhi on Wednesday. (PTI)
ByUtpal Parashar & H Lalhlimum

GUWAHATI/AIZAWL: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his Mizoram counterpart Zoramthanga met in New Delhi to discuss border issues between both states and agreed to form a regional committee to resolve the long pending boundary dispute.

The meeting, held at Assam House in Delhi, reviewed the ongoing ministerial-level talks between the two states. Last month, an Assam government delegation led by border affairs minister Atul Bora held talks with Mizoram home minister Lalchamliana in Aizawl.

“We took stock of the ministerial level talks between our states and expressed satisfaction at their progress. We are in the process of forming a regional committee to resolve border issues between the two states,” Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters after the meeting.

Zoramthanga and Sarma also agreed that both the states scale up their efforts to curb the smuggling of dried areca nuts from Myanmar.

They also agreed to take measures to ensure that Mizoram-grown fresh (green) area nuts are not seized in Assam and that they reach their final destination.

“I have a meeting with the Assam chief minister. We have discussed the border dispute. We are happy for the progress we have seen in the border talks between the two states,” Zoramthanga said in a voice message on his official Instagram handle.

This is the second meeting between the two chief ministers on the border issue. In November last year, the two leaders met in New Delhi in the presence of Union home minister Amit Shah and agreed to form committees involving all stakeholders to resolve the lingering border dispute through dialogue. They had also agreed to have chief minister-level talks from time to time.

At the ministerial level meetings, both states have agreed to maintain peace and harmony along their boundaries and solve the issue through dialogue. The next such meeting is to be held at Guwahati in October. The two sides have had three virtual meetings so far.

Mizoram shares a 164.6 km long inter-state border with Assam. The border dispute between the two states is a long-standing issue, which has remained unresolved till now.

Mizoram was part of Assam until 1972 when it was carved out as a union territory. The border dispute mainly came out of two colonial notifications- the inner line reserve forest notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) in 1875 and the boundary indicated in Survey of India’s map in 1933.

While Mizoram claimed the 509 square miles stretch of the inner line reserve forest as its actual boundary, Assam said the 1933 boundary was its constitutional boundary.

The border has witnessed skirmishes, especially after 1994, and it has become frequent since 2018.

More than 60 people were injured when functionaries of Mizoram’s apex student body- Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) clashed with Assam police at Zophai in the disputed area near Bairabi town in Kolasib district in March 2018.

The border dispute between the two neighbouring states turned ugly in July last year when police forces of the two states exchanged fire on the disputed area near Vairengte village on the National Highway-306 leading to the death of six policemen and a civilian from Assam.

Around 60 people were also injured in the violent clash, which was followed by a blockade organised by residents of Assam’s Laipur village on NH-306, the lifeline of Mizoram for nearly a month. Tension was defused later with the intervention of the Centre and when both states agreed to hold talks.

Besides Mizoram, Assam has border disputes with Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland that were carved out of it.

Earlier this year, Meghalaya and Assam signed a deal to end border disputes in 6 of the 12 areas of contention between them. Both states have agreed to form regional committees to look into the remaining 6 areas of dispute.

Assam and Arunachal Pradesh also signed a declaration this year to resolve their disputes by forming regional committees comprising senior ministers from both sides to visit the disputed areas.

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